Soraya Fallah is 2012 Recipient of the United Nation Association of USA’s Global Citizen Award
Report by: Cklara Moradian
On Thursday, September 27th 2012, the United Nation Association of USA (UNAUSA) gathered for the 5th West Coast Global Forum at an official luncheon held at the California Endowment Center in Los Angeles, CA.
The purpose of this gathering was to begin a dialogue about the challenges facing our global world, including the increasing population on our planet. The forum’s theme was “7 Billion and Counting: Creating a World that Works.”
This forum was also a celebration of individuals and organizations that are contributing to the creation of a world that works. Three distinguished individuals were awarded the “Global Citizen Award” as a way to honor their tireless efforts towards improving the health, human rights, and quality of life of people in the local and global community.
The UNAUSA, Southern California Division in Partnership with the Southern CA Regional Council of Organizations, and the Los Angeles Mayor’s office presented the awardees with certificate of recognition and a platform to speak about their work and their current projects.
Soraya Fallah was awarded for her courage and unwavering commitment to human rights. Her efforts to secure the rights of women, disadvantaged communities, prisoners of conscious, and minority groups in the Middle East have established her as an International Human Rights Activist and a Global Citizen.
Dr. Gudata S. Hinika, Founder of Ethiopia HealthAid, was recognized for establishing a sustainable healthcare and education systems in rural Ethiopia.
Calvert Investments was awarded for their commitment to a sustainable and responsible investment program since 1982.
The certificate of recognition, which were signed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa and Erik Garcetti, council member of the 13 district of Los Angeles, were presented to the awardees by the Executive Director of UNAUSA Mr. Patrick Madden, the Vice President and Resource Development of UNAUSA Mr. Barry Simon, and President of UNA-USA Southern California Division Mel Boynton.
As a way to introduce Soraya Fallah, a short but moving documentary, titled “For Kurdistan,” was shown to the audience. This documentary is part of a project by the campaign Education under Fire. Soraya gave a short speech thanking the attendees, which included members of her UNAUSA-SFV chapter, members of the Kurdish-American Committee for Human Rights and Democracy in Iran, Green Kurdistan, members of the Iranian community, Dr. Foud Darwish and his activist wife Suzanne Darwish, members of the Kurdish Community Of Southern California, members of KNCNA, her artist friends, as well as her children and her husband.
In her speech, Soraya Fallah pointed out, “My journey here has not been an easy one but I know that upholding the vision of this award will be even harder. More than ever, I am compelled to work for the safety of the vulnerable and the rights of the disenfranchised.”
The Forum committee called up Soraya Fallah’s family to the stage to greet them and introduce them to the audience.
During Q&A Soraya had a chance to speak shortly about the violation of Human Rights in Iran, especially against Kurd, and urge the audience to support petitions and movements in Iran, and become a voice for voiceless people.
Full text of Soraya Fallah Remark
Remark by : Soraya Fallah
It is a pleasure to be with you.
Thank you for taking time out of your day to attend this event. Everyone in attendance here is a distinguished global citizen so it is an honor to speak in front of you.
Before I share a few of my thoughts with you, I have to thank UN Association of the USA, Southern California Division for putting this event together and recognizing my work.
Thanks to the event committee, especially Mr. Barry Simone who has been working tirelessly to make this event a success.
I want to thank and welcome UNAUSA San Fernando Valley chapter members with whom I have had the pleasure of serving for the past 6 years.
I am flattered that so many of my friends have taken time from work and school to attend this event. I welcome all my friends, individual and organizations Kurdish /American committee for HR and D in Iran, Green Kurdistan, members of Iranian community, Kurdish Community Of Southern California , members of KNCNA ,my artist friends , Last but certainly not least, my beautiful children and my best friend and fellow activist, my husband.
It is always an honor to receive an award but it means so much more when my fellow recipients are so amazing. Congratulations to Dr. Gudata S. Hinika Founder of Ethiopia HealthAid, and to Calvert Investments.
This award is especially meaningful for me because it is being given by an organization that actually works to make its vision of a better world a reality. I have learned a great deal while serving UNAUSA. Members of this organization truly believe in a common humanity that ties us all together regardless of our backgrounds. Each time I have brought an issue to the attention of my fellow UNAUSA members they have listened attentively, showed care and concern, and have taken action within their capacity to help those who are suffering. This organization does not look at problems in other parts of the world as irrelevant or too distant to address. For example, when I brought up the persecution of human rights activists and the torture of political prisoners in Iran or my outrage regarding the intentional burning of forests in Kurdistan , neglecting Orumieh lake, and supporting prisoners in hunger strike, press releases were written, petitions were signed, meetings organized and educational events put together. UNAUSA is a model for how global citizens can work together to make life better for their brothers and sisters.
The theme of this year’s global forum is “7 Billion and Counting – Creating a World That Works.” If our goal is to reach a time where every human life is respected and each individual’s dignity is upheld, then we have to be worried about overpopulation. We have to be concerned about the state of our planet. We also all have to see ourselves as global citizens rather than simply an individual within a small geographic location.
This made me think of a National Geographic video called “Are you Typical?” The video gives an eye opening view of the stark differences between people born in various parts of the world. For example, it tells us that the average American uses 100 gallons of water at home per day while in parts of Africa only 2.5 gallons available for use. Some women spend 8hours a day collecting this meager amount. Can we work towards a world where our place of birth does not dictate whether our basic human rights are respected or violated? Can we work towards a global community where a woman in Iran, in Kurdistan and the Middle East or Africa can have the same life expectancy as a woman in Scandinavia? And children all over the world will have the opportunity to grow into healthy adults?
For this to happen, we need to educate ourselves and our communities about the need for responsible consumption and population control. We need to understand that human happiness is tied to a healthy environment. That the preservation of the earth’s rich cultural, ethnic, and ecological diversity can only be achieved through the promotion and adoption of environmentally wise and sustainable technologies.
We can make this happen!
This might sound idealistic but human beings are capable of remarkable things. We can achieve this by educating and inspiring one small community at a time, one household at a time, one woman, man and child at a time.
My journey here has not been an easy one but I know that upholding the vision of this award will be even harder. More than ever, I am compelled to work for the safety of the vulnerable and the rights of the disenfranchised. And all of you here today give me strength to continue my work. Thank you for your encouragement.
There are activists around the world whose safety and health are threatened for simply standing up for their rights and the rights of others, to human rights activists in Iran and Kurdistan. I dedicate this award to them for their tenacity and courage.
Thank you again and have a great rest of the day
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