Sullivan officials mark International Human Rights Day on a local and global level

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Rajsz, with Chicago newspaper headlining the Ukraine famine

MONTICELLO – The Sullivan County Human Rights Commission was created in 2005 to foster good relationships among communities and groups of people in the county.  The commission also has a global outlook and that was evident during a presentation on Monday, International Human Rights Day.
With the county’s significant Ukrainian population, what happened almost 90 years ago is a horror that will not be forgotten.  Over 7 million were intentionally starved to death in a campaign initiated by Josef Stalin to rapidly industrialize the Soviet Union which, at the time, included Ukraine.
County Legislature Vice Chairwoman Nadia Rajsz, of Ukrainian descent, said the forced famine and genocide, was largely unnoticed by the outside world at the time.
 “This was a horrific event.  It must never be forgotten.  It must be spoken about so that many people are aware that this happened.  We know that Russia is a huge aggressor now in today’s world in Ukraine. Just look at what’s happening on the eastern end.  They came into Crimea as if it was their own. So, and they turned around and said it was a civil war in Ukraine.”
Rajsz said it is a lesson that must be learned, especially in schools.
Human Rights Commission Executive Director Ari Mir-Pontier said Human Rights Day is also an opportunity to address smaller but still significant issues anyone may face closer to home:
“But what’s important is to remember that it’s up to us to be vigilant and to take this information and other information that we glean as we go through life and share it with our friends, our family and our networks so that we understand really what’s happening in the world and find a way to help.”
Mir-Pontier said that is the role of her commission at the county level, to assist anyone facing challenges relating to discrimination based on race, creed, color, religion, gender age, disability, perceived sexual orientation, and even, to the extent permitted under state law, past criminal offences.