Out of the Silence - Synopsis



Out of the Silence documents the growth of the international human rights movement, underscores the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and focuses on the work of individuals and nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) in protecting human rights. No matter what country you live in, what rights you advocate, or what level of human rights abuse you experience, there are common strategies and resources available to everyone involved in human rights work.  Our hope is that this video will be used for raising general awareness, for educational purposes in the community, for organizing, and simply to create a sense of solidarity with others involved in the fight; secondarily, where appropriate, as a set of strategies resources to consider. 



Out of the Silence is a fifty minute video in three parts. It can be shown as a single program or in separate parts. If possible, every viewing should provide additional time for discussion.


Part 1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The first part (9 minutes) describes how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights came into being, and its importance in establishing international human rights standards. While the Universal Declaration is not legally binding, those governments who signed it become accountable for their actions. This segment discusses how organizations like yours strive to close the gap between a government's promises and its practices - especially the abuse of basic human rights.


Part 2. Czechoslovakia

The second part of the video (20minutes) documents the history of the struggle for human rights in Czechoslovakia. This segment describes ways in which Czech human rights activists organized peaceful opposition to the repressive Czech regime, what they did to create the "political space" required to keep the movement alive, and what strategies they used to apply increased pressure on the Czech government to end human rights violations - until finally achieving in late 1989 a rare victory in the fight for human rights and a return to democratic rule in Czechoslovakia.


Part 3. Guatemala

The third part of the video (23 minutes) captures the tragic situation in Guatemala, where human rights violations are among the worst in the Western Hemisphere. This segment describes government repression against the indigenous people in the highlands of Guatemala, then follows the efforts of a small group of peasants who have come together to legally challenge the military's forced conscription of peasants into Civil Patrols. We witness firsthand the organizing methods of those working to gain human rights, how they use the country's new constitution as a tool, and how they monitor and report human rights violations. We see the risks they take and the price they pay. This segment also profiles the work of the international human rights community (NGO's, the UN, etc.) in rallying to the defense of the victims, shedding light on the continuing human rights nightmare in Guatemala, and demanding government accountability.



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