The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Brenda Bowser Soder
O -202/370-3323, C - 301/906-4460

Human Rights First Remembers Senate's Voice for the Voiceless


Human Rights First Chief Executive Officer Elisa Massimino today issued the following statement mourning the death of Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy:

"Human Rights First mourns the passing of our cherished friend Senator Ted Kennedy, and extends our deepest condolences to his family, his colleagues, and his many friends. Senator Kennedy spent nearly 50 years championing the cause of human rights. He was a voice for the voiceless and a true advocate for the fundamental rights of all people-Americans, as well as those beyond our shores, including refugees and immigrants, victims of armed conflict and political prisoners in all corners of the globe. Senator Kennedy's belief in the inherent dignity of all people, combined with his drive to ensure that the United States lived up to its potential to advance that concept at home and throughout the world, animated every battle he fought in his long and distinguished career. We have lost a tireless ally, but the lessons we all learned from him-about perseverance, principle, and how to make progress towards a world in which all people can live in dignity and freedom-will ensure that his legacy lasts forever. We will miss him greatly."

During its 2008 annual dinner, Human Rights First honored Senator Kennedy as a lifelong champion of human rights. The group praised the Senator's unwavering and courageous leadership in advancing human rights at home and abroad, including in Central and South America, South Africa, Northern Ireland, the Philippines and Russia. It honored his enduring commitment to ensuring that the United States set an example for the world in protecting refugees fleeing oppression. Senator Kennedy was chief architect and sponsor of the Refugee Act of 1980, legislation that enshrined that enshrined core protections of the Refugee Convention into U.S. law, and more recently, he championed the Refugee Crisis in Iraq Act to ensure protection of Iraqi refugees including those who have been targeted because of their work with the United States or U.S. groups. Senator Kennedy was a strong and principled voice challenging U.S. policies that violated the Geneva Conventions and put American service members deployed abroad at increased risk.

Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.