Moscow task force celebrates Human Rights Day

Human rights groups advocated for Idaho refugees, Indigenous Peoples’ Day


RACHEL SUN | The Daily Evergreen

Hui Li and her seven-year-old son Jim Liu write welcome letters to refugees Saturday. The cards will be sent to refugee centers in Boise and Twin Falls, Idaho.

JONATHAN VILLANUEVA, Evergreen reporter

The Latah County Human Rights Task Force celebrated Human Rights Day by tabling and creating cards to educate the community on refugees in Idaho.

This past Saturday, the task force tabled at the Moscow Farmers Market for their annual campaign for human rights. They researched different populations within the term refugees.

Joann Muneta, chair of the Latah County Human Rights Task Force, said that Human Rights Day at the market started in 1989. The non-profit organization was founded the year before in 1988.

“It started when the neo-Nazi [group], Aryan Nations, were marching in Coeur D’Alene,” she said. “We’ve been doing it ever since.”

At the table, the task force posted information about the different types of refugees who live in Idaho. They sorted the information by language and nationality. About half of all refugees in Idaho are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Walter Hesford, an active member since the ‘90s, said the reason why the task force focused on refugees this year is because of how big of an issue it is in Idaho.

In the tabling event, brochures, fliers and articles were passed out, stating Idaho has one of the largest populations of refugee immigrants.

KTVB, an NBC affiliate in Boise, Idaho, reported in September 2016 that there are more Syrian refugees in Boise than New York City and Los Angeles combined.

“Everyone has the right to seek and enjoy asylum,” Hesford said.

He also said in the past, the task force has been putting on events, and using the farmer’s market to spread more information to the community in Moscow.

Next to the main table was a station for children to make cards to send to the refugees at centers in Twin Falls and Boise.

Elinor Michel, member of the Human Rights Task Force, said that the task force also reaches out to the local K-12 schools to discuss human rights issues.

Hesford said one of the other events that the group does is the annual Martin Luther King Jr. community breakfast, which happens in January.

Francis Rodriguez, vice chair of the task force, said that the task force also works with the Moscow Human Rights Commission on other events and initiatives.

Ken Faunce, chair of the Human Rights Commission, said the commission was also at the market to collect signatures for a petition to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Rodriguez said that the human rights commission held panels on refugees in the area, and brought in speakers to talk about some issues.

He said, there are resources out there for those who are interested in the human rights and social justice work the task force is doing.