023. Hashtag #Rights365

Dear guests, my staff asked me to kindly require you to use the following hashtag: #rights365”.  No one looked surprised, most notted it down and used it for their tweets on the 10th December international human rights day seminar at the Dutch Consulate in Istanbul.

Amazing how in just a few years social media got integrated in our daily work. The hashtag #rights365 is a great one: short (with twitter they really have to be short, no #nlinternationalhumanrightsday as they take up too much of the 140 characters) and with a clear message.

Inspiring to see how other organizations and colleagues were reporting about their events on facebook and twitter. As always our neighbours, the Swedish Consulate, did very well; this time they were wearing T-shrits with human rights slogans; a good idea for next year! Copying? I prefer to call it ‘to be inspired’.

Hashtags with #rights365 or not, 10th December as international human rights day deserves additional attention. In Ankara and Istanbul there was a series of activities and shared messages. In Istanbul we chose the topic of occupational health and the need for safer workplaces. Tragically Turkey has one of the poorest occupational safety records worldwide. Especially 2014 was traumatic, with the Soma mine disaster (301 killed) and many construction related deaths.

It was a new approach to invite our traditional MATRA and Human Rights friends alongside our business relations, to listen to  speakers from the business and science community. The speakers were from TNO, the largest applied research institute in the Netherlands, from MESS (Turkish employers’ association of metal industries) and from EnerjiSA, the no1 private electricity producer in Turkey.

Legislation is in place in Turkey, but sufficient implementation is the key challenge; for a truly safe working environment one needs committed management, strict inspection and a conscious workforce that is prepared to speak out. Easier said than done, all speakers agreed upon. Still, they were cautiously positive about the present trend in Turkey. It might, however take years to see real improvements, although the example of EnerjiSA showed that in one year the number of work related accidents can be reduced sharply.

The critical  audience asked many questions. There made references to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including some philosophical remarks that all rights boil down to one overall right, the right to live a happy and free life. Could not agree more. Will we do it again, bringing together such different groups during International Human Rights Day? Most likely we will, as it came across as a fresh and new combination, an approach strengthened by social media.

The reception afterwards had good food (as always), some music and two dancers who asked people to read some articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This led to new discussions and new ideas to promote Human Rights. #socialmediaaremoreimportantthanyouthink

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