Saturday, December 3, 2016

Dr. Nyla Ali Khan

Photo Credit: Wikimedia.org

"Women’s groups can... pave the way 

for sustainable peace, universal 

human rights, and security...." 


Dr. Nyla Ali Khan serves on the Advisory Council of the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women. She knows well the power of her pen. The writings and the books of this University of Oklahoma professor and granddaughter of a former Kashmiri prime minister are making headlines in both India and Pakistan.

Dr. Khan is the author of four critically acclaimed books:

The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism, in which she critiques the nostalgic support of subversive elements by the affluent diaspora from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and Pakistan examines the seminal spiritual and political role of women in Kashmir, while also highlighting the plight of Kashmir generally as a gnarled bone of contention between India and Pakistan.

A major anthology, The Parchment of Kashmir: History, Society, and Polity, develops an understanding of the region’s culture, resilience and fate as a political pawn.

Photo Credit: Shehjar.com
Her fourth book, The Life of a Kashmiri Woman: Dialectic of Resistance and Accommodation, is on her maternal grandmother, Begum Akbar Jehan Abdullah. It was released in June 2014.

Dr. Khan's goal is to engage in reflective action as an educator working with diverse cultural and social groups questioning the exclusivity of cultural nationalism, the erosion of cultural syncretism, the ever-increasing dominance of religious fundamentalism, and the irrational resistance to cultural and linguistic differences.

She prefers not simply to live in her grandfather's shadow but to "stand up for myself and be taken seriously express my anger without being labeled an 'Islamic militant' legitimately question things I don't understand," as she stated in a 2010 interview related to the release of her second book.

Nyla lives, breathes and exudes human rights through her writing.

In a recent article, Dr. Khan compared the situation of women in Oklahoma with women in Kashmir. She wrote: 

"Not just in Kashmir, but in Oklahoma as well, women can play an important role in establishing a more inclusive democracy and new forums for citizen cooperation. Female leaders can lead the way by offering new ideas, building broad-based political coalitions, and working to bridge organizational divides.
"In this way, women’s groups can thus pave the way for sustainable peace, universal human rights, and security from violent threats of all kinds." 

(See the article, "Women in Oklahoma and Kashmir: A Comparative Study," at the Oklahoma Observer website ... https://okobserver.net/women-in-oklahoma-and-kashmir-a-comparative-study/)

You're invited to attend the presentation of the 2016 Human Rights Awards on Saturday, December 10th, in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The program will begin at 10am. It will be emcee'd by former State Representative Seneca Scott. There is no charge to attend. Following the awards program, you are invited to enjoy a Free Speech Forum in the Senate Assembly Room from 12 Noon to 2pm.

Every year, the Oklahoma Human Rights Awards are co-sponsored by the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association and the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance.

Previous winners of the award include educators, physicians, students, and community volunteers from many different communities and all walks of life. They are united by their enduring commitment to the values and principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For more information about the awards program, please contact Wilfredo Santosrivera, 405-631-3027.

John T. Walters

Photo Credit: NewsOK.com

Through his activism and leadership in the Oklahoma City local group number 238 of Amnesty International, John Walters has been a champion of human rights for all. 


We are pleased to announce that John has been selected as one of the 2016 winners of the Oklahoma Human Rights Award.

John Walters has lobbied our representatives in Congress, he has organized letter-writing campaigns and film festivals. He has been visible and outspoken in defense of political prisoners, refugees, and everyone whose freedom and dignity are under threat.

Peter Benenson, the founder of Amnesty International, once said: "Only when the last prisoner of conscience has been freed, when the last torture chamber has been closed, when the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a reality for the world’s people, will our work be done."

John Walters is a model of Peter Benenson's gracious commitment and perseverance. Through his steady and humble presence, John has been an inspiration for many people, young and old.

You're invited to attend the presentation of the 2016 Human Rights Awards on Saturday, December 10th, in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The program will begin at 10am. It will be emcee'd by former State Representative Seneca Scott. There is no charge to attend. Following the awards program, you are invited to enjoy a Free Speech Forum in the Senate Assembly Room from 12 Noon to 2pm.

Every year, the Oklahoma Human Rights Awards are co-sponsored by the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association and the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance.

Previous winners of the award include educators, physicians, students, and community volunteers from many different communities and all walks of life. They are united by their enduring commitment to the values and principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For more information about the awards program, please contact Wilfredo Santosrivera, 405-631-3027.


Marjan Seirafi-Pour

Photo Credit: garrettduty.blogspot.com

A Persian language Instructor at OU,
she has advocated for human rights
in Oklahoma for over two decades. 


In recognition of her contributions to interfaith understanding, Marjan Seirafi-Pour has been selected as one of the 2016 winners of the Oklahoma Human Rights Award.

Here is a short bio from the Garrett Duty blog:

Seirafi-Pour was born in Tehran, Iran in the 1960s. As a child she attended schools mixed with boys and girls, but that all changed in 1979 when she was about 13. The shah of Iran was overthrown and Iran became the Islamic Republic of Iran. Many reforms were implemented, including the segregation of schools by gender.
Her family decided to stay in Iran after the revolution, but the next year Iraq invaded Iran and began the nearly decade-long Iran-Iraq war. After realizing that there was no end in sight, Seirafi-Pour's family decided to move to Oklahoma where her brothers and sisters had already been in school.
One would think that leaving a war-torn country for Oklahoma would be tough in many ways. From dealing with a new language, to the cultural changes seen from the Islamic Republic to Oklahoma. However, Seirafi-Pour said the most difficult part of moving was, "Just like every 15 or 16 year old girl, leaving the friends and people you have gone to school with for years."
Seirafi-Pour went on to graduate from Carl Albert High School in Midwest City and then got a Respiratory degree from Rose State College in Midwest City. Following that, she earned a bachelor's degree in Allied Health Education from the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond.

More from Garrett Duty:

Her toughest moment as a Muslim in OK came during what was supposed to be a celebration for the state.
Seirafi-Pour was the chairperson of the Governor's Ethnic American Advisory Council in 2007, when the council decided to give Oklahoma politicians a Centennial Qur’an to commemorate Oklahoma's 100th birthday. A Baptist group had given Bibles to the politicians, so the council thought it would be acceptable with Qur'ans as well.
They were wrong. The gift was seen by some politicians as offensive. Some denied the Qur'ans, while the media created a firestorm over this issue. Suddenly Seirafi-Pour and her council were the subject of international outcry regarding their decision.
Despite the negative outlook by some, Seirafi-Pour saw many good things come from the controversy. The Muslim community in Oklahoma remained united and provided a strong support group, which gave Seirafi-Pour a distinct sense of pride in the Muslim leadership.
Though some politicians were rude to her, there were many that were very kind.

The public is invited to attend the presentation of the 2016 Human Rights Awards on Saturday, December 10th, in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The program will begin at 10am. It will be emcee'd by former State Representative Seneca Scott. There is no charge to attend. Following the awards program, you are invited to enjoy a Free Speech Forum in the Senate Assembly Room from 12 Noon to 2pm.

Every year, the Oklahoma Human Rights Awards are co-sponsored by the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association and the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance.

Previous winners of the award include educators, physicians, students, and community volunteers from many different communities and all walks of life. They are united by their enduring commitment to the values and principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For more information about the awards program, please contact Wilfredo Santosrivera, 405-631-3027.

Marjan Seirafi-Pour's experiences in the Muslim community of Oklahoma have left her with a distinct sense of pride and optimism about the future.
"I think here in Oklahoma and in general in America that Muslims are being able to achieve what they want and be successful and work hand in hand with others to make America a better place," Seirafi-Pour said.

From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 18.


Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Garland Pruitt

Photo: News9

To ensure the political, educational,
social and economic equality of
minority group citizens


We are pleased to announce that Mr. Garland Pruitt of Choctaw, OK, has been selected as one of the 2016 winners of the Oklahoma Human Rights Award.

Garland Pruitt was born and raised in Houston, TX. He moved to Oklahoma in 1974 where he attended the University of Oklahoma. He graduated in 1978 with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Psychology.

Garland has been very active in his church as a deacon, Sunday school teacher, and mentor. His attitude in life is that everyone should be treated with equality no matter what your stage in life is. He is committed to his community and will stand up against injustice of any kind. For over 5 years he worked with FDIS as a counselor with youth on issues of family abuse, low self-esteem, education, and societal adjustment.

He has been president of the Oklahoma City branch of the NAACP since 2010 where he works to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of the United States and eliminate race prejudice.

Garland Pruitt is concerned for all people of this world, and he will stand up for what is right – whatever your race, religion, or creed. He believes that we are all of the human race, and we deserve to be treated fairly and justly, and this has been his mission as a decent human being fighting for all humanity.

Awards: 
NAACP – Thurman Marshall Award, 2000.
Kiwanis Club 2005-06 Human and Spiritual Values Award.
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity recognition of leadership and volunteering to the community of the greater Oklahoma City area.
APRI – A. Philip Randolph Institute 2003 Roll of Honor for many years of dedication, outstanding service, and distinguished leaders. 

The public is invited to attend the presentation of the 2016 Human Rights Awards on Saturday, December 10th, in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The program will begin at 10am. It will be emcee'd by former State Representative Seneca Scott. There is no charge to attend. Following the awards program, you are invited to enjoy a Free Speech Forum in the Senate Assembly Room from 12 Noon to 2pm.

Every year, the Oklahoma Human Rights Awards are co-sponsored by the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association and the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance.

Previous winners of the award include educators, physicians, students, and community volunteers from many different communities and all walks of life. They are united by their enduring commitment to the values and principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For more information about the awards program, please contact Wilfredo Santosrivera, 405-631-3027.

The Dialogue Institute

"Envisioning a society
where every person treats
each other with dignity" 


We are pleased to announce that the Dialogue Institute of Oklahoma has been selected as one of the 2016 winners of the Oklahoma Human Rights Award.

The mission of the Dialogue Institute is to promote mutual understanding, respect and cooperation among people of diverse faiths and cultures by creating opportunities for direct communication and meaningful shared experiences.

The Dialogue Institute envisions a society where every person views and treats each other with dignity, people come around shared values to promote the common good of their communities as well as the world as a whole.

For years, the institute has executed multiple inter-faith multicultural programs like Annual Friendship and Dialogue Dinner, Abrahamic Dinner, monthly scholarly luncheons, inter-faith academy, art and video contests for Pre K-12 students, early Thanksgiving dinner, international trips, book clubs and the Voices Against Extremism campaign.

There are two branches of the Dialogue Institute in Oklahoma. The Tulsa Branch is led by Mr. Muhammet Ali Sezer. The director of the Oklahoma City Branch is Ms. Kuaybe Basturk.

The leaders of this organization exemplify diversity and inclusion, and are without doubt, role model champions of human rights in the state of Oklahoma.

“Dialogue Institute envisions a society where every person views and treats each other with dignity, people come around shared values to promote the common good of their communities as well as the world as a whole.”
--From the website of the Dialogue Institute of Oklahoma

The public is invited to attend the presentation of the 2016 Human Rights Awards on Saturday, December 10th, in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The program will begin at 10am. It will be emcee'd by former State Representative Seneca Scott. There is no charge to attend. Following the awards program, you are invited to enjoy a Free Speech Forum in the Senate Assembly Room from 12 Noon to 2pm.

Every year, the Oklahoma Human Rights Awards are co-sponsored by the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association and the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance.

Previous winners of the award include educators, physicians, students, and community volunteers from many different communities and all walks of life. They are united by their enduring commitment to the values and principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For more information about the awards program, please contact Wilfredo Santosrivera, 405-631-3027.

Mana Tahaie

Communities in Tulsa and Beyond
Benefit from the Good Work of
this Advocate and Organizer


We are pleased to announce that Ms. Mana Tahaie of Tulsa, OK, has been selected as one of the 2016 winners of the Oklahoma Human Rights Award.

Mana Tahaie has been a long-time organizer for marginalized communities in Tulsa. She currently serves as the interim Director of Immigrant & Refugee Services at YWCA.

Ms. Tahaie has led the YWCA's racial justice initiatives since 2008 and women's empowerment efforts since 2014. Under her leadership, the Mission Impact department grew to include anti-racism training, community events, consulting, racial dialogue programs, and advocacy. She specializes in power analysis, organizational and institutional development, and identity-based oppression.

Mana has devoted her career and personal life to social justice. Before joining YWCA Tulsa, Ms. Tahaie served as the Deputy Director of Oklahomans for Equality, Tulsa’s LGBT advocacy organization and community center. She previously served as the convener of the Tulsa Say No to Hate Coalition and board member of Crossroads Antiracism Organizing & Training, the United Campus Ministry at The University of Tulsa, and ACLU Oklahoma.

You're invited to attend the presentation of the 2016 Human Rights Awards on Saturday, December 10th, in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The program will begin at 10am. It will be emcee'd by former State Representative Seneca Scott. There is no charge to attend. Following the awards program, you are invited to enjoy a Free Speech Forum in the Senate Assembly Room from 12 Noon to 2pm.

Every year, the Oklahoma Human Rights Awards are co-sponsored by the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association and the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance.

Previous winners of the award include educators, physicians, students, and community volunteers from many different communities and all walks of life. They are united by their enduring commitment to the values and principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For more information about the awards program, please contact Wilfredo Santosrivera, 405-631-3027.

Tom Guild

Photo: News9

Tom Guild -- Hard-Working 

Human Rights Champion to Be
Honored on December 10th 


We are pleased to announce that Mr. Tom Guild of Edmond, OK, has been selected as one of the 2016 winners of the Oklahoma Human Rights Award.

Tom Guild served for 17 years in the leadership of the American Association of University Professors at the local, state, and national levels. He worked for tenure, due process, and shared governance in the academy. He was twice given the award for service to the professorate at the University of Central Oklahoma and chosen for the national award for outstanding service to college professors by the national association.

His research on the rights of women-including freedom from sex discrimination including sexual harassment, also the disabled, and the LGBT community. His research resulted in presentations at regional, national, and international conferences and publications in refereed academic journals and chapters in books.

He served for two years at the state level on the Executive Committee of the Oklahoma branch of the American Association of University Women to advance the rights of women. He was a co-founder of the Brennan Society and has served as a justice in the society’s governance promoting the human rights of Oklahomans.

He played a key role in opposing imposition of Oklahoma’s right to work laws and has worked to promote increases in the minimum wage and workers’ collective rights. He has supported women’s rights by participating in numerous Pink Wave Rallies at the Oklahoma State Capitol. He has supported the rights of Native Americans, and recently attended a press conference and a rally to support the Standing Rock Sioux in their fight to prevent a pipeline from invading sacred tribal lands and defending the tribe’s access to water.

Tom is a longtime member of the NAACP and recently served a term on the board of LULAC in Oklahoma. Tom has worked for decades to guard and secure the dignity, personhood, liberty, and due process for all members of the human community.

The public is invited to attend the presentation of the 2016 Human Rights Awards on Saturday, December 10th, in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The program will begin at 10am. It will be emcee'd by former State Representative Seneca Scott. There is no charge to attend. Following the awards program, you are invited to enjoy a Free Speech Forum in the Senate Assembly Room from 12 Noon to 2pm.

Every year, the Oklahoma Human Rights Awards are co-sponsored by the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association and the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance.

Previous winners of the award include educators, physicians, students, and community volunteers from many different communities and all walks of life. They are united by their enduring commitment to the values and principles expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For more information about the awards program, please contact Wilfredo Santosrivera, 405-631-3027.