By: Haruka Yuminaga
Haruka Yuminaga was a New Tactics intern during summer 2016. She wrote about her experience in this letter to her parents.
Hi Mom and Dad:
This past summer, I interned in the New Tactics for Human Rights program at Center for Victims of Torture (CVT), a nonprofit organization that aims to heal victims of torture. New Tactics supports human rights defenders to work more strategically and effectively. One way they do this is by sharing tactics, three of which I translated into Japanese:
The first of these was “Using parallel international and national lobbying channels to address discrimination,” which focuses on discrimination against the Amazigh ethnic group in Morocco. Azetta, a network that coordinates NGOs working for the Amazigh culture and linguistic rights, lobbied Moroccans to allow the Amazigh to use their own language to name their children. This shows that people can start small, tackling minor issues, to address broader issues of discrimination.
The second tactic was from the apartheid era in South Africa, “Using a victim accompaniment process to provide emotional support for testimony.” It talks about utilizing emotional support from volunteers to make public hearings more comfortable for victims of human rights violations. It is essential to care for victims’ emotions when addressing human rights issues.
The third tactic was about human trafficking in the Philippines, “Building allies with government institutions and port communities to prevent human trafficking and protect victims.” In it, an organization cooperated with the government port authority to prevent human trafficking. I learned that human rights workers cannot solve problems by themselves; they need to involve others to achieve their goals.
The translation was pretty difficult for me. There are some words in English that do not correspond with Japanese, and vice versa. For example, “痛いほど分かる” or “頑張る” does not have a direct translation into English, and “controversial,” ”advocacy,” or “lobbying” are hard to translate into Japanese.
Thinking that these tactics might help people in Japan suffering from human rights issues was rewarding for me. Inspired by these tactics, I hope more resources will be made available in Japanese and be used as case studies for coping with human rights issues.
I wish such resources were available when you moved to Japan from China about twenty years ago. Not understanding a single Japanese word, you strived to create a better future for you and me. No matter how unfairly you were treated as a Chinese in Japan, you worked relentlessly for your goals. I cultivated my passion for human rights by listening to your stories and seeing how hard you worked for the family. Every image of you calling customers late at night or always keeping a small notebook to jot down the ideas for business is in my head.
My passion comes from you. I want to provide the support that you were not able to get in your hardest time. The discrimination faced by our family because of our ethnic heritage made me want to partner with people who are struggling from similar problems. I see something common between the people who survived torture and you. You have the sadness, tiredness, and feeling of betrayal, but fortitude and determination in your eyes. Survivors of torture and people who are being discriminated against are not different from us. They are hundreds of thousands of “yous” twenty years ago. I see you in every one of the victims. And as your daughter, I want to help millions of “yous.” Your experience and my unique background sparked my passion about human rights.
Translating tactics, I actually felt the presence of millions of people in the world facing discrimination. It is different to read about them and see how they overcame the hardship. I was inspired by how much work CVT and other organizations have done and struck by the urgent need to tackle this issue in the future.
I am not sure what comes next. I would like to explore different kinds of fields, maybe finance, research, or technology. But I am sure that in the future, I will definitely come back in the field of human rights. I hope you can support my passion.