By Emily Hausheer
The Human Rights Masters students met with Piero Tozzi, Republican Staff Director, Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. The Capitol building holds great significance in both US History and current events. It is a building of immense beauty, and its walls have beheld great turmoil. These halls are painted with great scenes from history, and great human rights heroes from around the world find themselves in the tableau of Capitol art. Just like the Capitol hallways depict people as different as Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Kosciuszko, Garibaldi, Kossuth, Bolivar and other heroes from around the world- the committees dealing with human rights hold an amount of unity bringing together people from different walks of life that you may never expect.
Tozzi discussed the daily life of working on a committee and having to work with bipartisanism when it came to addressing global issues. He mentioned how on the international stage many Americans can agree on issues such as Sudan and China grossly violating human rights. He shared anecdotes of people from the left and the right who came together in defense of human rights, and helping to bring a light to Chen Guangcheng’s situation in China. People put their partisan differences aside in the name of rights, an issue we can all unite under.
Tozzi explained that people as different as Rep. Chris Smith and Rep. Nancy Pelosi can find common ground on many issues and work together such as helping a Chinese dissident escape China. Across the board on the issue of China, everybody on Capitol Hill expresses disapproval of the way the Chinese government has been handling minority groups and silencing their right to free speech.
Regardless of our background or political differences we are all called to be a voice for those who do not have one. The policy world is an important place to do just that. While working with others in the Capitol on the important big issues, you may find your most unlikely ally in the human rights field was sitting across from you all this time. While policy work with Rep. Pelosi and the humanitarian spirit of Josephine Bakhita may look different on the outside- on the heart of the issue liberty is the foundation bound together by the social contract of humanity. Much like the pillars of the Capitol crypt (or a cathedral!) hold a building by balancing off each other- our rights do also and depend on all of us (regardless of politics) holding it up.