2018 Oklahoma Human Rights Awards presentation set for Dec. 8 at Oklahoma State Capitol

The Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Alliance will hold its annual Human Rights Awards ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 12 in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma State Capitol (4th Floor). The event is held to recognize those persons or organizations that have made a significant contribution to human rights for all in Oklahoma.

The 2018 recipients are: Silapberdi Berdiyev, Kayla Bonewell, James M. Branum, Mark Faulk, Victor Gorin, the Happy World Foundation, Adriana Loper, Ian O’Kidhain, Wilfredo Santos-Rivera and Bianca Valencia, Marilyn Vann and Michael A. Veasey.

The ceremony starts at 10 AM is free and open to the public. A complementary lunch will follow, also at the Capitol. Those staying for lunch should RSVP to OKUHRA.

The event will also feature speeches by Dr. Nyla Ali Khan and Ms. Sara Bana, both former award recipients, as well as Ms Bansari Mehta and Mr. Santos-Rivera.

The public is welcome to attend the event, but an RSVP is requested if staying for lunch.

Proposed program:

  • Pledge of Allegiance led by John Pettyjohn
  • Star Spangled Banner by Willard Linzy
  • Comments by Wilfredo Santos Rivera, OKUHRA chair
  • Speaker: Ms. Bansari Mehta, Membership Director, OKC United Nations Association who will speak on the significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Speaker: Sara Bana, founder of Ending Violence Everywhere Coalition and Civic Services Community Advocacy
  • Speaker: Dr. Nyla Ali Khan will speak on Democracy and Human Rights. Please see bio below.
  • Awards Ceremony: UN Association OKC Chapter Bill Bryant
  • Awards Presentation: Amy Hinton
  • Lunch served in the Senate Assembly, room 535, following the ceremony

Details on speakers:

Dr. Nyla Ali Khan

Dr. Nyla Ali Khan is a professor at Rose State College, and former professor at the University of Nebraska-Kearney. She is the author of four books, including The Fiction of Nationality in an Era of Transnationalism and Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between Indian and Pakistan, and several articles that focus heavily on the political issues and strife of her homeland, Jammu and Kashmir, India. She did her Masters in Postcolonial Literature and Theory at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, and obtained her Ph.D. at the same institution. She visits Kashmir frequently and have recently been active in giving lectures on the subject on Kashmir at universities in Oregon, Maryland, California, Washington DC, and New York. Nyla’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. Nyla was made a member of the Advisory Council of the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women, a member of the Oklahoma Academy, a state-wide public policy group, and was on the board of Generation Citizen, which seeks to empower the younger generation through civics education.

Ms. Bansari Mehta

Bansari Mehta is a volunteer board member for the Oklahoma City chapter of the United Nations Association. Originally from Mumbai, India, she was accepted as a student at the University of Oklahoma where she earned a Masters in Health Administration and Policy. While at OU, she received the Outstanding Multicultural Student award. She currently works as a Medical Practice Administrator — managing a staff of 25 employees in five locations, including three physicians.

Bansari’s work for the UN Association reflects her interest in community involvement, advocacy, and public health. In 2017, Ms. Mehta was selected to serve as a Youth Mentor for the United Nations Youth Assembly at UN headquarters in New York City. She helped mentees develop and present social ventures for sustainable development. She is also active with the Shot@Life Campaign of the United Nations Foundation. As a Shot@Life Champion, Bansari is an advocate for childhood immunizations, and she lobbies effectively for this cause in Washington, DC.

The Journal Record newspaper recently gave a “50 Making a Difference” award to Ms. Mehta — honoring her as one of Oklahoma’s business and community leaders.

Ms. Sara Bana

Sara Bana is a child survivor of the Iran-Iraq war, a child of political asylees, and a first generation Iranian-American. Sara began her civic engagement in high school by challenging the apathy of young Americans in their lack of participation in our democracy through the vote. It would be nearly a decade later before she would have the right to vote, or be granted any type of official national identity or protection from any nation-state.

Inspired by President Obama, she turned her local activism work and civic volunteerism into community service as a not-for-profit community organizer. The privilege and honor of being granted the trust of so many Oklahoman’s confronted with injustice empowered her with hands on experience to strategically intervene (battle) in systemic oppression, exploitation, and inequality in the heartland of America.

The collective result and mission of her work have produced two not-for-profit organizations. Civic Services Community Advocacy and the Ending Violence Everywhere Coalition. Sara continues to believe that the mission of her work is contributing towards Dr. Martin Luther King’s Dream; President John F. Kennedy’s agenda for America; President Jimmy Carters integrity in service; and President Obama’s faith in hope.




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