Human rights event to focus on anti-bullying

The Human Rights Coalition of the Central Valley will host several speakers at Fresno State on Saturday as part of its Human Rights Day anti-bullying event, which will focus on the treatment of Sikh students in Fresno County.

“Bullying: A Human Rights Violation Against Freedom, Equality, Dignity and Respect,” which runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in North Gym Room 118, will be organized as a part of the celebration of the 66th anniversary of the Human Rights Coalition of the Central Valley.

The coalition works with the community to implement different strategies regarding the development of human rights, social issues and social awareness.

Saturday’s event will feature Fresno Superior Court Judge David Gottlieb as the keynote speaker, as well as Fresno County school superintendent Jim Yovino, Fresno State President Joseph Castro, Fresno State professor of education Dr. Jacques Benninga and various other community members.

Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor and Teresa Castillo, the event’s organizers, said Saturday will touch on the recent developments regarding the large number of Sikh students within Fresno County who are being bullied at school.

As a result, the Fresno County Office of Education partnered with the Sikh Coalition in an effort to promote human rights efforts, including promoting Sikh culture and awareness.

“The bullying of Sikh students here in Fresno is a disturbing trend – a trend that we are fighting to end,” Kapoor said.

“Regardless of a student’s background or religion, they should be afforded the same privileges as other students and be allowed to earn a good education in peace.”

Castillo, who also works with the organization Peace Fresno, echoed many of the same sentiments.

“Frankly, it is unacceptable that Sikh students are being presented with so much hate, anger, and animosity for simply embracing and practicing their culture,” she said.

“The fact that the harassment is being engaged on school grounds where students are supposed to feel safe is even more shocking.”

Ashvinder Singh, a junior majoring in business, plans to attend the event and support anti-bullying.

“I definitely sympathize with my fellow Sikhs who are suffering,” Singh said. “I have two younger brothers who go to Edison [High School], and they’ve told me stories about a few friends who have been chastised.”

“We all will be there in support of them and others who are being affected by selfish, rude and disrespectful individuals within the Fresno County school system,” he said.