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Human rights sculpture finds home in parliament

Barbara Eichin (left) and the interior minister, Ruth Dreifuss, at the inauguration. Keystone

The interior minister, Ruth Dreifuss, has inaugurated a sculpture dedicated to human rights. The bronze triptych, inscribed with the texts of three human rights declarations, has been given a permanent home under the dome of the federal parliament.

At a ceremony in Berne on Tuesday, Dreifuss said the work of art “paid tribute to those who have fought for freedom of expression, freedom to criticise those in power and the freedom to defend ideals which were ahead of their time.”

The sculpture is the work of the Basel-based artist, Bettina Eichin, and underlines how efforts to promote human rights go back much further than the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948.

The three texts inscribed in the bronze panels are the Virginia Bill of Rights of 1776, the Declaration of Human Rights made after the French Revolution in 1789, and a little-known text from 1791 by a French author, Olympe de Gouges, calling for equal rights for women.

Parts of the sculpture were displayed in parliament in 1998, as part of celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the federal constitution of 1848. The heavy work had to be removed, largely for security reasons, and has been brought back to the building following a petition signed by 120 members of parliament.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR