Today is the 20th anniversary of Human Rights Day.
For 20 years, on this day, governments and organizations and agencies and activists and world citizens and those suffering from the lack of basic human rights have been repeating the message:
"Humans are entitled to basic human rights!"persons with physical and mental disabilities, not to be discriminated against
For me this means:
persons of conscience, not to be censored/ monitored /targeted/ threatened or imprisoned
for voicing an opinion
detainees, not to be tortured
the elderly, not to be abandoned, neglected or deprived
children, not to be starved, abducted, trafficked or abused
women, not to be considered unequal to men
prisoners, not to be waterboarded for information
soldiers, not to be denied medical treatment when they return from war, damaged
citizens, to not be given a say or choice, not to be dictated to
anyone, not to be chastised for what they believe or don't believe.
It means freedom from:
bullying, physical coercion, forced marriage, being spied upon
cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment
abduction and/or enforced disappearance
discrimination because of race, religion, gender, class,
or sexual orientation or cultural background
It means having the freedom to:
Some of them signed and ratified
some signed but didn't ratify
some signed, ratified, but later stated they wish to withdraw.
Some neither signed nor ratified.
Some of those who signed and ratified, continue to abuse those rights.
[ratify: To approve and give formal sanction to; confirm; to make (a treaty, agreement, etc.) official by signing it or voting for it]
Covenants, Conventions, Convocations, Committees, Commissions, and Councils; International Summits and formal "Declarations" that are "non-binding". Programs of Action where no action is taken.
20 years of trying to get humans to respect other human beings' basic human rights. Human Rights Day, December 10th, is an opportunity to reflect on the gains and losses of the human rights 'movement'.
Some just talk the talk -- some walk the walk. Some do neither. Individual, international, and group activism abound. Now if only the Powers That Be could be brought around.
What does it mean for a country to signify its support for human rights but refrain from "embarrassing" another country accused of violating those rights because even the gentlest of reminders might be considered "undiplomatic", "politically inexpedient", "improper", "currently inadvisable"? Individuals have given the ultimate sacrifice--their very lives, defending human rights. We honor them today.
The whole purpose of setting aside this one day out of the year, is to remind people that all humans have certain rights and that every human should respect those rights.
20 years of shouting out/ "reflecting on" the same message.
sign and ratify
sign but do not ratify
sign, and ratify, but decide to withdraw
refuse to sign or ratify
a piece of paper signifying that they agree
that all humans have a right
to have their rights
Meanwhile - keep speaking out, in whatever capacity, and not just on Human Rights Day.
It's your right.