Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Human Rights Day today

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!"

For me this means:
    persons with physical and mental disabilities, not to be discriminated against
          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
                        arbitrary detention
                            discrimination because of race, religion, gender, class,
                                   or sexual orientation or cultural background

It means having the freedom to:
                         own property,
                                have privacy,
                                      make choices.

As of last spring, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights had 74 signatories and 167 parties.[1]

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.

Tune in next year, same day -- December 10 -- to see how many governments or heads of state

sign and ratify
sign but do not ratify
sign, and ratify, but decide to withdraw
refuse to sign or ratify
or reneg 
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.