Defending and Protecting Human Rights

December 16, 2021

When we look around the world today, we see that the people of many countries do not have their human rights fully respected, honored, protected, and celebrated by the governments that have the duty to do so. In fact, everywhere there are many violations by state agencies, police and military, and fellow citizens. The human species aspire to the highest values of being human but are weak, remiss, and dismissive in implementing and respecting those high ideals of the rights inherent in the species because they are human.

Everyone should be aware that every person, according to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, has inalienable rights that must be respected and protected. Irrespective of their nationality, ethnic origin, sex, gender, color, religion, language or any other status, every person has universal rights. These are the rights: to life, to water, food, security, family, employment, education, freedom and health, and the right to live as they choose.

They have their right to freedom, not to be forced against their will to live according to the will and regulations imposed on them by the state or a group more powerful than them. The principle of universality means that everyone, without exception, is equally entitled to live with their human rights respected and protected, especially by the state. When we see the violation of human rights, whether it is the rights of an individual, a group, or an ethnic minority, we have to protest. We need to expose the violations, which can be serious crimes against humanity. Each of us, as humans, must demand that the violations end and the perpetrators be held accountable. If we don’t, then we too could be victims of such human rights abuses. While that is self-preservation, it is not the true reason we have to cry out.

The true reason for the protest is that every human is of equal value and shares the same rights as everyone else. “To violate one is to violate all” we can say because we are all one humanity. There should never be discrimination against anyone but the greatest crime against humanity is that there is discrimination, ethnic hatred, and racism against millions of human beings today.

In the Philippines, a report last 4 June 2021 by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) revealed there have been 208 human rights defenders and activists killed by assassins including forest protectors. The war-on-drugs police have verified that about 5,903 suspects have been killed in shoot-outs. The OHCHR put the figure at 8,663 killed. Many more have been killed by vigilante gunmen. President Rodrigo Duterte says it is evidence of success in saving the nation from the scourge of the illegal drug menace.   

Another glaring example is the repression of the Uyghurs in China. This is a severe violation of the rights of a whole people. This is the reason that several western nations have chosen not to send national representatives to attend the Winter Olympics in China next February.

The Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, North West China are suffering an alleged genocide at present. The allegations are that most of their human rights are being systematically violated to the point that what is being done to these people are crimes against humanity.

According to Human Rights Watch and to research done by Stanford Law School’s Human Rights & Conflict Committee, BBC researchers, and documents gleaned from the internal archives of the Communist Party of China, these crimes are widespread. They are designed to crush and deprive the Uyghur people of their cultural identity and make them into slaves of the Chinese Communist Party.

Thousands of Uyghurs that have been “rehabilitated and brainwashed” to obey the party are allegedly being used as unpaid labor in garment factories controlled by the Communist Party. The fashion corporations in Western nations that are buying the garments are under pressure to stop buying these products. It will do no harm to the workers since they are not paid anyway. It seems being an Uyghur is being guilty of a crime and condemned to forced labor.

A Xinhua Weibo page quotes a Chinese official saying what should be done to Uyghur People: “Break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins. Completely shovel up the roots of “two-faced people,” dig them out, and vow to fight these two-faced people until the end.” It sounds like a declaration of war against these generally peace-loving people.

If the Chinese people were free, democratic people they could be the greatest nation on earth because of their rich history, high-level education, natural abilities and intelligence, and their love of the arts and literature. If the Chinese Communist Party dropped the “Communist” political ideology and identity and became just the “Chinese Party” that respected the rights of all and allowed other groups to democratically share power, it could indeed be the greatest nation on earth, admired by all. But the Communist Party has chosen to retain total power above all else. Taiwan has shown the world that a Chinese democratic nation can prosper, thrive, and be free to enjoy their human rights and the respect of the nations of the world.

In Myanmar, the violation of the rights of the people has escalated since 2020. The most recent atrocity was when a military truck ploughed into a small group of protesters and then the soldiers shot and killed the demonstrators. Four were killed by the truck and many injured. The military that staged a coup last 2020 has violated the people’s human rights with arbitrary shooting, detention, torture, arrests, and killing captives in jails. Extra-judicial killings are common.   

The plight of the Rohingya is worsening inside Myanmar. A campaign of ethnic cleansing based on hate and rejection in Rakhine State by the military has displaced hundreds of thousands within Myanmar. Already, 740,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh for safety.

The world has a long way to go to evolve to an intelligent, compassionate place where human rights are respected and upheld, and protected. There is no greater mission one could have than to defend in every way possible the human rights of every single person, especially those of women and children.

Irish missionary Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in the Philippines in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sex abuse. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of OeconoMedia.

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