Promoting human rights

Paano nga ba sine-celebrate o pino-promote ang karapatang pantao? Sapat na ba ang fun run for this and that advocacy? Tanong ko nga palagi, may mga organisasyon na nagpapa-fun run laban dito sa ganito at ganyan. Gumagastos ng pera para ma-implement sya. Ang tanong ko lang, ano po ang positive outcome nito? May napapalaya bang inosenteng bilanggo? May naliligtas ba sa torture? Sapat na ba na alam mo yung tatlumpung artikulo ng Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Sapat na ba na AWARE ka?

Naitanong ko lang ito kasi oo nga mapapabilib ka sa mga tao na kabisado kahit nakapikit ang tatlumpung artikulo ng Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Kabisado din yung nine core international human rights treaties at nilalaman nito.

Pero ang tanong palagi, mayroon din bang ginagawang aplikasyon nito? Ang tanong palagi ng tagapakinig: Gaano ka ka-sincere sa sinasabi mo? Kasi sa tingin ko, ito ang pagbabatayan nila kung maniniwala sila sa iyo o hindi.

“Human rights are not just about ‘We teach you human rights,’” naalala kong sinabi ni Atty. Ibarra M. Gutierrez noong May 2012 sa isang forum tungkol sa human rights and the academe. Sabi nya, human rights is not some subject to be discussed, a separate entity, it is not an event that has to happen if the situation calls for it. Human rights are about the way we conduct our business, our life, ourselves.

“It is sad that simple respect towards another person is sometimes lost by simply teaching human rights,” he said.

According to Atty. Gutierrez, he taught in front of men in uniforms and he appreciated the teaching of human rights in the security and military sector. He is even impressed that they know their human rights. Ask them about the contents of the UDHR, the various definitions, and their theoretical grasp is tremendous. Awareness is very tight better than the NGO workers, he shared. Problem comes in when you talk about applications despite their very deep knowledge. There is, he reiterated, disconnection between their appreciation and their application. Atty. Gutierrez revealed that a study recently conducted showed that many officers say that human rights have no application in military operations although they are very well versed on the subject. So his major concern is the manner in teaching human rights to members of the AFP and PNP, to the soldiers and police officers. He asked, “How do we realign/ revisit training of people regarding human rights?” This remains a challenge, he said, and opportunities to work with security sector is there. “It is about building partnerships for the effective teaching of human rights and problems like this are not insurmountable,” he said.

Furthermore, he said: “Human rights are not only about human rights per se. It impacts a lot of aspects of our lives, entire perspective, mindset, it is not a mechanical approach. It has to be a way of thinking. In U.P. Law, we don’t teach what a law says. We are teaching people to think like lawyers. And respect for human rights is the objective of teaching human rights.”

Atty. Gutierrez’s parting message was this: “Know your rights. Assert it. In this way we promote a culture of human rights. Don’t be ignorant. We have entitlement. It doesn’t mean pakikipag-away, it’s about assertiveness.”

(Taken from my 2012 notes)

Note: December 4 to 10 is Republic Act No. 9201 National Human Rights Consciousness Week.

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