South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Published in The Daily Star on Dec. 09 by Mohammad Golam Sarwar ::

Raise Your Voice For Human Rights

IN every year human rights day is observed with lots of commitment and aspiration from national and International patrons. After 65 years of human rights declaration, human rights still remain a matter of observance and not being a matter of effective realisation. Do human rights exist for a day, or a month? Is it a matter of celebration or observation? The answer might be negative if we attach the literal meaning of the two powerful words, “Human Rights”. It is true that promotion of human rights movements in Bangladesh received much celebration and this celebration will continue. Astonishingly it is evident that human sufferings also become a great agenda to discuss amidst of the presence of rampant violation of human rights. Consequently human rights are turning into a matter of colossal discussion which ends apparently with no results.

The   increasing number of child labour, the highest position regarding child marriage, the untold agony of the victims of human trafficking, uncontrolled malpractice of law enforcing agencies are a few to mention for describing the human rights situation of the country.  This situation reflects a complete failure of our understanding human rights discourse. It indicates that we have failed to underscore the spirit of human rights that calls for dignity of human being. It is undeniable that the realisation of the true essence of human rights is not possible only through establishing human rights institutions but it depends to a large extent on the inclusion of the values and norms of human rights in our educational framework.  In this backdrop human rights education can work as a beacon to protect and promote human rights.

Let me recall the universal declaration which urges that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. The missing point here is that human beings themselves are not aware about their dignity and rights. Being unaware and insincere about their entitlements they often become the victims of human right violations. Because in this society one party is ready to exploit the ignorance of other in order to secure their vested interest. That’s why a saying goes that information is essential for empowerment and at the same time isolation of information often turns into a matter of exploitation.

The full realisation of human rights requires all human beings to be aware of their and other people’s rights and to ensure their protection. This is the undertaking of human rights education which generates knowledge, build skills and attitudes for prompting behavior that uphold human rights. Human rights education can make a real difference in people’s lives. When an employer torture a child domestic worker it is not his richness and dominance but the lack of humane mind devoid of human rights education which influences him to commit human rights violations.

Human rights education boosts the ego of human being to ensure tolerance, peace and to become respectful to others. It also involves the nourishment of the human impulse to engage in the struggle for human rights for all people. Human rights education can read between the lines of power relations and social charges so as to enable a struggle to change those power relations that impede the full realisation of human rights. The most notable feature of human rights education is that it can empower people by enhancing their capability to secure equal protection of law and access to legal institutions. It is well settled that only when people become educated and aware about their rights, they can assert and invoke their rights in governance system.  

Human rights education needs to be inculcated both in the formal and informal system of education from elementary level to the tertiary level. Human rights education at the rudimentary level can develop positive attitudes and values in children. They will start questioning at young age as to how things can be changed for the betterment of the society.

The theme of this year’s human rights day urges for protection of human rights every day of the year, human rights 365. The actual realisation of this theme is only possible if human rights education can be approached in a fashion that will raise the voice of common people with a view to making their government accountable.