Don Bosco Philippines South Province

Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippine South Province FIS

Human Rights

When the Maguindanao massacre happened November last year, I was then in General Santos City giving a retreat to the students of Notre Dame, Tulunan. The brutal news brought unspeakable sorrow to them. Genalyn Mangudadatu was their neighbor. Sr. Evelyn, the Dominican Sister who accompanied them, was shocked because she personally knew some of those victims. The students themselves were afraid of their safety on their return home. A greater grief was felt by the members of the families of the victims who lost their loved ones senselessly.
Obviously it was human rights violation in great proportions. It was sensational because it had a political color. Moreover the atrocities were committed against lawyers and journalists. Other human rights violations often noticed by media are enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrests or extra-judicial killings. When these abuses are committed by police or the military, leftist groups denounce them and even stage rallies. I thought that questions about human rights is an exclusive language of left-leaning groups. But I was wrong.
The eye-opener came from the International Human Rights Education Conference: Promoting Human Rights Consciousness in Youth Development which I attended on 12-15, November 2010 at the Diamond Hotel along Apitong and Escario Streets, Cebu City. It was a joint undertaking sponsored by the Don Bosco Jugend Dritte Welt, the Salesian Philippine South Province and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. The participants came from Europe and Asian countries including government agencies that promote youth development, non-government organizations and religious groups.
The Conference gave me a much wider understanding on what human rights is all about. Its basic principle is respect for each individual as a person. Beyond the sensational violations shamelessly perpetrated, human rights has a wider concern that extends to many forms of marginalization and exploitations committed against children, young people, women, refugees, the sick, the uneducated, orphans or the migrants. In truth, there are many human rights abuses committed in silence by voiceless members of society. To this effect, the greatest historical milestone with respect to Human Rights was on December 10, 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” in Paris as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. It set out, for the first time, the fundamental human rights to be universally protected. It listed 30 rights to which everyone, irrespective of language, race or color, is entitled. Here is an abridged version of the Declaration:
1. All human beings are born free and equal.
2. Everyone is entitled to the same rights without discrimination of any kind.
3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person.
4. No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.
5. No one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
6. Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
7. Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection of the law.
8. Everyone has the right to an effective remedy for acts of violating his fundamental rights.
9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention, or exiled.
10. Everyone has the right to a fair trial and public hearing.
11. Everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
12. Everyone has the right to privacy, family or home.
13. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and to leave and return to one’s country.
14. Everyone has the right to seek asylum from persecution.
15. Everyone has the right to a nationality.
16. Men and women of full age have the right to marry and to found a family.
17. Everyone has the right to own property.
18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
20. Everyone has the right to peaceful assembly and association.
21. Everyone has the right to take part in government of one’s country.
22. Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security.
23. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
24. Everyone has the right to rest and leisure.
25. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services.
26. Everyone has the right to education.
27. Everyone has the right to protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
28. Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which these rights can be realized fully.
29. Each one’s rights and freedoms is subject to limitations of the rights and freedoms of others and of the general welfare in a democratic society.
30. No one shall destroy the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration.
These Human Rights are necessary for creating a more just and humane world. Educating ourselves on them make us more responsible as persons having duties towards others. In the end, rights stem from the biblical principle that “each one is created in the image and likeness of God” (Gen 1: 26). Hence it challenges us not to be self-centered, aggressive individuals but as a contributing member of the society willing to give and take from the community. Human Rights, seen from this perspective, should be everybody’s concern.
Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us.

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