“LET MY VOICE COUNT!”
-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
It’s Human Rights Day once again! A grim reminder of the fact that there are millions of people in India and the rest of the world, who are still deprived of the basics which are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The observance of the day this year focuses on the theme ‘MY VOICE COUNTS’ which is ‘the inclusion and the right to participate in public life’. It aims to highlight the rights of people to be included in decision-making processes and to participate in public life.
The spotlight will be on the rights of all people, very particularly the poor and the marginalized, the adivasis and dalits, the minorities and persons with disabilities, the youth and other vulnerable sections of society like women and children. We are called today to ensure that their voices are heard; that they have a say in political processes and that we too demonstrate the courage to speak on their behalf.
Human Rights Day should also have a special meaning for our country where ‘freedom of expression’ is systematically being throttled by Governments and the police. Take for example, the case of the two girls from Palghar who were hounded, arrested, intimidated and harassed by the police and other goons because they had the courage to share their opinion. But powerful people today and other vested interests, can easily get away not merely with corruption, but also with murder, in total immunity and impunity.
Gujarat is a textbook case of how human rights violations are mainstreamed at every level beginning from the highest. As the State goes to elections, what is blatantly evident, is that several of those seeking elections have criminal records, including someone who has allegedly masterminded the killings of innocent people.
Human Rights Day is above all - a reminder that civil society needs to come out in large numbers to expose the myths, lies and half-truths being flaunted by Governments, through high profile publicity firms at the expense of the common man. Our silence makes us an accomplice.
We need to be more visible, more vocal on behalf of the vulnerable. We need to make our voice count!
10th December, 2012
(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052