(A Statement on the 63rd Human Rights Day & the 13th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders)

On the 63rd celebration of the International Human Rights Day (December 10), we pay tribute to thousands of human rights defenders (HRDs) who offered their lives in the cause of freedom and dignity of life.  We take pride in the continuing assertion of others amid violent repression.  We salute those who have never wavered for the cause of human rights.

More than ever this year is a witness to the blossoming of human rights as an ideal and value in action.  The uprisings that spring from the Arab world, the protests that sweep major cities and urban centers in Europe, the Americas and Africa, the continuing difficult situations in Asia, all of which highlight the mainstreaming of human rights in governance and the aspiration of peoples for respect, protection, promotion and defense for human rights.  These conditions bring out the core spirit of people to be human rights defenders.  Young and old, male and female or whatever sexual orientation, rich and poor, summon all their voices together in pains of oppression in crying out mantras of non-discrimination, people empowerment and development, equality and human rights for all.

With these mantras, many tools have been mustered to usher effective advocacies and facilitate peoples’ solidarity with those who face persecution.  The social media for one made people see the actions going on.  Captured pictures and videos not allowed in a ‘seemingly’ controlled media have found their way through available modern communication technology, reaching even the remotest areas many people have not known to exist.  Appeals for help and international solidarity are made timely, on time and online.   ‘Revolutions’ for human rights have become virtual reality through communication gadgets made available for ordinary people.  What is inspiring, people have mastered these technologies to spread out the news, the truth and the dream of people to be free.  And, recognize the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world (UDHR, 1948; ICCPR, 1966; ICESCR, 1966).

On December 10, human rights defenders are celebrating too the 13th anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.  Their noble desire to promote the well-being of all has prompted the United Nations (UN) to pass Resolution A/RES/53/144 in 1998.  It recognizes the importance and legitimacy of the works of those who are at the forefront of defending human rights.  It acknowledges the vital role of HRDs in the implementation of human rights both in the international and on the domestic levels.

On these two important occasions, Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas asserts that:

  • Everyone has the right to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  • Everyone has the freedom of assembly, association and the right to communicate;
  • Everyone has the right to know, seek, receive and disseminate human rights information and form/hold opinions on the matter for public attention;
  • We have the right to develop new human rights ideas and advocate for their acceptance;
  • We have the right to effective access and participate in the conduct of public affairs, and to submit proposals and criticism;
  • We have the right to an effective remedy and protection from violation, the right to complain about official acts, the right to observe trials, and the right to unhindered access to international bodies;
  • Everyone has the right to participate in peaceful activities publicizing human rights violations and to be protected against violence or adverse discrimination.

Human Rights Defenders have the RIGHTS.  Let everyone put them to heart.

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