Monday, December 10, 2007

To be humans, we need Rights

Today marks the United Nations’ International Human Rights Day. There has been a plethora of human rights issues in the world over the years ranging from outright discriminations, child labour, slavery to abuses such as torture and inhumane treatments or punishments. As UN’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has mentioned:

It is our duty to ensure that these rights are a living reality -- that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. It is often those who most need their human rights protected, who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists -- and that it exists for them.

The term “human rights” seemed like something very abstract and difficult to be understood by common people and nothing beats having a video and some pictures to persuade people that protecting and promoting human rights is necessary.

Above: Jim Carrey spoke about the human rights violations in Burma. Children being forced to become soldiers in Burma as a result of continued military expansion, high desertion rates and a lack of volunteers. There has been a clear violation of minimum age for military recruitment. Aung San Suu Kyi has been wrongfully put under house arrest even though she had earned the right to set up a democratic government.

Right: Sudan - Civilians under attack in scramble for Darfur. Relief organisations are still facing problems reaching people in need, due to insecurity, poor road infrastructure, the size of the territory affected (roughly equivalent to France), and the ongoing rainy season. Therefore, according to the United Nations, needs in most sectors (food, shelter, clean water, primary health care) are only being partially met.

Left: Mass graves in Iraq graphically testifies to the brutality of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the challenges of building a more pluralistic and law-based state.

While we may count ourselves lucky to live in a peaceful and affluent society like Singapore, there is still a need for a platform to address several human rights issues such as maid abuses, child abuses, and discriminations against other races, women and homosexuals etc. Thus, I fully support the petition calling for the setting up of a national human rights commission in Singapore led by SG Human Rights’ founding member and lawyer Chia Ti Lik.

The following article was obtained from AsiaOne:

Group of human rights activists on Sunday launched a petition calling for the setting up of a national human rights commission.

The call comes from SG Human Rights, a nine-member informal group set up in October following the July decision by Asean leaders to include a provision for a human rights body in the Asean Charter.

Its petition launch took place at the Speakers' Corner in Hong Lim Park and was one of several activities held around the island at the weekend to commemorate Human Rights day on Monday.

The day marks the anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Dec 10, 1948.

Founding member Chia Ti Lik, a lawyer and former Workers' Party member, said the group felt that more attention needed to be paid to human rights if Singapore was to become a truly first-world nation.

He hopes for an independent panel that would check human rights abuses and educate the public on human rights issues.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans must claim their Citizens' Right first before progressing to 'Human Right'. Knowing that foreigners are treated better than locals, one must realise that his/her citizenship is quite worthless.

Human Right is only respected by Respectable Regimes that honour the Rights to their Citizenries.