COLUMN: Human rights reflections

Shereen Rafea | Website Editor

Meet Handala. Drawn by the late cartoonist Naji Al-Ali, Handala represents a ten-year old Palestinian boy living in a refugee camp. He is a symbol of struggle and survival. Naji Al-Ali drew cartoons in the 1970s that showed Palestinian refugees lives and struggles. Handala was a recurring character in his drawings. In a way Handala can also represent what 2011 has been like so far.

It has been a year of revolutions, from successful ones in Tunis and in Egypt, to ongoing ones in Libya, Syria and Yemen. These revolutions shook the international media,that rushed to cover the fight for freedom. Unfortunately that fight has also claimed thousands of lives. Decades after the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, protection of rights is still a dream for thousands of people. With the current revolutions in the Arab region, and the preceding civil wars in the rest of the world, it is clear that human rights protection still need a lot of work. One practice that is still common nowadays is prisoners of consciousness . These prisoners are individuals jailed or tortured for expressing their opinions. Each revolution and each civil war saw the imprisonment of politicians, human rights activists, or any person who dared to speak their opinion.

Past examples of these violations exists in wars that took place in the Congo, Sri-Lanka and in Rwanda. Each of them bought bloodshed and suffering. What is important to note is the impact media can have on human rights protection world-wide. Media that tackles these violations can empower people and spread awareness. However in oppressed countries with corrupt governments, media can also spread propaganda and leave the truth behind. With censorship and oppression comes 1000 of stories that are never heard and rights violations that are never solved. Media can aid corruption and can cause a lot of damage.

However by utilizing the freedom of speech and the technology you have available, and by staying educated on issues around the world, you can make media that has a positive impact on human rights. That impact can happen by reading jhr Concordia and contributing to its site, or by utilizing your free speech towards spreading awareness. By becoming a human rights reporter you can write an article, shoot a video or take pictures that raise awareness on human rights issues. In the end its about voices, and there are many that need to be heard. The fact that you are reading this site right now means we’ve caught your attention, so why not catch ours next?

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