Giving Voice to the Voiceless, the Oppressed, and the Hopeless
Since 1948 when 48 member nations of the then newly founded United Nations adopted the United Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the World Human Rights Day has been marked on December 10 every year with predictable regularity. The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) has been a vocal partner in this annual observance in line with its avowed commitment to remain a veritable advocacy pillar in the civic space on matters pertaining to the upholding of the fundamental rights of all peoples against varied species of impunity. It is in recognition and continuation of this time-tested ethos that we join hands with the rest of the civilized world in marking this year’s World Human Rights Day. In that original milestone document, the UDHR strongly emphasised the need for the inalienable rights of every individual to be upheld and always respected, regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status.
The theme for this year’s World Human Rights Day, Equality: Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights, is a timely reminder of the powers of equality and non-discrimination in helping to mitigate ravaging poverty, providing equal opportunities for the world’s teeming youth population, ensuring a safer and greener environment, and combatting the obvious aetiologies of social conflicts and crises across every continent. An unequal world will continue to exacerbate poignant crises such as vaccine inequality in the face of a ravaging pandemic and deny lives of dignity to most of the world’s poorest people. This year’s theme further reinforces the importance of human rights to the achievement of all the components of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN in the global resolve to raise awareness on issues of rights and welfare. The United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, captured it succinctly when she stated that equality “means that we embrace our diversity and demand that all be treated without any kind of discrimination.”
The overall importance of the World Human Rights Day as a global platform upon which to hoist the noble precepts of fair treatment, dignity, and respect cannot be overstated. It elevates the key, but often-underrated discussion on the equality of all humanity, with attendant rights devoid of all forms of oppression and suppression. It promotes unity and jolts the collective consciousness of all nations into acknowledging the onerous task ahead, even whilst applauding the giant strides continually made towards the enforcement of the rights of people all over the globe.
The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) is saddened by the fact that Nigeria’s human rights records over the years has continued to flounder in the face of stark evidence that nations that have embraced the protection and promotion of rights for their citizens have built more resilient and progressive societies and are in pole position to better manage inevitable crises and conflicts. Child slavery, child labour, sex trafficking, sexual violence against women and girls, and brazen harassment, extortion, torture and extrajudicial executions by security agencies, and disdainful disregard for judicial processes by official and unofficial actors remain rampant in the world’s most populous black nation. The deliberate manipulation of the electoral process via violent rigging and sundry malpractices can be safely qualified as an abridgement of the fundamental rights of Nigerians to effect regime change via transparent electoral processes. More hideous indignities persist which have stymied Nigeria’s progress to becoming a just and egalitarian society, and which have also weakened her once sonorous voice in the global scheme of things.
In recognition of this sad situation, and with renewed vigour to tackle it frontally, we have rolled out a robust programme of events in commemoration of this 73rd anniversary of World Human Rights Day. We would be upgrading the information and comprehension of human rights issues with a determination to cultivate mentalities of collective resistance, regard, fortitude, and obligation. We would also deploy different avenues to build skills across a wide segment of the population for the protection and enforcement of the most fundamental rights.
As we clamour for more concerted action from every relevant stakeholder on issues of human rights, we will lean on one of our original tenets – FOR HUMANISTIC IDEALS – in lifting the banner of revitalization, and giving voice to the voiceless, the oppressed, and the hopeless. We urge one and all to take urgent recourse to the timeless words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world.”