As individuals, we enjoy basic human rights, like the right to housing, to be educated, to speak freely, to move around, to vote, to have security, to have the protection of the law, and so many others, without distinction of any kind such as race, sex, political or other opinion, religion, etc. There are no exceptions to the provision of human rights. The basic framework of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes sure of this for all peoples and all nations. This is mirrored and reaffirmed in our own Canadian Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. To make exceptions is to have chaos, fear, iron-fisted law – all the things that diminish or take away the right of all of us to life, liberty and security of person.
Not even the highest politician or tyrant is exempted from these laws. While tyrants will proclaim in loud voices that critics need to be silenced, that suspected drug users need to be killed, that lawyers working for the poorest in Philippine society will be red-tagged and assassinated, that sugar workers with children can be massacred for planting vegetables during the tiempo del muerto, that suspected drug users are judged guilty and killed in extrajudicial fashion without the benefit of the legal system, and so many other evil things — they the tyrants are not above the law.
Tyrants peddle the excuses that human rights violations are necessary so that “peace and order” can reign, so that drugs can disappear from our streets and communities. The “peace” that is peddled is the peace of the grave and the “order” that is peddled is the climate of fear that terrorizes communities.
The Philippines under Duterte is the perfect example of how a tyrant can violate human rights and make the law stand on its head, and create the blanket of impunity. And so, on when December 10 rolls around, there is no cause to celebrate Human Rights Day, what with the bloody human rights record of Duterte.
However, we will mark the Day to highlight that people have the right to resist, the right to be critical, the right to fight for justice and the right to defend the people. In the Philippines, there are people raging against the dying of the light – including lawyers, workers in the cities and the farms, human rights defenders, students, urban poor organizers, women activists, indigenous communities, and yes, even church people — at so much great risk to their lives. To mark International Human Rights Day is to fight fascism, resist and condemn human rights violations in all its forms and hold all of those accountable to justice.
On December 10, Monday, at 6 pm, join the Human Rights Day Rally: Stop Criminalizing Resistance at the Commercial-Broadway Skytrain Station. The rally is organized by progressive groups and individuals in Vancouver including the Alliance for People’s Health, the International League of Peoples Struggles, Kagawasan Liberation, Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Migrante BC.
It is time to take action for human rights, not only in the Philippines but across Turtle Island and in other countries. Let us join our voices in declaring: Stop Criminalizing People Who Struggle for their Rights to Land, Income, Shelter, Dignity, and a Just Peace!
We’ll see you there!