Dear Human Rights Day
Dear Human Rights,
I have decided to write you a letter. You are so important and so valuable that an entire day has been dedicated to you. That brings quite a responsibility with it, as we will all be thinking of you more than usual on that day and we will also all be listening and reading attentively as to what you will have to say.
I want to thank you for highlighting human rights and creating a vast awareness to all the rights all human beings have, helping us to strive towards a better way of dealing with our communities and assisting us all to do our very best to bring these rights to all human beings and standing up for those who are being denied their human rights. The greatest pleasure, of course, is to bring human rights to those who do not even know that they have human rights. To those who think that their unspeakable abuse is just ‘normal’. To those who never experience kindness or goodness or have never had someone shielding them from their human family who continue to trample on them without consequences. So thank you for that, I believe that you have made a huge difference already and I trust that you will continue with this fight for the good of all human beings, including those you do not like.
I have this against you though. Why are you more ‘active’ in cities than in rural areas? Rural humans need you, as their suffering goes largely unnoticed and fear prevents reporting. The circle of violence and abuse grows out there in the far- away places and is festering as it grows to the delight of the abusers. Why are those who know their own human rights continuing to take advantage ever so boldly on those they consider of less value? Of those they demand obedience at all costs? Allow me to give you an example: There is a strike. The area is rural. People rightfully exercise their rights. The organisers set the rules. Nobody goes to work. Nobody goes to school. Nobody leaves the area and nobody comes into the area. This continues for days. Inside the area is a single mother. She is a diabetic. She has to go to the clinic to collect her medication. She shows the organisers her medical records. She explains and begs to be allowed to the clinic some five kilometres away. Eventually the arrogant, aggressive, and young but in charge leaders tell her they will watch for her return and she had better not be long. The mother of five fearfully walks to the clinic and receives her medication.
On her return walk, she happens to pass a store. She sees a few loaves of bread. Her five children are hungry. She makes a decision – like good mothers always do. She purchases a single loaf of bread and goes back to her no-go zone, her humble home. One of the leaders spots her and asks her in a very unkind manner if she has received her medication. She answers in the affirmative. He demands to see the medication. She reaches into her pocket and produces the medication. Other leaders draw close to this encounter. One of the other leaders asks her to open her bag. He sees the single loaf of brown bread. She is met with such rage that she would dare to buy a loaf of bread. She tries to defend her action, saying that she has five hungry children at home and she wanted them to have something to eat. They push her around. She is pushed to the ground and instructed to eat the entire loaf right there in front of them before they will allow her to leave and go home. It is a scorching, hot day and she has to swallow the loaf there in front of them. No water to drink. They inform her that they are teaching her a lesson in obedience.
She eventually leaves, weeping and shaking with fear. She has to go home and has nothing to give her children. In this true tale, how many human rights were violated? I have this against you that those who have agendas of power and politics are never brought to book. On this 2018 Human Rights Day, rather than loud speeches, songs and chants, perhaps a gathering of how to go forward as Human Rights might be better carried out in the name of all human beings, especially the powerless. I have this against you, you have allowed your special day to be politicised! Why?
I have this against you. Why do you so boldly stand up against hate speech, but are impartial to so many hate acts?
May I make a suggestion for you to consider? Instead of working for Human Rights, work with Human Rights. And if you cannot tell the difference between the two – shame on you, because that will be the saddest message you will ever send out to all of us humans, not just on your special day, but every day.
Rita Edkins. Just a missionary.
African Blessings Mission Director