By Edris Joya
For more than sixty years, December 10th has been celebrated as the Human Rights Day . The remembrance is a commemoration of the declaration of human rights, which was passed on December 10th in 1948. But at the same time, it is an annual reminder. It shows us how year after year passes, and still the situation for people around the world who suffer from human rights violation, increases only in small steps.
One might think that sixty years are a very long time, when in fact it is very little if it comes to changing things. If we try for example to transform the way people treat or perceive each other in our immediate social environment (this might include a school, university, or home town), we soon realize how incredibly hard it is to change peoples minds. Ways of thinking about or treating people, for example of a different ethnic or religious group, are patterns manifested already in childhood days. The result is a society where for example racism occurs on a daily basis.
If we can’t even, or only hardly can make our direct neighbors pay attention to human rights – how should this ever be possible on a worldwide basis?
Human rights are violated every day in wars like Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine and many more, and it is often hard to tell by which side of the conflicr. Exploitation, human trafficking and modern day slavery are still major issues of the 21st century. And countless journalists, whistle blowers or intellectuals that are held in prison or killed by repressive regimes show that freedom of speech is still not guaranteed anywhere. Random killings and genocide of certain minorities are sad and regular atrocities to humanity.
How come though that the western hemisphere has appointed itself as the ultimate protector of human rights? A look behind the bars of America’s high security prison Guantanamo Bay quickly lets the image of our so called civilized world fade a way. Not only the US, but also Europe ensure discrimination rather than the protection of human rights.
The increasing number of immigrants in many European countries is one of the biggest challenges for society because it requires innovative ideas and new ways of thinking. Instead, political parties and media often misuse the image of migrants as the new enemy and a threat to the local culture and population – only to have someone to blame for current problems. Sadly, this leads to stereotype thinking, prejudice and fear among citizens and culminates in zero tolerance. People from other countries face huge problems just finding a job or renting a flat. The conditions asylum seekers have to live in, sometimes for years, are devastating especially in the crowded accommodations in Greece or Turkey. Life in central Europe is not much more pleasant for them, though. Police forces make use of so called racial profiling and observe people with a darker skin color or foreign appearance much more often than locals. This shows how even in national institutions neutrality is slowly being replaced by presumption.
Facing these deficits in the protection of human rights, not just on the other side of the world but also in our immediate social environment, no one should be satisfied with only twenty-four hours for human rights every year. We need to realize that discrimination sometimes takes place in wars of countries far away, but sometimes just round the corner of where we live. This also means that everyone can step outside and start changing something right away. We need to work on this, the issue of human rights, together as a global community, and not just leave it all to governmental bodies, so that the steps of improvement can steadily grow bigger every year. An individual may be the smallest part of society, but individuals also make up the biggest proportion. With once being aware of this, every day will become Human Rights Day.