Human rights, Digong and Aung San Suu Kyi

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By Nef Luczon


Monday, December 9, 2013

“EVERYONE has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


What exactly is the meaning in these ever-elusive ideals called “Human Rights?” How far can we exercise it and what is the guarantee that it is respected and recognized? Before the Human Rights Consciousness Week will end on the 10th of December, can we have a better understanding and apply these understanding toward other people?

Apparently, it’s a never ending understanding in tying the strings together to achieve that idealistic “Human Rights” but the more we tried our best to apply it in whichever endeavors that we are in, you are actually making a change.

Human Rights, contrary to the understanding of some, are not just limited to situations in an armed conflict, it is not always the military and the police who usually violates human rights but also some armed groups and other ordinary people who managed to “step upon” your basic rights such an access to basic needs (food, shelter, clothing and even education), including other rights related to society, beliefs and identity.

We might fear that even us, committed “small” violations of Human Rights toward others and we may not know it. But the most challenging part of all the ideals of Human Rights is when the question that we can retaliate in recognizing someone’s rights to people who violated our own rights? Just like criminals and other shenanigans from outside and inside the walls of our government and society.

This is the reason why Davao City Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte was always in the highlight of national issue when matters relating to Human Rights were discussed. As their saying goes, in Davao City, “life is here,” but for criminals, “life ends here.”

Yet truly, despite the “iron fist rule” and the “dictatorship” he imposed in the city (based on some non-Davao critics), he has a made an impressive enforcement of political will and even loved by many law-abiding residents there.

But again, how about the “Human Rights” of the alleged criminals in Davao City who were executed and killed vigilante-style? Some Human Rights group would ask, Commissioner on Human Rights Etta Rosales would really disapprove.

People who were never been to Davao City or stayed there for a short while thought that the people of the city are void of justice and are living in fear, but in reality, it was orderly and general public are nonetheless satisfied and attest to have never been safer compared in Metro Manila or elsewhere in the country. Some would say that it was actually the criminals who are living in fear when in Davao City.

In fact, I personally remember Duterte was quoted in saying that the Human Rights of the law abiding citizens are far important than those who commit crimes and take advantage of others. For transparency and disclosure, our family has a small property in Buhangin, Davao City, I grew up and studied there. I am still a registered voter there and voted last May elections.

But the debate will not end here; the Davao City-Duterte case study is quite a unique phenomenon that Human Rights folks are going crazy about it. But still, we should not forget that our own Human Rights is as equal to the Human Rights who are richer and powerful than us just because they have a status in the society.


Let me also share Aung San Suu Kyi’s excerpt from her 1991 essay, “Freedom from Fear:”

“Within a system which denies the existence of basic human rights, fear tends to be the order of the day. Fear of imprisonment, fear of torture, fear of death, fear of losing friends, family, property or means of livelihood, fear of poverty, fear of isolation, fear of failure.

"A most insidious form of fear is that which masquerades as common sense or even wisdom, condemning as foolish, reckless, insignificant or futile the small, daily acts of courage which help to preserve man's self-respect and inherent human dignity. It is not easy for a people conditioned by fear under the iron rule of the principle that might is right to free themselves from the enervating miasma of fear. Yet even under the most crushing state machinery courage rises up again and again, for fear is not the natural state of civilized man.”

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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 09, 2013.


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