Published On: Tue, Nov 29th, 2016

10 Day human rights defense challenge launched

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Laurence Sibanda
AS International Human Rights Day beckons, a local human rights organization, Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights has launched a 10 day initiative to upscale human rights defense within the region. Matabeleland region, has since independence been on the receiving end of gross human rights violations. These violations have mainly been in the form of unequal access to basic services as compared to Mashonaland regions as well as the Gukurahundi genocide, where an estimated 20000 people from the region were butchered by the villainous 5th brigade.
The initiative, dubbed, 10 days stand for someone’s rights challenge will run from the 1st of December till the 10th this year. In a public statement, the institute’s general secretary Mr Benedict Sibasa challenged the people of uMthwakazi to stand up for the rights of others through easy and simple actions.

“As Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights we encourage the people of Matabeleland to join the 10 Days Stand for Someone’s Rights Challenge. This challenge is aimed as raising awareness on human rights to the broader community, promoting human rights protection and solidarity.” he said in the statement.

The initiative is aimed at building the citizens’ capacity to utilize already existing channels in their community to advocate for others’ rights.

“Some easy actions that people can do as part of the challenge include, telling and explaining to someone or a group of people either in church, at school, at home, in class, at work, in a club or in their community about human rights and ways of reporting rights violations, distributing copies of the Constitution of Zimbabwe or copies of the Bill of Rights to people, as well as demanding justice everytime they witness a violation of someone’s right in both the public and private spaces.”

‘During this challenge we also urge the public to report rights violations to public officials through letters and demanding that they also stand up for someone’s rights, observe that you do not violate other people’s rights and encourage others to do the same. They can also individually or in groups post pictures or videos of what they are doing as human rights defenders on social media platforms,” he said
The institute further revealed that the challenge is also aimed at changing the public attitude towards human rights from that of passive recipients of human rights defense initiatives to that of proactive human rights defenders.

‘Through this challenge we hope to make people realize that it is equally their responsibility to stand for their rights and that of others, it is not merely the government’s responsibility.” Mr Sibasa said.
International Human Rights Day is a United Nations observance day commemorated yearly the world over to raise awareness, consciousness and solidarity on human rights. The day is commemorated on the 10th of December annually in recognition of the day on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. This year’s commemorations will run under the theme, Stand up for someone’s rights today.

Meanwhile, the outgoing United Nations Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon has urged everyone to recommit to guaranteeing the fundamental freedoms and protecting the human rights of all.