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Opinion: Can our human rights come in handy this year?

by Nimi Princewill

If you know your rights, you’re to blame for every human rights violation which you let slide right under your nose. If you aren’t aware of your rights, you’re slightly worse. People who are equipped with the knowledge of their rights but do not teach others, or calmly watch the rights of other people get violated, ridicules the knowledge of their own human rights.

However frequent or limited in practice, human rights abuse is part of the make-up of every society—whether Third World or civilized. If many more people do not stand up against it, we’d eventually be consumed by it. Our rights are given to us to enjoy, so how much longer should they lie in wait before they come in handy?

Unfair police harassment (unnecessary most of the time) has steadily developed into an established ‘legal crime’ in almost every part of the world. We watch the police bully other people in front of us, while we turn our faces away. Why get violently frisked by an officer for replying an impolite question with sarcasm?

Every individual has a right to religion, regardless of how often they choose to switch their religious allegiance. Why condemn an Atheist, or psychologically bully an ex-Christian for converting to Islam? Why should the death penalty be recommended for Muslims who terminate their loyalty to Islamic practices?

People have a right to their choice of sexuality as long as they make advances to people of their own kind. It’s up to you to disagree with their ‘awkward’ choices based on your belief or value system, but why nod along in agreement as a gay or lesbian folk is being assaulted or treated unfairly because of their sexuality?

It is the right of a people to decide their political destiny through the principle of Self-Determination if they feel their interests would be better guaranteed with full autonomy. Any constitution that selfishly declares such Right illegal is absolutely in the wrong. Why demonize a secessionist movement that wants out of its parent-country on the grounds of oppression or poor recognition? Why’s the idea of self-governance most often dead on arrival?

It isn’t the right of government to infiltrate people’s private life by spying on their emails or phone records in the guise of secret surveillance. The occasional usefulness of this method doesn’t make it right or legal.

People have a right to choose their spouse from whatever race, tribe, religion or ethnic extraction if they so desire. Shaming them, or attempting to stand in the way of their union is ideologically-illiterate.

Why encourage severe corporal punishment for children? Why fire a vocal worker for insisting on better work conditions? African-Americans have a right to U.S nationality as core citizens, and not as licensed-generational-squatters. Can our human rights finally come in handy this year?


Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Nimi Princewill is a Nigerian-born writer and social reformer. He tweets@princewill_nimi

Read » Opinion: Can our human rights come in handy this year? on YNaija

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