Say no to gross human right violations

Rev. Fr. John Damian

Today, March 24th is International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims. It is a day set aside to say no to all forms of violence, injustice and oppressions against humanity.

Commenting on the essence of this celebration António Guterres declares, “On this International Day, let us stand in solidarity with all detained staff and pledge to work together to ensure that all UN staff have the safety they need to help the world’s most vulnerable.”

Apart from UN staff, there are so many other persons who have lost their lives. Some are being detained while defending the right of others. We must give honour to whom it is due!

The purpose of International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims is to: Honour the memory of victims of gross human rights violations and promote the importance of the right to truth and justice; Pay tribute to those who have devoted their lives to, and lost their lives in the struggle to promote and protect human rights for all; Recognise, in particular, the important work and values of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, of El Salvador, who was assassinated on this very day, March 24, 1980, after denouncing violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable populations and defending the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposition to all forms of violence.

Here in Nigeria, so many people have lost their lives, either as human right activist or even as journalist. Among them is the famous Dele Giwa, who received a bomb letter, while trying to expose a hidden truth.

A good number of human right activists are still in detention, while others are facing trials for crimes they never committed. It will not be out of place, if we also use this medium to remember our fallen heroes. We pay tribute to army officers who lost their lives while defending the lives and properties of fellow human beings.

Human right violation is the most barbaric form of behaviour. It is not just a sin against humanity, but is also a sin against the Most High God.

Every human being is entitled to a fundamental human right. These rights include the right to life, the right to freedom of speech, the right to peaceful co-existence, etc. The violation of any of these fundamental human rights is a crime against humanity. It is an evil that must be condemned in all ramifications.

The Christian Bible presents God as the Defender of the defenseless. God frowns at all forms of violence, injustice and oppression. When the Israelites were oppressed in Egypt, they cried to God for help and He answered their prayers.

In today’s first reading from the book of Exodus 3:l-8.l3-15 The Lord God said, “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, and have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey.” God eventually used His servant, Moses, to deliver the Israelites from bondage.

If you are among the oppressors, you better repent before the wrath of God falls on you. But if you are among the oppressed, rejoice! For God has remembered you. As Jesus declares, “Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven,” (Matthew 5:11-12). Child of God, you are hereby declared free from all forms of oppression and gross human right violation, in Jesus name – Amen!

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