Those were the words of Mustapha Manneh, the Chief Executive Officer of Their Voices Must Be Heard. Find below Mr. Manneh’s colourful presentation at Kartong Central Market on Friday. The statement was culled from Kartong Weekly News.
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen! Their Voice Must Be Heard is delighted to join the world to commemorate the International Human Rights Day. On this day, we take stock of the progress being made in our ardent efforts to promote and protect human rights in Africa, especially in The Gambia. On this day, we don’t just commemorate; we focus attention on those at the risk of human rights violations. Majority of these people are women and children, the vulnerable members of our society.
On this day, we reflect on our successes, failures and challenges in the fight for human rights. The fight is a worthy cause. As a society, we can only fare well when rights are guaranteed and protected. The advent of democracy has added meaning and flavour in our fight. Significant gains have since been recorded in the promotion, development and protection of human rights. But the road is still bumpy in most African countries where citizens run from their governments when their rights have been infringed. It is an irony that our national constitutions guarantee fundamental human rights when violations continue unabated. Clearly, we need to understand that in the absence of human rights, we will loose dignity, equality and God-given freedom.
For us to win the noble fight, we first need to understand human rights, which I consider as the “fix-all solution.” For example, any effort to degrade, mistreat or marginalise a person is considered a violation. People should be free to choose their God, religion, association, government or pursue their life-long dreams without hindrance. The artificial creation of poverty, economic deprivation and social exclusion, which ultimately lead to chaos and instability, are all human rights violations. Failure to protect human rights often breeds feelings of discrimination, racism, xenophobia, injustice, and violence. Here we can make reference to xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa, a country where majority blacks grapple with economic disparity or injustice.
We cannot talk about human rights without children, the seeds of any society. They need water to germinate. Instead of inculcating our rich values in them, we often discipline and exclude them. For us to progress, we have to turn the tide. It is in this regard “Exhibition of capital punishment and violence against women” is chosen as this year’s theme. We want to exhange ideas on why children are persistently marginalised and their basic human rights violated. We called on teachers and parents in the Kombos to work in tandem to provide friendly environment for our children.
My organisation is willing to work with communities to build a better Africa, a continent where citizens have their rights guaranteed and protected not just in paper. We will respect our diverse cultures and laws. We love and cherish freedom of expression – the hallmark of any civilised democracy – but we don’t subscribe to freedom without responsibility. Their Voice Must Be Heard will not therefore support or condone any form of hate speech, profanity or inflamatory remarks.
In conclusion, I call on everyone to join Their Voice Must Be Heard to guarantee and protect human dignity, equality and freedom, which can only be achieved when we respect each other’s rights. Let us exchange ideas and come out with tangible recommendations. I wish you all a fruitful deliberation.