The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The school library in collaboration with the English and Socioeconomics Departments commemorated The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), from 9th to 16th December, to make people aware that despite the fact this document was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, on 10th December 1948, there are constant violations of these rights and that it is up to each one of us to guarantee that they are respected and enforced worldwide.
The lectures on the role of Amnesty International and Non-governmental Organizations in the defense of Human Rights and the projection of the films Precious (2009) and Rendition (2007), followed by discussion on the violations portrayed in each of these films, were thought specifically for 12th form students, while the writing contest “Which Human Right do I consider the most important?” and the display of the 30 articles of the Declaration (UDHR) on the Christmas tree decorating the library were open to the school community.
The rules of the writing contest stipulated that students could present texts written in Portuguese or English and that there would be a First Prize awarded for each language. Most of the students chose to write in English, which made the task of selecting the best text in this language more difficult. The jury decided to award Honorable Mention to two texts due to the quality of the writing and the views expressed by the authors.
We hope readers of the school newspaper Encontro will enjoy reading all four texts (one in Portuguese and three in English) and that they will be inspired to participate in similar activities in the future.
When we take a little bit of time to check the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, we can observe several rights, all quite different and unique, but all directed towards the same goal, which is to present humans with rights we are all supposed to possess. Thirty articles, each defending one fundamental right for our lives as human beings.
Well, I’ve been asked to talk about the human right that marks me the most and the truth is, no matter how hard I look at the list, that right will always be the one mentioned in the third article: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”.
A total of eleven words that present us with none other than the human right that has been the most ignored throughout the entire course of human history. All we have to do is look back into the past of any nation to find this article being violated. In fact, all we have to do is watch the news to see it being violated.
Some may claim that freedom of speech, expression and religion are more important; some may be willing to sacrifice their lives in order to stay true to their beliefs, but most of the world isn’t. Aggression, rape, kidnapping, murder… many awful things are born from these, but the most relevant one is fear. Fear that you won’t see the light of day again. Fear of being hurt. Fear of not being able to see those you love ever again. Yes, fear: that is what really controls the minds of people. Those who are afraid are easy to manipulate and, by being manipulated, it’s only a matter of time until they are too scared to resist.
The Iraqi War, World War II, the Drug Wars in Rio de Janeiro, robberies, rapes, “silenced protestors”; the examples of article number three’s violations are everywhere to be seen. Only a blind man couldn’t see that, unfortunately, nowadays, money and power seem to blind far too many people.
This article marks me due to being, in my opinion, the one that should be the first fundamental right, since it’s about the very right of simply being alive! I fear that the world will continue to overvalue money and undervalue people. I fear for the day that we will no longer be safe in our own homes. I fear for the incoming doom that approaches not only Europe and the United States, but the entire world. And while so-called “responsible leaders” lead the economy and their own people into oblivion, I watch with sadness this text being ignored or being thrown away like thousands of pleas written in the past; I observe with disappointment as justice drowns in money and the world continues the same.
Author: Rui Miguel Ribeiro, turma 12 CT4
HONORABLE MENTION/RUNNER-UP DISTINCTION
There are thirty human rights and each and every one of them is as important as the other. In this short essay, I’m supposed to write about the one I value the most and as you can tell by my first sentence, it was not an easy choice, since they all seem equally important to me. After deliberating, I would think that the most valuable right is the first one, which tells us that we are all born free and equal.
In these next paragraphs, I’ll justify this choice of mine, but before I do that, I think we all need to understand what human rights really are. Human Rights are the fundamental rights that we are entitled to, simply by the fact of being humans. So, as you can see, they apply to everybody, no matter their race, religion or homeland.
Getting on with the justification of my choice, let’s first elaborate on this article. It tells us: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. In my personal opinion, the most important thing this article tells us is that we should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. Just think about it for a second, how would the world be if this was practised and respected? How many of the problems in today’s world are related with envy, greed and a frantic desire of many of us trying to prove to others that we are superior to them in an unreasonable way? How can we justify discriminating someone just because they are poorer than us, don’t wear the same branded clothes some of us do, or simply, just because they are from a different race? Now tell me, wouldn’t the world be a better place if this right was respected?
I’m not saying that I’m the most correct person on the world (because I’m not), but I try to be a better person as each day passes by and so should you. And I also know that 99% percent of the people who will even take a slight look at this won’t change a thing about their lives, but you know, if you can make at least 1% change their attitude, it is actually worth it.
Be that 1% and as Mahatma Gandhi once said: “be the change you want to see in the world”. There’s still time.
Author: João Fernandes, turma 12CT4
HONORABLE MENTION/RUNNER-UP DISTINCTION
Article 2 – “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.”
Declaration of Human Rights
The Declaration of Human Rights is a very important document. I dare say that it is the most important of all documents, as it is the basis of a civilized society. I read all the articles and all the vital ingredients to live socially are set forth. I believe the second article focuses on the most precious things of living in society: the freedom of being a civilized citizen, the respect of others and to be equally respected.
According to this article, everyone must have the same rights and the same access to opportunities, regardless of their race, sex, gender, language, religion, political ideology or status. It even proclaims that we must be treated equally, even if, we may not be in the territory or country where we were born.
Honestly, I have to say that if these rights were respected, we would be living in “a wonderful world”, as Louis Armstrong says. Unfortunately, reality is quite different from what this article states as people keep being discriminated against for all the reasons mentioned in the document.
Despite being in the 21st century, behaviours and mentalities haven’t changed that much. Many races are still ostracized; they have their rights, but they aren’t accepted as equals. We live in a society in which slavery exists in the same forms as in the past. Women are still considered in many countries as inferior human being to whom education, professional career and opinion are denied.
As regards religion, the situation is similar. There are many religions nowadays, but the followers of each one of them insist they are right and refuse to accept the veracity of the others.
Birth and status are important for many people. Sometimes, these two aspects give some citizens more opportunities to succeed.
Unless we, human beings, totally accept and respect the Declaration of Human Rights, we won’t be able to live as civilized and responsible citizens, as we are showing our inability to deal with the most precious thing we have: our humanity.
Author: Francisco Freitas, turma 11CT2
Viver é mais do que existir
Hoje mais do que nunca, vivemos numa sociedade marcada pelo bem-estar e pelo prazer a qualquer preço, acabando, por vezes, esta forma de encarar a vida por atropelar sentimentos e princípios básicos como sejam a defesa da vida humana em todas as suas vertentes.
Viver. Viver engloba imensas coisas e na sua maioria coisas bem simples mas que nem todas as pessoas têm acesso. Viver é o ponto de partida para tudo, para podermos ser reconhecidos pelo que fazemos, ter liberdade de expressão, possuir uma nacionalidade, ter o direito de casar, e ainda mais coisas que ao serem enumeradas ocupariam várias páginas.
Como podemos usufruir de todos os direitos presentes na Declaração Universal dos Direitos Humanos se não tivermos direito a uma vida? Haverá algo mais importante do que o direito à vida?
A vida é o bem mais precioso que todos nós possuímos, uma vida com direito à liberdade e à segurança pessoal. Por isto é que todas as pessoas, seja qual for a sua raça, a sua nacionalidade, o seu sexo, a sua condição económica e social, a sua orientação sexual, merecem uma vida digna, em que sejam respeitados.
Contudo, temos de ter em atenção que se ter uma vida é um direito, respeitá-la passa a ser obrigatoriamente um dever, pois só podemos engrandecer o direito à vida se cumprirmos o nosso dever. E respeitá-la é um dever que passa por diversas coisas. Não podemos tentar tirar a alguém esse direito, temos sim que ajudar todas e quaisquer pessoas a usufruir o máximo possível desse direito. Um sem-abrigo, por exemplo, merece tanto como qualquer pessoa uma vida digna e não a tem, mas é direito dele tê-la.
Então, na minha opinião, é nosso dever ajudá-lo. Além disto, e mais importante ainda, é não permitirmos homicídios nem suicídios. Estes são, no meu ponto de vista, os maiores atentados ao direito à vida, e consequentemente, aos direitos humanos. Principalmente o suicídio. Como é que uma pessoa pode acabar com a sua própria vida, recusando assim um dos maiores direitos humanos, enquanto outras lutam arduamente por possuírem esse direito, por terem uma vida? O meu pai suicidou-se e essa é uma das maiores razões para que eu considere este o direito mais importante para mim. Este foi o maior atentado e desrespeito à vida que assisti ao longo da minha vida. É, também, na minha opinião, o desrespeito pelo direito à vida o que causa maiores estragos num maior número de pessoas.
Em suma, por alguma razão, a primeira coisa que possuímos quando nascemos é a vida e só depois poderemos adquirir outras coisas como liberdade e reconhecimento. Possuímos um direito à vida intransmissível, irrenunciável e indisponível. "Todo o indivíduo tem direito à vida, à liberdade e à segurança pessoal", desde sempre para sempre, sem interrupções!
Autora: Sandra Clementina Salgado Pereira, nº 23, 11º CT4