Speakers urged to protect and promote Human Rights and take immediate action to ensure sustainable peace and harmony in the society
VOICE, a human rights-based research and advocacy organization, conducted an event titled “Freedom, Equality and Justice for All” to celebrate Human Rights Day 2023 on occasion of 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The event took place at VOICE’s Civic Center, Shyamoli in the capital and was attended by human rights defenders, civil society organizations, media, activists, women and youth.
VOICE has been working in line with the cornerstones of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights i.e., to infuse societies with equality, fundamental freedoms and justice for last twenty-two years. This year, VOICE is inspired by the themes of Human Rights Day. The commemoration is coined by motivating knowledge creation to promote universality and indivisibility of human rights, especially among young people, encouraging people to call for shared movements and thus empowering them to fight for their rights and take required action. Speakers at the event reiterate that, Bangladesh has ratified eight major human rights treaties and been elected as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the fourth time. Therefore, human rights need to be protected and promoted in the country at any cost.
Ahmed Swapan Mahmud, Executive Director of VOICE presided over the event and shared the organization’s concerns about the human rights situation in Bangladesh. Ahmed Swapan stated, “we are living in a situation where concerns over human rights violations in Bangladesh have been pivotal in external and internal development discourses. Human rights defenders including journalists, civil society organizations, etc. had to brace self-censorship that hinders the usual scope of work to raise critical voice.”
Speakers stressed that, human rights defenders, journalists along with women are prone to fall victims of human rights violation. Women rights are human rights and has been facing challenges every now and then. Referring a number of statistics and reports, Musharrat Mahera, Deputy Director of VOICE detailed out that, 276 journalists were harassed over the period of January to November 2023. 539 women were raped, 201 were murdered by domestic violence, 136 were harassed while 108 attacks took place on houses of religious minority community. Alarmingly, 978 children were harassed and 456 were killed. It also has been pointed out that, while Bangladesh declared to be promoted as a middle-income country in recent times, concerns over human rights protection will negatively impact the country’s image worldwide.
The discussion highlighted the duties of the government for an enabling environment to promote and protect human rights. It finally emphasized that the citizens along with civil society organizations need to act responsibly, exercise human rights and take practical actions for restoring peace and harmony to bring about sustainable development.
Among others, senior journalists Ramen Biswas, Kawsar Uddin, Priangka Acharjee, Rasel Mahmud spoke at the event.