To celebrate and make aware of the Amnesty International Day, Wankumbu discusses the significance of human rights and the impact peace has in establishing these rights especially the more fundamental ones.

It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” These were the words said by Peter Benenson, the British lawyer who founded Amnesty International.  He was a man whose empathy over the unjust experiences of two young men led to the birth of a global movement – one whose light has overshadowed the darkness that once loomed over human rights. His choice to end abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity was influenced by a newspaper article. And similarly, yours and mine can begin with our desire to live in a peaceful world.

We all yearn for a peaceful life. We all want to see the world we live in bleed with the essence of tranquility and not the darkness of an innocent person’s blood and tears: one where the cries of an anguished child would be history. The tears of a mourning mother would be a testimony and the silent voice of a man would be heard regardless of society’s opinion. Today, we commemorate the beginning of a movement that works to promote all human rights and offer humans freedom from discrimination. By choosing peace, we can approach many of the violations of human rights with a sound mind and a willing heart.

Human rights are not new to us. We have learnt in school and our communities about the importance of our rights and the impact of their absence. As humans, we have inherent rights and privileges that are ours to enjoy and for no one to abuse. In a society where power and affluence have more significance over the value of human life, peace is important for everyone to enjoy these rights without discrimination. When people are at peace with themselves, they are content. When they are content, there is no need to fight for more when what they have is enough. 

Many of us are ignorant of the fact that many people do not enjoy these rights. A right as obvious as the right to life is one that many people around the world are fighting for. For some, education, health and shelter have no importance in a world where the only thing they want is peace. Everyday, there are numerous updates on the genocides in Gaza. Death, destruction, division and displacement are the highlights of every news broadcast about this injustice. Not only Gaza faces such tragedy but many other countries around the world do too. But while we may feel we can do little to stop these inequalities besides voicing our stance in these sickening situations, what we can do is make sure no history doesn’t repeat itself. We are builders of our future, and finding solutions to avoiding these problems can go a long way. Being at peace with others and with ourselves can prevent an argument that could have serious consequences. 

On this International Amnesty Day, we should participate in raising awareness of the ugly truth that lies behind the abuses of human rights. We must bring to the surface the voices that are drowned out by the weight of ignorance and conflict. Human rights are for everyone and at some points in our lives, we have been victims of human rights violations. At other times, we might have been the perpetrators. Benenson paved the way for a future where attacks on the integrity of people will be minimal. We might not be able to lead a movement as large as Amnesty International, but today I am reminding you that a little goes a long way. Preventing abuses to human rights can be done through the most mundane things. So, show a little kindness and choose love. Even more important: choose peace. Happy Amnesty International Day!

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