Often, people have to fight for their rights, if at all they are to be in a position to enjoy those rights. In other words, rights are not just picked from a silver platter. On the contrary, rights often have to be fought for. The world is, for the most part, ruled by tyrants – who view human rights as a threat to their hold to power. Such tyrants are willing to go to great lengths, to ensure that the people don’t enjoy their rights. It therefore becomes incumbent upon the people to fight for their rights. And the question that arises is as to how a human rights activist can get people to that stage of being able to fight for their rights. And in my experience, if you want to get people to be in a position to fight for their rights, you need to:
- Get people to know their rights: this has to be the starting point. It is a question of educating people on their rights. You may have to hold seminars, conferences and mass media campaigns, to get people to know what their rights are.
- Get people to appreciate the fact that they will have to fight for the rights: here, the objective is to get the people to appreciate that the rights won’t just come to them. That they will have to fight for the rights. But the people will already be conversant with the idea that there is a price to be paid for everything. So your role will be just to highlight this fact. But the people will already be conversant with the idea. If, for instance, you are dealing with working adults, they will already be conversant with the idea that they have to work every worthwhile thing. You may, for instance, be dealing with a group of people who receive their paychecks at paperlesspay.talx.com — that is, through the increasingly popular Securitas Epay system. Obviously, such people would already be conversant with the idea that they have to do some work, for them to enjoy something as worthwhile as human rights.
- Get people to understand the strategies they can use in fighting for their rights: the strategies in question here include holding protests, writing petitions, electing the right types of leaders — and where necessary, engaging in boycotts, strikes and so on. So your role would be to teach people about the respective strategies, and how to actually implement them in the real world.