Diversity matters

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“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31: 8-9)

The promotion and protection of human rights will be at the forefront this week. It’s because Saturday, May 28, will be marked as Amnesty International Day.

Founded in London in 1961, Amnesty International is a non-governmental organization focused on human rights.

The beginning of the organization came following the publication of “The Forgotten Prisoners” in a London newspaper.

The article, written by lawyer Peter Benenson, the publication cited Articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and called for amnesty in favor of the inmates.

Since then, AI expanded its network of human rights advocates that today, it has about 10 million members and supporters across continents.

AI aims to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights and to give justice for those whose rights have been violated.

I remember receiving on my Daily Star editor’s desk regular mails from the regional, national and overseas AI groups appealing to the media to help promote human rights and expose alleged abuses, particularly at the height of the Marcos regime and the years shortly before the EDSA Revolution. The reports were about abuses attributed to authorities, missing kin and similar incident.

Today, AI continues its vigilance which has expanded to condemnation of extra-judicial killings and “red taggings” leading to reported arrest and even slays of political activists.

Globally, in its 2021 report, AI lamented that the year “was largely a story of betrayal and hypocrisy in the corridors of power.”

It said that promises to build back better after the COVID-19 pandemic appeared more as lip service, “with some governments redoubling their exploitation of the pandemic to bolster their own position.”

The cause committed to human rights continues more than ever as AI marks its anniversary this week.

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Diversity matters… much more so these days when two events are being marked which have a great impact in our community, national, regional and global existence.

These events are the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, which was observed last Saturday, May 21, and International Day of Biological Diversity — on Sunday, May 22.

The United Nation, in emphasizing the need to protect biological diversity, pointed out that one million animal and plant species are now being threatened with extinction.

At the same time, UN said that three quarters of the land based environment and about 6 percent of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human action.

UN further predicted the current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystem will undermine progress toward 80 percent of the assessed targets of many Sustainable Development Goals.

The May 22 observance focuses on the theme, “Building a Shared Future for All Life”.

The theme calls on people “to re-examine their relationship to the natural world.”

UN reiterated that despite technological advances, people are still “dependent on a healthy and vibrant ecosystem for our water, food, medicine, clothes, fuel, shelter and energy needs.”

The theme is anchored within the context of the current observance of the UN Decade of Restoration which emphasizes that “biodiversity is the answer to several sustainable development challenges.” It conveys the idea that biodiversity “is the foundation which we can build back better.”

Further underscoring the importance of the event, UN said that “when biodiversity has a problem, humanity, too, has a problem.”

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The May 21st World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development is themed, “Protecting the diversity of Cultural Expressions Is More Important than Ever”.

The day highlights the richness of global cultures and underscores the vital role of inter-cultural dialogue for achieving peace and sustainable development.

The cultural and creative sector have been affected by the pandemic with its intrinsic value of generating cohesion proven strong and resilient.

Respect of diversity — in persuasions, beliefs, opinions, way of life and of human rights as well as of ecological balance — must matter in a civilized and free society for peace, development and humane survival to prosper.

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And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things. But when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination. (Jeremiah 2:7) – NWI