[Reflection] MAKING HUMAN RIGHTS MORE THAN A VIRTUAL REALITY By Darwin Mendiola


Five days ago, we commemorated the International Human Rights Day. By just remembering the day was a reason enough to celebrate, but it also gave us something to think about.
In recent years, we have all witnessed  the transforming power of the internet in advancing human rights issues. It does not only become an avenue for freedom of expression and opinion. But it also provides a space for ordinary people to speak up and claim for their rights.
 
It gives the workers a place to show their plight from the brunt of unfair labor practices and job insecurity here and abroad. It gives a voice to the cry of farmers for genuine agrarian reforms. It exposes the detrimental ecological effect of mining on land and water resources and its induced massive displacement of farming communities.  It affords the women’s right of choice and access to reproductive health. It provides attention to the right for sexual orientation and gender identity against any forms of discrimination. It makes us more aware of the rights of children even those who are in conflict with the law. It condemns at the highest level the act of torture, enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings. It reproves inhumane and violent demolition of informal settlers. It provides a forum to demand for a guarantee of standard of living with adequate social services free from corporate greed.
 
HRONLINEPH.com was born out of this necessity.
 
While internet rights are already considered basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, yet they are increasingly at risk. Not only for the fact that people anywhere and everywhere who speak up against any forms of abuses, injustices and violence are often placed in danger.  Access to internet in some part of the globe remains censored or banned. Even in democratic countries like the Philippines, there are already attempts to infringe the right to privacy in communications that consequently threaten the enjoyment of the right to freedom of expression and opinion. The recent ruling of the Philippine Supreme Court upholding the decision to prevent two students of St. Theresa’s College in Cebu from graduating because of the sexy photos posted in their facebook account, creates that chilling effect.
 
While we do recognize that with every right, there is a corresponding responsibility, Though freedom requires self regulation, we must intelligently use the internet and technology to continuously inform, inspire and mobilize people to effect real change.
 
We must bear in mind that human rights are our birth right. The rights we have offline are the same rights we must have online.
 
Let us all work together to make human rights a reality.
internet right
Photo courtesy of www.slideshare.net
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