Amnesty International Canada introduced Secretary General Robert Alexander Neve at the University of Lethbridge on Oct. 2 to alert Canadians on human rights issues.
Neve spoke about economic, and national insecurities in an effort to not lose sight of human rights, and freedoms.
Neve is a human rights activist, and has been a member of Amnesty International Canada since the mid-1980s. Neve was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada on Dec. 28, 2007 in honor of his human rights work.
Neve says there is growing insecurity in the national and global economy, striking insecurity into the lives of women, children and men who’s lives are striken with fear, hunger, violence, illness and a rising poverty level.
“Resilient, remarkable and courageous individuals who face a battering war, famine, aids, torture and so many other wrongs, day in and day out”, says Neve
An economic boom in China means more luxuries for the middle class and more business contracts for Canadians while political dissidents languish in jail and ethnic and religious minorities in Tibet claim increasing debt levels and a climbing human death toll.
“Here in Canada, we have only just started to be woken up to a shocking and un-told human rights tragedy. More than a decade of marginal discriminations that have claimed the lives of an un-told number of first nations women and girls across the country”, says Neve.
“We are faced with an on-going, in-excusable failure in this world by our leaders, business elites, spiritual leaders, and yes, even ourselves to recognize that at the very heart of all those unforgivable wrongs, lies human rights.”
Canadians are living in a world of exception when it comes to human rights. Your human rights are protected until it’s too expensive or inconvenient to do so. Human rights are protected so long as commercial interests don’t lie elsewhere or if votes are needed or when it doesn’t seem to be worth the effort.
“We’ll protect your human rights unless you’re indigenous and living in oil rich lands or your religious, political views or ethnicity is different. This Is what lies at the heart of the insecurities of the this world”, says Neve.
Since Sept. 11, Canadians and people around the world have been told that human rights stands in the way of achieving national security and that to be truly safe, we may just have to give up on those sacred human rights.
Those concerned about human rights have to make the case as to why human rights still matter which Neve says needs to be approached from the other side as this way of thinking will only make the situation worse.
60 years ago, this world was emerging from the horror of WW II, reeling with the growing understanding of the deep rooted evil and struggling with healing away those six years of bloodshed which prompted concern and the creation of the United Nations.
“When we first assembled Amnesty International with-in the still very newly established UN, people around the world proclaimed the declaration of human rights the greatest passage in history”, says Neve.
“The people knew that if we delayed or give up on the notion of human rights, that it would only get worse.” “It’s up to every single person in this world to make a difference and create a world of equality.”
The world is now facing that same reality and to give up the fight for human rights would mean further momentum towards fear mongering, putting people all over the world in an economic and nationally insecure bubble. Just waiting for a needle to burst our bubble, leading to widespread chaos.