Welcome speech by the President of MALSA, Gregory Marimuthu, at the Valentine’s with Human Rights Forum on 14 February 2009, Bar Council.

The obvious interdependence between peoples of different continents, the rapid growth of population and increasing contact between peoples and governments are the fundamental reasons for the promotion of Human Rights. Equality enhanced would naturally increase security for human dignity. This is the hope we share in the pursuit of happiness and to avoid suffering, regardless of race, religion, sex or political status.

Human Rights is universal, indivisible, and undeniable. As free human beings we can use our unique intelligence to try to understand ourselves and our world. But if we are prevented from using our creative potential, we are deprived of one of the basic characteristics of a human being. It is very often the most gifted, dedicated and creative members of our society who become victims of human rights abuses. Hence the necessity for the younger generation to be more sensitive towards these issues and to develop in intellectual awareness, individually, and of a society as a whole.

It certainly is necessary to understand that as we demand civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights – that of what we cherish in pursuit of life itself – we should also be aware of our responsibilities. A parallel concept must be genuinely rooted within us, of the urge to help those in need as much as we demand the peace and happiness for ourselves. A universal obligation embedded within mankind is the development of love and compassion for others. It is the only way for creating a better and a more peaceful world. Such would be the key solution towards eliminating marginalisation, oppression, immense poverty, and all other sorts of injustice that are inflicted upon the vulnerable.

Force used to infringe Human Rights would only backfire by the undying hope and faith in the deeper human nature needs – which is to breathe the precious air of liberty. This cannot be stopped or broken.

The human spirit has proven for generations through many revolutions and civil wars that liberty and freedom is worth more than life itself, through love.

However, some governments still consider the fundamental human rights of its citizens an internal matter of the state. They do not accept that the fate of peoples in any country is the legitimate concern of the entire human family and that the claim of sovereignty is not a licence to mistreat one’s citizens. It is not only our right as members of the global human family to protest when our brothers and sisters are being treated brutally, but it is also our duty to do whatever we can to help them.

The rapid pace of globalisation, economic distress, dwindling natural resources and environmental crisis that threaten the very foundation of our existence on this planet are wake up calls for many, especially the younger generation that would soon be the future leaders of our country.

Human rights, environmental protection and great social and economic equality, are all inter-related, and must be cherished with a greater sense of universal responsibility. Such a responsibility must be shouldered upon a shared belief and hope of unity, between all races, religion, ideology and history.

No one truly benefits from causing harm to another being. Whatever immediate advantage is gained at the expense of someone else is short-lived. In the long run causing others misery and infringing upon their peace and happiness creates anxiety, fear and suspicion for oneself.

In light of this, we need to stand united in our views and fashion our responsibilities towards standing united in defending the need for Human Rights in our country. It is important to create an awareness and to play a role in promoting the importance of protecting our rights.

One reply on ““The human spirit has proven for generations through many revolutions and civil wars that liberty and freedom is worth more than life itself…”: Gregory Marimuthu”

  1. Mr. Marimuthu

    Your sentiments as expressed here are indeed noble and honourable. I do not mean to be patronissing or condescending of you. But throughout this speech of yours here I am left wondering what the term human rights really means. What the word freedom means, how much freedom a person is entitled to in a culturally diverse and somehwat periodically volatile society and how we as civilised societies are prepared to tolerate those freedoms (or accomodate these to our detriment).

    The “universal” concept of human rights you refer to are western liberal democracy defined to suit their own politically expedient, industrially developed and highly regulated environments to the exclusion of you or me unless we submit totally to their objectives. Regulated for the preservation of the status quo and the mainly white Christian well settled majorities who, in most instances constitute a tyranny of a majority in white settler countries from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and as an exception to that definition of settler nation the UK. Ask the Blacks aand Asians in these places
    what it means to be a citizen in each of these places.

    It was widely accepted in South Africa under Apartheid and Rhodesia under the Smith regieme that the exclusion of their black majorities ( in a so called democracy) from the benefits of these rights you call universal human rights was an acceptable for of conduct supported and condoned by the UN with the exception of China and the former Soviet Union in the security council.

    Because the definitions of human rights much like the equally vague and ill defined but popularly flaunted term ‘terrorist’ lacks universal definition, it is the western model that is popularly bandied and imposed as the benchmark of what constitutes human right. It is also embodied very much in the womens movement inviting criticism from a growing body of independent and perhaps anti western nations and justifiably so.

    Slavish adherence to foreign concepts are a disservice to the causes you promote. By all means push the wagon and make sure everyone realises that all human beings aspire to be equal. We are not equal. I would hate to be considered an equal to Joseph Stalin, George Bush Jnr, Idi Amin or Germaine Greer.

    I may aspire to be like Barack Obama, Jesus Christ and well maybe not so much like the Virgin Mary but like many of the other great achievers of their time, but thats human and thats aspirational and not a right as such.

    We must all be encouraged to find our own levels of self and to educate ourselves to a non material level before we can understand the concept of equality and what it means or what it is that the term rights mean.

    Was it Lord Acton who said with words to the effect: “I am free to swing my cane all around me, and that freedom ends at the tip of my neighbours nose”?

    Better still to ponder is this: A free and open society is an ongoing conflict interrupted periodically by compromises”. (Saul Alinsky)

    I understand though what it is many of you and your colleagues are aspiring to. It is something that your forefathers aspired to, fought for but achieved it to the exclusion of their white colonial masters. So too must you find that niche that is uniquely yours and not a regurgitation of someone elses philosophies and beliefs that are really a Trojan horse for furthering their objects at your expense. Negotiate and seek settlement.

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