A Future for Rights?
As you probably know if you have been reading my posts over the past couple of weeks, I am a human rights activist and work for a human rights organization at the moment.
While I find my job fulfilling , however, I am also always concerned about the status of human rights in my country. in talking about the status of human rights, I am not only referring to the respect of human rights by the Egyptian government, I am also referring to the understanding of what human rights are to many Egyptians . Many Egyptians hold the view that human rights are a Western, even imperialist , conception that only serves to diminish state sovereignty by making it accountable to "foreign" institutions such as the United Nations. I do not blame them. For thirty years, many Egyptians have been subjected to state media that instills fraudulent notions about what it means to respect human rights, always painting any human rights institution as a body that seeks foreign, unwarranted intervention. By extension, any human rights defender is surely associated with these foreign bodies and , thus, should never be trusted.
In such an environment, it becomes very difficult for human rights activists, such as myself, to try and induce any change. I am still faced with situations in which I find that I have to defend myself for working in a human rights organization, dealing with not-so-innocent jokes about the NGO I am working for receiving illicit funds for surreptitious purposes. However, the situation is not very bleak. In the context of a post-revolution Egypt, sparked by events such as the brutal murder of Khaled Said at the hands of the Egyptian police, I see the potential for a country and a people that would gain more understanding of human rights. I always think, if only Egyptians realize that they revolted because they were ruled by a regime that consistently violated their rights. In order to instill that realization, I think the most pragmatic solution is human rights education. That is, starting a program with the goal of educating Egyptians as to what human rights are, why they matter, and the way in which a regime that does not respect them is one that would make life torturous.
Pulsewire and other online communities can certainly help me introduce change, as they will provide a platform through which human rights education can take place. At a time when ever more Egyptians are joining Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets, engaging with the public through these platforms is, I think, a sure way to bring about change.