Advocacy of human rights is a responsibility that stands up for those slighted and deprived of their rights; however, it is not an easy job with death threats and harassment of activists from the authority being commonplace, said Cedric Prakash, a human rights activist, in Mangalore on Tuesday.
The Ahmadabad-based activist who had come under immense scrutiny for questioning the role of the State Government during the 2002 Gujarat riots, said: “Powerful vested interests will try to harass the activist. But, one can’t fear authority, police or politicians.”
He was speaking at the “Samprathi -2012” a two-day national seminar on “Human Rights Advocacy: An Avenue for Social Change” at St. Aloysius College.
Mr. Prakash urged the audience, consisting social work students from across the district, to go beyond marks and transcend the syllabus prescribed. He advised the students to stay informed about laws and rights of the people, and must be ready to go into action and into the streets among the people protesting.
Research and documentation were crucial, he said citing the example of the “Vibrant Gujarat” campaign to buttress his point. “Many facts are fudged and lies put in.
The Chief Minister has taken credit for everything done in the decades before he came. When faced with campaigns and pieces of news like this, we must delve into this instead of blindly believing,” he said.
He lamented that many students of social work were absorbed into the corporate sector’s corporate social responsibility (CSR). “Students should ask themselves why they joined social work course in the first place. To draw huge salaries or to work for the people,” Mr. Prakash said.
Earlier, the seminar was inaugurated by Mohan Alva, chairman, Alva’s Education Foundation, who said it was “sad” to still have to fight for basic rights in the country. He spoke about the Koraga community and the Mansa community which still lived with malnutrition, illiteracy, and discrimination.
Lectures were delivered on child rights and labour issues, apart from paper presentations on advocacy in environment, subaltern groups, and child rights on the first day of the seminar.