Advocate Asim Sarode, human rights activist and a freelance journlaist talks about role of media advocacy in human rights intervention.
Netya: How would you define human right at this time?
Asim: According to me, it is a widespread but wrong belief that only government is responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights. In reality, human rights is the responsibility on all of us, without any exception. All of us living and working in the country have to ask ourselves what this responsibility means for me and my surroundings.
What is the role of the business community, political parties, NGOs, diplomats, teachers, the community, traditional leaders, professional associations, the media, the civil service, the development agencies, and the international community? Human rights are not only rights but also duties. But another aspect of this is generally people are not aware of their rights and because of this they also lag in their duties.
Netya: Do you believe that it is possible for everyone to enjoy the same basic rights?
Asim: Of course to an extent it is possible. If we see on the surface every human has the right to life, to bodily integrity, and to the means which are suitable for the proper development of life; these are primarily food, clothing, shelter, rest, medical care, and finally the necessary social services, these are the basic rights that everyone can and must have. .
But, at the same time the difference in the economic standard is giving way to a discriminative society and thus violating the rights.
Netya: From your perspective, what are the ways to engage media towards the human right violations?
Asim: As of now we are thinking on the ways to engage-an important word to remember- media. We'll be exploring many ways to engage the media.
The media, at least in our highly 'communicative' society, is one of the pillars of power. That's why we need to become skilled at engaging journalists and news editors in giant media houses, and alternative media or vernacular media alike. We need to be interested in engaging the media as not just another constituency with some influence, but because it is one of the essential levers of power and can be very effective if it wants to. The media is integral to civil society. It can make or break regimes. It can foster or undo a culture of respect for human rights.
Netya: In the context of media intervention in human rights violation what reforms do you think are required by the system? And to what extent it is important, the outreach of media to the common people in spreading awareness about human rights?
Asim: Oh, it has plenty to do. To change a mindset or system is not a one-day game. It is a gradual and steady process. Inclusion of human rights education in media should be there and people should be a part of it because mass media is a communicator of the public and reaches far. Finally, it should be possible for all the citizens to share as much as they can.
Netya: Words you would like to quote for those students who are looking at their future perspectives in media and want to fight against human rights violation and join the activism by studying a combination of either law or social work with journalism?
Asim: Social work is based on the ground realities. Social workers are the community workers as well as basic informers; they stick with the scientific assessment at grassroot level.
Netya: You have been doing a lot of work in what would you think that at what scale it will make a difference in society?
Asim: I have made several suggestions already about the duties of citizens, particularly in relation to human rights. In closing, however, I would like to add some comments about civil society. We need to look at human rights as a value and not merely as a subject to study or an issue to understand. We have to understand, accept and imbibe it in us just as we follow our religions. In today’s world Humanity must be our religion.
One needs to work at the realistic level with the eyes wide-open and with an attitude of looking at things optimistically. This is a field where your common sense must always be alive to let your argument come in the light.
“We need to look at human rights as a value and not merely as a subject to study or issue to understand. We have to understand, accept and imbibe in us as we follow our religions. In today’s world our religion must be Humanity.”