Human Rights Still a Dream for Many

December 12, 2013 Updated: December 11, 2013

In many countries around the world, groups of people are imprisoned, tortured, and killed for what they believe. That was theme of a conference on Parliament Hill Monday to mark Human Rights Day on Dec. 10.

People from over a dozen groups joined an information session hosted by Tim Uppal, the Minister of State for Multiculturalism, and put on by Rev. Majed El Shafie, president and founder of One Free World International.

In a series of short presentations, groups ranging from the Canadian Coptic Centre to the Movement for Democracy in China laid out the unsettling realities in many countries where human rights remain an elusive dream for many.

The discussions noted the persecution of Christians in Pakistan, Coptics in Egypt, and representatives of many oppressed groups in China.

Representatives from China’s democracy movement, Tibetans, Falun Gong, and Uyghurs comprised much of the discussion. 

Poster boards detailing those abuses crowded the walls and available tables, showing sometimes unsettling photos of the realities faced in many countries. One table held a photo of Nelson Mandela and a vase of flowers. Participants took a moment at the end of the session to stand in silence in his honour. 

On Human Rights Day, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird also noted Mandela’s sacrifice, calling him one of the last century’s greatest champions of human rights. 

Baird said Canada is actively promoting human rights abroad.

“Freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law are core Canadian values that this government is proud to uphold and celebrate. It is our duty to defend the rights of the oppressed and give voice to the voiceless.”