Monday, December 10, 2018
On December 10, 2018, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is also a good occasion to recall the 30th anniversary of the Federal Constitution, the most democratic that Brazil has ever written, promulgated on October 5, 1988 and is known as ‘Citizen Constitution’, because Brazil had just come out of a dictatorship regime and the new constitution established a presidential system with direct vote and extended the rights of workers.

70TH ANNIVERSARY
OF THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS:
Celebration and New Challenges

On December 10, 2018, we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This is also a good occasion to recall the 30th anniversary of the Federal Constitution, the most democratic that Brazil has ever written, promulgated on October 5, 1988 and is known as ‘Citizen Constitution’, because Brazil had just come out of a dictatorship regime and the new constitution established a presidential system with direct vote and extended the rights of workers.

These two documents that are entirely in favour of life, dignity and freedom, as well as other fundamental rights of all people, have been written at the cost of many struggles: lives were taken, families were broken and dreams interrupted. Thanks to these documents, and to the mobilization of social movements that monitored the commitments taken by the Brazilian State, the dignity of millions of people was raised, rights and duties were promoted, sufferings prevented and the foundations of a more democratic, just and equal society were set. We have indeed many achievements to celebrate but also many challenges to face.

In addition to the common practices of abuse and violation of rights, we see in the Brazilian society the resurgence of a scenario, discourses and practices that not only threaten but drain the contents of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Federal Constitution, a systematic withdrawal and suppression of rights, the exaltation of hatred and violence and the exclusion of minorities. This is clearly seen in the thoughts and actions of individuals and groups, including religious, who came to the country’s political and economic power in the last elections. The anniversary of these two documents is an occasion for celebration but the current scenario of violation calls us to resistance.

In this context, lay people and religious who make up the Comboni Human Rights Articulation (ACDH), through this statement, address you, your community, group or movement to share concerns and hopes.

The timeline teaches us that history is made up of cycles. In some of them the defence of life seems more challenging. In Brazil, for a short period, the working class has taken important steps to remove fundamental rights from the formal text and to provide some protections to the historically most marginalized, even without touching the comfort zone of the elite and its households. This ended up provoking the Brazilian elite, who showed what it has of worse and nefarious. Never in the history of democratic periods in this country has there been so much explicit contempt and disregard for human rights.

Achievements still under consolidation are seriously threatened, especially in the name of economic development. Traditional communities, such as indigenous and afro-descendants quilombolas, are among the groups depreciated in almost all pronouncements of the newly elected President.  The Brazilian Congress is distancing itself from any proposal that places public institutions at the service of the common good. The Judiciary, guardian and promoter of law and justice, in some of its practices leaves doubts as to its impartiality. Most religious leaders serve the interests of the political and economic elite in exchange for prestige, comfort and fame, usurping and misrepresenting the names “evangelical” and “Christian” and in the name of morals and family. They seem to ignore the religious, loving and ethical authority of Pope Francis and the Christian inspirations and values contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Federal Constitution.

In this disturbing scenario of dismantling rights, devastation and death, in which traditional media do a great disservice, we must connect our experiences, knowledge, struggles and utopias with those of other people and groups, so that, from north to south, from the countryside to the favelas, resistance may be propositional and advance towards the building of strategies in defence of life and other rights.

Like Jesus of Nazareth, we are convinced that it is necessary to put ourselves at the service of the marginalized and oppressed. We do not speak only of a charitable disposition, whose essence carries a great deal of inferiority to the other, but of the radical transformation of reality, through education and popular organization, which restore dignity to those persecuted or exploited.

We work in the perspective of the utopia of a society without subservience. Utopia! It is a word not much appreciated in the dictionary of the system of death perpetrated by savage capitalism, but alive to all people and collectives who persevere in building a society where the humanity of the peasant family, the employed or unemployed workers, the street people, the incarcerated population, the afro-descendant quilombola and indigenous communities, the abandoned children and adolescents of the black and peripheral youth, prevail over economic interests.

The Comboni Articulation of Human Rights (ACDH), particularly in this period of celebrations and organization of resistance, joins social and collective movements, both young and old, young people and women, in the struggle for the unconditional defence of life and rights and against all forms of oppression, hatred and violence. We say YES to life and rights and reaffirm our dream and commitment to a culture of peace and a more just, peaceful and egalitarian society.
São Paulo, December 10, 2018.

The Comboni Articulation of Human Rights is composed by:

Centro de Defesa da Vida e dos Direitos Humanos “Carmen Bascarán” (Açailândia-MA)

Centro de Defesa da Vida Herbert de Souza (Fortaleza-CE)

Movimento de Saúde Mental Comunitária Bom Jardim (Fortaleza-CE)

Centro de Defesa dos Direitos Humanos “Padre Franco Pellegrini” (Salvador-BA)

Centro de Defesa dos Direitos Humanos Dom Oscar Romero (Santa Rita-PB)

Associação de Apoio aos Assentamentos  Rurais e Comunidades Quilombolas – AACADE (PB)

Rede Justiça nos Trilhos (MA)

Centro de Defesa de Direitos Humanos de Sapopemba “Pablo Gonzales Olalla” (São Paulo-SP)

Centro de Defesa dos Direitos da Criança e Adolescente “Mônica Paião Trevisan” (São Paulo-SP)

Centro de Defesa dos Direitos Humanos da Serra (ES)

Centro de Migrações e Direitos Humanos (Boa Vista-RR)

Santuário Santa Cruz da Reconciliação (São Paulo-SP)