“Give me liberty, or give me death!”

This is part of a speech by Patrick Henry, the leader of the American Revolution. In the past, people were divided into classes, and they made a revolution in search of freedom and rights.

The subjugated class rebelled against the dominion of the ruling class, and continued to make a long protest. As a result, they themselves newly set up the human rights. This is the background of the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and the United States Declaration of Independence.

Both the French Declaration and the United States Declaration of Independence emphasize on natural rights.

Natural rights refer to the rights given to all humans, simply for the sake of being human. Natural rights are transnational and universally inviolable, so even the state power cannot infringe on them.

However, when human rights were neglected during World War II, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created by the U.N. to stop the tragedy.

When COVID-19 hit the whole world, human rights issues arose again. Vulnerable people, who have trouble using electronic devices, are discriminated against in acquiring information. In addition, after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, racism toward Asians increased sharply.

According to “Stop AAPI Hate,” a non-profit organization that tracks racism against Asian Americans, about 4,533 related cases occurred from January to June last year. Hatred toward Asians was spread by the Establishment who called COVID-19 a China virus.

The reason why human rights issues arise is that people don’t know much about their rights. If you don’t know about your rights, it is difficult to take appropriate measures. In order to prevent human rights violations, we need to know what kind of rights we have and what discrimination is.

On December 22, 2021, ASEZ held ASEZ UN Human Rights Day Online Seminar 2021. The seminar was held at Chosun University to find out the causes of human right issues and its solutions. Twenty-eight students from Chosun University, Chosun College of Science & Technology, and Chosun Nursing College attended the event.

The event began with an interview with Professor Fernando Moros from the Department of Spanish Language & Literature at Chosun University. He said, “We will strive to practice what is mentioned in the Human Rights Declaration and hold human right activities with the students.”

Next, there was a presentation on the Human Rights Day. In 1948, the UN member states gathered to make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees various human rights, such as the right to read books and the right to be heard. However, it was destroyed by discrimination such as verbal abuse and hate speech, causing social problems.

As a solution, ASEZ suggested three things: having a deep conversation to understand each other, not being swayed by others, and finding our role. ASEZ explained that just as discrimination starts with small actions, so does protecting human rights.

After the presentation, they discussed about the role of colleges and college students in resolving human rights issues. Seo Yu-jeong (Chosun Nursing College) said, “Sometimes, we are not free to give opinions, so college must ensure our anonymity when we evaluate our professors.” “I once saw a disabled student struggling to enter the school gate which is something very natural for us,” said Jeong Chae-won (Chosun University). She added, “I hope that the college will accept the opinions of the students with disabilities so that the disabled and the non-disabled can coexist.”

Yang Yu-jin (Chosun University), the host said, “While preparing for the Human Rights Day Seminar, I could see that there are more human rights violations than I thought, and that every single person is important in preventing human right violations. I will take the lead in protecting human rights, and keep in mind that discrimination, hatred, and inequality begin with one person’s thoughts, words, and actions.”

Natural rights must not be infringed nor violated. However, human rights issues are occurring in unexpected places. This is why the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was made.

For a community where everyone can live together without discrimination, each of us needs to practice good deeds in community. In 2022, ASEZ will continue to take steps to protect human rights around the world so that all people can be treated equally.