Human rights are meant to be the rights of every single human being. Reflecting on the talks and experiences during our journey we wonder:
- Can you actually claim your rights when you don’t have sufficient financial means?
One of the organizations we visited during our journey was OPU (Organizace pro pomoc uprchlíkum = Organization for Aid to Refugees) in Prague. The mission of OPU is to assist asylum seekers in Czech Republic. To seek asylum from persecution was among the first-generation human rights proclaimed in 1948. Still, for asylum seekers it is very hard to claim their rights. Ms Pavla Dobrovolna, who works in ˝OPU˝ illustrated one common problem that asylum seekers face: language. Upon arrival they can’t speak Czech. Most of them don’t have any financial means to pay for language classes and the state is providing no help. Thus, they can’t really follow their legal cases or try to integrate into society. Language keeps them from having access to society. Also, the language problem leads to the problem of unemployment – and a vicious circle starts:
Without language skills – no work – without work – no money – without money – no language classes – without language skills – no work …
From our experience, many people in Europe think negatively about immigrants. They consider them thieves, poor and lower class. We say, they should really realize: It’s the system that keeps them ‘out’ in many cases.
And it needs people like the Ms Dobrovolna of OPU, who has a university education and is a Czech national, to give everyone the chance to access their rights and participate in society!
Antoher question that we discussed a lot and that inspired this postcard is:
- Are human rights in central Europe mainly a topic for highly educated specialists?
When visiting various places related to human rights in Europe, specialists in NGOs, political and educational institutions seemed so well informed, so active, so determined to fight for Human Rights. Stepping out of the buildings where these human rights activists were working and asking people on the street about human rights, the contrast was often stunning and worrying. Very often, we heard answers like: ‘I don’t have time to think about Human Rights. There are more important things in my life.’ Other people believed that human rights are important but still, they hardly had any knowledge about or personal attitude towards the topic.
We believe this should be different and this could be different. In Europe, we need much more education on human rights.
Neither in Europe nor anywhere else should human rights be a ‘rich men’s club’.