Picture of Human Rights Day protest in Mannar courtesy TamilGuardian

Yesterday (December 10) was Human Rights Day. The theme this year, according to the UN was ‘Our Rights, Our Freedoms. Always.’

Since human rights covers many different fields and issues, Groundviews decided to facilitate a discussion between different organisations and individuals, anchored to the global theme.

Using the hashtag #HRDaySL, we asked people to tell us what freedom meant to them. Organisations such as Verite Research, the Women and Media Collective, Equal Ground, the Centre for Poverty Analysis (CEPA) and One Billion Rising Sri Lanka all contributed to the conversation.

Topics raised included the right to access public space, hate speech, migrant rights, the right to economic mobility, equal political representation, rape and domestic violence, the issues faced by female headed households and LGBTIQ rights.

Current topics discussed included the death sentence by stoning of the domestic worker in Saudi Arabia:

The recent Prevention of Domestic Violence Act was also discussed

Sister paper Vikalpa called attention to a hunger strike in Jaffna:

There was cause for celebration as it was announced that Sri Lanka had signed an International Convention on enforced disappearances:

Others were more cynical about Sri Lanka’s situation:

The #HRDaySL twitter campaign highlighted the diversity of opinion on what constitutes freedom. Furthermore, though there was debate around its relative merits, it was an encouraging sign that Sri Lanka signed an International Convention making enforced disappearances a ‘crime against humanity’ – an important step forward as the country transitions towards peace. However, yesterday’s conversation on social media made it clear that there is a long way to go before Sri Lanka’s citizens can truly call themselves free.