The following is Dr. Begna F. Dugassa’s Opening Speech made on the 2013 fundraising event for the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA).
Pastor Shamsadin Abdo Boru, the chairman of the Board of the Human Rights League of the Horn of Africa (HRLHA), could not attend this fundraising event. Before I prepared my opening speech I consulted Pastor Boru. I have incorporated his view in my speech.
Dear elders, friends of HRLHA, and all of our guests, welcome to this fundraising event. We are delighted to have you here in this great event. I know many of you have traveled long distances and left your busy schedules to attend this event. Your efforts remind us how important human rights work is for all of us. The principles of human rights are based on respect for human dignity. Respect for human rights and dignity can create peace, stability and harmony in our society. Human rights are something that we all cherish. As you deeply know, knowledge is power. If we know what constitutes human rights, we can stand and defend it.
Today, we the people from the Horn of Africa are entering a new era. We are building and articulating ideas and ideologies that promote human rights and social justice. We are promoting individuals rights and setting guiding principles where the safety, security and dignity of all people are respected. We are promoting collective rights (the rights of people to self-determination) where every social group and their ways of life are respected. At the same time we know that there are individuals and groups who are trying to stop the aspirations of people for change. As the saying goes, “ideas have legs“, they can walk and run- even more, “they have wings” they can fly and when ideas and ideologies that are inclusive, democratic and that promote social justice start it is impossible to stop. Promoting ideas and ideologies about social justice and transmitting informing about human rights facilitates knowledge construction on human rights. Knowledge changes the way we think. Changes in our thinking promote social transformation.