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Colm O'Gorman: 'I have resolved to work every day to prove that love can trump hate'

For those of us who care deeply about freedom and human rights, there has never been a more vital moment for activism, writes Colm O’Gorman.

Colm O'Gorman

TODAY, A MAN who campaigned on a constant refrain of misogyny and xenophobia will become the next President of the United States.

2016 was a disheartening year for human rights. A promised refugee deal didn’t materialise and human rights defenders continue to live under threat. Every day, women in Ireland have their human rights seriously violated by our restrictive abortion laws.

All around the world, the forces of division seem to be gathering momentum.

US election results are example of a deeply troubling trend

For human rights activists, who already find themselves embattled and “undesirable” in many countries, it raises the stakes immensely that the new President of one of the world’s most powerful nations puts forward a political platform that championed hate and threatened to disavow many basic human rights protections.

It is a bleak outlook. But the future does not have to be like this. In the face of these trends we must to resolve to do one thing.

We must resist

We must resist those who attack us for standing up for the human rights. We must resist the cheapening of media discourse which seems more concerned with ratings and online clicks than with truth, objectivity and considered analysis. We must resist hopelessness.

We must resist any voice, including our own, telling us that the abuse of the human rights is not our concern, not our battle to fight. We must resist the cynicism that says we will not prevail.

Fear and hate do not have to win the day – they can be a catalyst for change. The vast majority of people in Ireland and around the world support equality, dignity, freedom for all people – the core values underpinning human rights. Those values are far too precious to discard; their protection far too fragile to take for granted.

Together, we must challenge oppression by calling it out and by standing in solidarity with those whose human rights are threatened. Nothing has ever defeated hate as successfully as the humanity of ordinary people working together to face it down. This is Amnesty International’s mission. This is who we are.

Looking forward to 2017

I am more determined than ever to work every day to end human rights abuses. I have resolved not to give in to division and hatred. I will challenge those who pretend to be agents of change, but use their power to protect and embolden their own privilege.

I have resolved to work to expose the cynical manipulation of social need, by those who seek to foster hate and division in an effort to grab and hold power. I have resolved to listen, with care and attention, to those with whom I passionately disagree, and then to make my case.

I have resolved to work every day to prove that love can trump hate, that real unity is not about unifying sections of society in opposition to others, but about uniting us all in the recognition that together, we are always better.

The world has been there many times before

We have seen how divisive rhetoric leads down an ugly road – dissenting voices are criminalised and those who are disadvantaged bear the brunt of vicious harassment, discrimination and violence. Thanks to the determined struggle of human rights activism through the decades has made leaps forward, often in the face of great adversity.

We need to keep up the fight. We must resist. For those of us who care deeply about freedom and human rights, there has never been a more vital moment for activism. Every day, I see how see how people facing great adversity can come together and mobilise to bring about positive change rooted in human rights.

Join us as we stand for the protection of human rights around the world.

Colm O’Gorman is Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland.

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Colm O'Gorman

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