Today Amnesty International Celebrates its 50th Birthday which is a significant milestone for individuals and organizations around the world who have fought their own battles for half a century to ensure the rights of individuals are protected!
Amnesty International began with one person and an idea — to protect the basic dignity and human rights of those imprisoned for their beliefs. Based on a similar scenario, the seeds were sown here in Fiji in the early 1990’s which saw the birth of the Citizens Constitutional Forum in 1993.
It was through the visit to Fiji by the late Martin Ennals of International Alert when concerned citizens of Fiji took it upon themselves to interest the churches in sponsoring peace-building dialogue across religious and ethnic divisions, and began to hold national consultations on constitutional matters.
Martin Ennals (1927 – October 5, 1991) was a British human rights activist who served as the Secretary-General of Amnesty International, between 1968 and 1980. The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, created in 1993, is granted annually to someone who has demonstrated an exceptional record of combating human rights violations by courageous means and is in need of protection.
This has been the inspiration which has seen the CCF steer a path through Fiji’s coups of 2000 – 2001, again in 2006, and continues its work for civic and constitutional education, dialogue and reconciliation.
CCF Chief Executive Officer Reverend Akuila Yabaki says these challenges must be overcome and we need to keep the dialogue open. “The CCF is making every effort to remain critically engaged with government at various levels to ensure human rights principles are upheld and the state remains true to its word of moving towards democratic elections by 2014.”
“ Open dialogue is the only way to overcome these challenges and is vital to continue the work which started 50 years ago in protecting the basic dignity and human rights of all human beings.”