Podgorica, 10 December 2013
Do we all share equal rights? Well, according to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights – we do. However, in everyday life, not all people can exercise human rights equally. In order to illustrate that discrepancy, the UN System in Montenegro organised a performance “Power Walk” at the main square in Podgorica to mark 10 December, the International Human rights Day.
“Human Rights protection is at the very core of UN System’s work in Montenegro. This year we decided to do something different and unconventional to mark the International Human Rights Day. We decided to organise the Powerwalk, an exercise which clearly illustrates discrepancies in ability of people with various backgrounds to achieve human rights,” said UN Resident Coordinator Rastislav Vrbensky on the beginning of the exercise which gathered prominent individuals and officials from the Government, diplomatic representatives, students, musicians, representatives of media and NGO activists.
Each participant of the performance was given one of predefined roles: refugee, Government official, unemployed woman from the rural region, minority group representative, asylum seeker, NGO representative, disabled person, etc. Participants were lined up at the beginning to symbolize equality guaranteed by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. During the exercise they were asked to step forward only if, from their roles, they could give positive answer to a number of questions which followed, such as "I can express my opinion and influence decisions in my family", "I cannot afford to pay for private health care", or “I have a mobile phone”. By the end of the exercise, after 20 questions, some participants remained in the background, some were in the middle, while some of them advanced to the very front. The diversity of positions of various profiles clearly indicated differences in access to human rights of different members of the society.
Minister of Human and Minority Rights, Suad Numanović who had a role of a HIV positive person found himself at the middle. „I have made only half of all possible steps, and I think it represents the real life. Montenegro has good legislation, but we need to influence raising awareness on the importance of human rights.”
„My progress was limited, especially when the statements were related to finance“, said Aleksandar Zeković from the NGO Police Control Council, who had a role of a nurse.
“As a Minister of Finance, I advanced to the very front, making all the steps. I think that, in reality, those ones in front positions should turn back towards those left behind”, said Dawn Adie-Baird representative of the EU Delegation in Montenegro. Tea Gorjanc Prelević, Director of the NGO Human Rights Action, who had a role of single unemployed mother of two children, stated that she made only few steps. ”I am sure that social benefits in our country do not guarantee survival. That must be changed. We need more solidarity”, said she.
A Syrian boy who seeks for asylum, a role played by Indu Mohandas, the UNHCR Representative in Montenegro, was left at the very background, not making any step forward.
Noting that Montenegro is progressing in the field of human rights, participants underlined at the end that such progress must be continuous, stressing out that all people have capacities to fight for human rights, as for something that is immanent to all human being, without exception.