Transforming a Culture With Human Rights Education

Augustine in the blue Youth for Human Rights T-shirt at an event in his province in Papua New Guinea

Scientology-supported human rights campaign educates people on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

​​​This weekend, Scientologists around the world  learned of a Papua New Guinea human rights activist who is transforming his country through the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

His story was featured at a mid-year briefing  aboard the Freewinds ​religious retreat that covered the accomplishments of International Association of Scientologists-supported humanitarian campaigns. That event was screened at every Scientology Church internationally this week. 

The name of this activist is Augustine and he was the victim of unprovoked police brutality in 2013 that was so severe, it took ten weeks for him to recover from his broken jaw. Although he pressed charges, the officers who assaulted him were never called to account for the harm they inflicted.

Overcoming his urge for revenge, he decided to do something effective to reform the system.

He researched the problem on the Internet, found the United for Human Rights website and ordered the campaign’s educational materials, not really believing that they would be sent free of charge to a village nearly halfway around the world. But they were. And by studying them, Augustine gained a deep appreciation for human rights and the need to raise awareness of these rights in his country.

He met with his village elders and used the materials to introduce them to the subject. They too grasped the importance of raising awareness of these rights and encouraged him to teach human rights to the entire village and surrounding areas.

Word spread quickly and more than a thousand traveled to his village to attend Augustine’s presentation of the United for Human Rights materials.  Through the many examples he gave of the 30 rights of the UDHR he brought those attending to understand each article and how it relates to their lives.

Next, he traveled to Mendi, the provincial capital, where he introduced the program to government and community leaders and school principals. More than 2,500 people joined him in a  human rights march to the town center, where Augustine delivered a series of lectures to raise awareness of the 30 articles of the UN document.

At each presentation he had those attending sign a petition, calling on the government to implement the 30 articles of the UDHR and to mandate human rights education in the province schools.

Discovering that bullying has been a growing problem, at the end of his lessons in schools he had students pledge that they will not bully and they will protect and defend the rights of fellow pupils.

From his own experience, he knew that if he did not get the police on board, the effects of his campaign would be short lived. So he presented the petitions he’d collected to the provincial police department. 

Impressed with the public support for his campaign, senior officers requested a human rights seminar for the whole department. They also apologized to Augustine for what he had suffered at the hands of the police and created an official partnership with United for Human Rights to train every officer in the Southern Highland Province on human rights.

The Church of Scientology supports United for Human Rights and its sister organization for young people, Youth for Human Rights International. Scientologists on six continents engage in collaborative efforts with government agencies and nongovernmental organizations to bring about broad-scale awareness and implementation of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world's premier human rights document.



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