slavery

The movement to abolish slavery is in at the very roots of modern human rights. The work of the abolitionists continues to be a source of learning. Modern day slavery and the denial of equal rights to non-citizens are deeply linked.

A refugee journey out of endless war

The anonymous words below come from the reflections of a young person who arrived in Australia as a refugee.  She was when she wrote in Australian immigration detention.  Her words were submitted to the national inquiry currently being undertaken by Australian Human Rights Commission into children in immigration detention.  Links to national inquiry and her…

Belle

Humans are complex beings.  The movie “Belle” (director Amma Assante) explores human complexity, particularly as it manifests in everyday human relationships. The movie is set in the late eighteenth century at the height of the transatlantic slave trade.  Dido Elizabeth Belle (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw) is the central character of the movie.  She was born into…

Would you have me argue that all human beings are equal?

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was a remarkable worker for human rights.  Although he lived more than a century ago, his thoughts remain pressingly relevant. He began life as a slave, but winning his own freedom, he fought not only for abolition of slavery but also gave his support to other human rights causes, such as the emancipation of…

Bartolome de las Casas: An early human rights worker

Guatemalan girls in traditional dress

Bartolome de las Casas is one of those remarkable people in history who arose at the very beginning of the modern human rights movement.  A great humanitarian;  he learnt human rights in his encounter with the people of Central and South America during the sixteenth century European invasion of the Americas.  He used his office as Dominican…

What ended chattel slavery in the British Empire?

The question of how legal chattel slavery in the British Empire came to an end is an important question to ask.  It is far from a historical curiosity.  The end of legal slavery in the British Empire potentially contains lessons on how the human rights abuses of our own time might be addressed.  Given the…