Foremost human rights organisation, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), is marking its 30 years of resilient commitment to the defence and protection of human rights.

The celebrations began on Thursday with an event at CitiHeights Hotel, 6 Sheraton Link Road, Opebi, Ikeja, Lagos, themed 'Chronicling the Struggle and Identifying the Way Forward'. The event will feature lectures, book launch, a documentary, etc.

"The CDHR 30th Anniversary celebration is to commemorate the founding of the organisation, commemorate our founding members and other comrades who have passed on during the struggle and at other times, to reflect on our efforts, and reaffirm our definite commitment to the defence of Human Rights," said Comrade (Barr) Ekine Peter Henry, the National Publicity Secretary of CDHR, in a statement obtained by SaharaReporters.

"CDHR has played very crucial roles in ensuring the end of military rule in Nigeria and the enthronement of democratic governance, even though democracy is still in its nascent stage in Nigeria. CDHR had fought against all forms of rights abuses and has remained very vocal in condemnation of all tendencies of discrimination, abuse of the rule of law and disobedience of court orders.

"Since its inception in April, 1989, during the repressive regimes of the military juntas, CDHR has grown in membership and expanded in Branches and Units across the country. CDHR has remained committed and provided invaluable support to myriad of citizens and all persons in the defence and protection of their rights at all times and in all parts of the country, even outside the country.

Henry said after three decades, the core concepts of freedom and fundamental liberties have remained as important as ever.

"We are thrilled that over the past 30 years we have supported all manners of persons, whose rights have been violated or were likely to be violated, and who had called on us or we got aware of their situations," he said.

"While CDHR has continuously and reliably provided needed solutions and legal aid (probono services or free legal representation) to deserving individuals, in recent years CDHR has broadened its scope to focus on mass enlightenment, advocacy, and human rights education as strategies that address the challenge of lack of sufficient awareness and knowledge on the issues of Human Rights. 

"With these approaches, and the goal of improving the Human Rights situation providing support for citizens and all persons, as well as equipping them to be able to defend, protect and enforce their rights, CDHR is reinventing a sane society where the rights of humans will be respected, where life will be valued but not worthless, where the welfare and security of citizens will truly become the primary concern of government and where citizens will have the opportunity to exploit their resources and maximise their economic potentials."

Looking to the future, Ekine said: "As a collective, we will continue to press for absolute respect for human rights; we will resist any individual or state agent, any government or official and any policy or legal framework that seeks to or attempts to infringe on the rights of Nigerians anywhere.

"Although the focus of the Rights Movement has largely been on the aspects of freedom and liberty (the civil and political rights) the CDHR in identifying the way forward is shifting the focus to economic and social rights of citizens; employment, economic opportunities, education, health, housing, safe water, clean environment, etc. In the end, it's all about having the freedom to live the free life nature has endowed and bestowed on all humans for being created equal; that is what we are aspiring to give and make a social commitment to Nigerians."

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