Building Human Rights Consciousness - PUCL Workshops

Dec 26, 2023
By PUCL-Tamil Nadu, PUCL-Karnataka

PUCL organized experiential workshops in Coimbatore and Bangalore, inviting young activists to reflect on their role in the human rights movement. This is the first of many initiatives of PUCL, to engage youth in a process of reflection and learning about the foundational values of the Indian Constitution, and the human rights movement at large.

With the help of PUCL – Tamil Nadu and PUCL – Karnataka, both workshops were attended by a diverse group of participants including lawyers, law students, human rights activists, environmental rights activists, Dalit rights activists, queer rights activists, members of NGOs and activists for the rights of religious minorities.

Facilitated by Dr. V. Suresh, the workshops aimed to create a space where participants could be authentic to themselves and reflect on the individual struggles they face. The workshop also aimed to enable a process of learning, in which participants were engaged with the history of the civil liberties movement in India and draw inspiration from several stories ranging from the work of KG Kannabiran to the story of the people’s movement, Kashtakari Sanghatana.

The workshops were planned to be based on games, activities, reflections and stories, as opposed to being lecture-based. The design of the workshop was based on ways of learning formulated by Paulo Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed. The objective was to ensure that as activists, in our engagement with systems and structures – social, cultural and political, we stay aware and connected with ourselves, our dilemmas and our struggles. It is designed to encourage some unlearning before learning; deconstruction before construction. Younger activists were urged to share and work through feelings of cynicism, helplessness and alienation, and reflect on their role in various social movements.

The workshop also helped initiate learning about the founding values of the Indian Constitution and various realities of different social groups. While PUCL’s national unit hopes to conduct more such workshops in other states, PUCL-K and PUCL-TN have begun to follow it up with other events.

PUCL Bangalore is working on conducting more courses to empower young activists to learn about the law and tools of human rights activism. PUCL-Coimbatore District Unit organised an online discussion to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the UDHR as a part of events taking place in the week, in which the participants of the workshop presented on the UDHR and the relevance of the human rights movement to Tamil Nadu and Forest and Adivasi rights.