05/02/2011, 00.00
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Atheist praises John Paul II on human rights and love for one’s enemy

by Lenin Raghuvanshi
Human rights activist Lenin Raghuvanshi speaks to AsiaNews about the teachings of the Polish-born pope on human rights, a day after the latter’s beatification. Together with Mother Teresa, he showed how poverty is a form of violence.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – “[L]ove for one’s enemy and personal sacrifice” are John Paul’s greatest teachings, said human rights activist Lenin Raghuvanshi. An avowed atheist, Raghuvanshi said that John Paul II, who became a Blessed yesterday, transformed international diplomacy through his commitment to human rights. Raghuvanshi, director of the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), received numerous awards, including the 2010 Weimar Human Rights Award and the 2007Gwangju Prize for Human Rights.

The new Blessed John Paul II was an icon of the 20th century and a defender of human rights. His legacy to the world includes two fundamental teachings, namely love for one’s enemy and personal sacrifice. The Polish-born pope was an extraordinary man, whose life and example radically changed diplomacy and the way we perceive, defend and promote human rights.

For the first time in history, John Paul II spoke about the deep values of Christ, which are compassion, forgiveness and peace, on the international scene.

I remember his historic trip to Cuba in 1998. In that visit, the pope showed world leaders that no human being, even an enemy, ought to be isolated, that it is possible to engage a dialogue with countries whose principles and ideology are different.

His Holiness strengthened democracy, stressed the importance of individual ideas and transformed diplomacy.

John Paul II also showed how poverty is in itself a violation of human rights, how it is part of  structural violence. This violence is part of a dehumanising system that belittles the value of the poorest and marginalised segments of society.

Along with Mother Teresa, the pope said that everyone has a right to human dignity. For us human rights defenders, this is the greatest teaching John Paul II left us.

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to the article)

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