Free to choose the future
Whatever your thoughts on the Scottish Independence Referendum – and whether you have chosen how you are going to vote, are undecided, or you are just over the whole thing, there is one thing, one incredible thing that we can all take away from the experience of choosing, yes choosing – freely without fear of reprisals, without fear of intimidation, of persecution, or torture or death – what we want for our future and the future of generations to come.
And it is just that – freedom. Freedom to choose, freedom to ask questions, freedom to challenge, to debate, to share our opinions. Freedom to self-determine, as a nation of individuals, what we believe is the best option for our country.
And whatever you might say about the last 18 months – that is an incredible thing. These are our rights as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and these have been embraced by the people of Scotland. Yes, there have been times when the actions of some have been irresponsible, when words have caused pain. But these have been the rare exceptions to a debate which has positively engaged people from all walks of life, from the length and breadth of Scotland (and beyond) as equals – every person eligible to vote through democratic process has an equal say in their future. Their opinion matters, their vote matters, their voice matters.
Every day we are painfully reminded of what happens when a people’s right to choose – right to freedom of expression, to disagree and challenge those who govern them – is denied. And brutally denied. Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, China, Palestine just to name a few countries in the world where people’s right to freedom of expression has been brutally opposed. Where hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost in defence of their human rights.
So, whatever happens on Thursday 18 September, whichever way you cast your vote, however you have chosen to engage in the debate on Scottish independence, the people of Scotland have shown the world that a decision of such significance can and must be made in a way which respects all the human rights of all people. And at the end of the day, that shouldn’t be extraordinary, it shouldn’t be held up as something that is incredible - it should be the norm.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.