In recent years, there has been a concerning trend of using human rights defenders as scapegoats by certain groups in power. This tactic is harmful and detrimental to our society as it diverts attention from the real problems that need addressing. It is crucial to understand how this tactic is employed and who is most susceptible to its effects.
This manipulative strategy becomes particularly insidious in communities with limited access to education, such as refugee and asylum seeker populations. By actively playing both sides of the fence in my research, I have seen how groups in power pit people against each other. For example, these groups deflect attention away from pressing issues like housing crises, the need for comprehensive gun-control policies, or the lack of accountability within law enforcement. They also use human rights defenders as a convenient target to evade responsibility for their own actions and shortcomings. Such tactics not only distract from the real underlying problems but also demonize vulnerable individuals who are often already marginalized and discriminated against.
Another tactic employed by the in-group is the use of their positional power to depict human rights defenders as threatening and untrustworthy. This not only harms the defenders themselves but also exposes them to increased violence, harassment, and discrimination, all under the guise of protecting the interests of the group.
So, what can be done to counteract this harmful tactic? The first step is recognizing when it is happening. It is essential to be vigilant and critically evaluate the messages and narratives presented by the in-group, even if they offer attractive incentives for participating in harming human rights defenders in your environment. It is crucial to question who truly bears responsibility for the problems being presented. Often, it is within the in-group itself, as the out-group often lacks the power and influence needed to effect meaningful societal change.
We should resist the temptation to turn on one another. Instead, we all must question both sides and consider the goals of each party involved. This allows for a more comprehensive understanding of the situation and reveals any missing puzzle pieces.
In conclusion, the practice of using human rights defenders as scapegoats by the in-group is damaging and undermines the fabric of our society. To combat this destructive tactic, it is essential for us to be critical, vigilant, and engage in open dialogue. By doing so, we can work towards building a more just and equitable society for everyone, where the true concerns at hand are addressed rather than obscured by divisive scapegoating.