By Air Commodore ® Khalid Iqbal
General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ on 10 December,1948, as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. Its first article reads: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”.
Declaration comprises of 30 articles. Through this declaration, the United Nations committed itself to the recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, through cornerstones of freedom, justice and peace in the world. This commitment stems from the UN Charter, which reaffirms the faith of the peoples of the world in fundamental human rights and in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life.
Member States have pledged themselves to strive for promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
This declaration represented a paradigm attitudinal shift in a post world war scenario, when the world was scarred by the Holocaust, divided by colonialism and wrecked by inequality. A charter setting out the commitment to the inherent dignity and equality of all human beings, regardless of colour, creed or origin, was indeed a bold and daring undertaking. Eradiation of colonialism and menace of apartheid are major contribution of this declaration. Nevertheless, exploitation of smaller and weaker countries and sub-state groups continues through neo-colonialism. Human rights are being violated in a varying degree in almost all countries of the world.
Almost simultaneously with the adoption of ‘Declaration’ Palestine and Kashmir disputes emerged as agenda items for the UN. Victors of the world war had decided to shift the Jews problem from Europe to Asia. Palestinians were expelled from their homeland to make place for the Jews. Princely state of Kashmir was invaded by Indian armed forces under the garb of a dubious letter of accession obtained under duress from the ruler of Kashmir. The people of Kashmir revolted; under the tremendous pressure caused by public uprising, India approached the UN for settling the issue. UNSC passed resolutions for holding a plebiscite in Kashmir; India continues to defy these resolutions and hold the Kashmiris in internment.
These two occurrences unleashed a protracted and persistent disregard of human rights in these areas of conflict. This blatant violation of the declaration continues with impunity.
Though human rights are perceived to be universal, their application has not materialised equally. Approach towards HR application and evaluation remains selective. Practitioners and commentators often take positions in line with political and ethno-centric biases. Recipients of Nobel peace awards are more often than not controversial personalities, awarded for kow-towing a particular (read western) ideological and political line.
Bogey of Human rights violation is raised quickly and vociferously whenever effectees are Jews, Christians or adherents of erstwhile capitalist ideologies. While handling such cases, a disproportionately high frenzy is created to bulldoze a quick consensus and effect a harsher action. Political dissidents of other competing ideologies are given larger than life size projection as human rights activists. In case of East Timor, a UN resolution was passed and implemented within months. Support accrued by the colour revolutions of Ukraine, Georgia, Lebanon and Czechoslovakia was much more and prompt than Bosnia Herzegovina, Chechnya, Kashmir, and Palestine etc.
There is a snowballing perception that the HR aspects of Kashmir and Palestine are being deliberately ignored by the UN and western powers. During his election campaign, candidate Obama raucously spoke of the need to resolve the Kashmir and Palestine disputes; nevertheless soon after entering the White House he succumbed to exigencies.
As of today, Gaza has been under an inhumane siege for more than 3 years, Israel has destroyed schools, public buildings, and thousands of homes. Non-Jewish population of Israel is subjected to segregation as well as economic and social discrimination. Their overall standards of living are lower than the Jews; their educational facilities are inferior and their economic prospects are poorer.
Human rights activists and pacifists from all over the world have been trying to help Gaza by breaking the siege; these activists have organized a number of land convoys and Sea Voyages. The whole world was in outrage during the piracy act of Israel in International waters, when Israeli commandos assaulted the Turkish ship ‘Mavi Marmara’ on 31 May 2010, and killed 9 peace activists. Their only “crime” was to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza, and break the siege, that the UN, with its silence, had been stamping with official indifference. Disregard and contempt for human rights in Palestine have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind. Nonetheless, such violations continue with impunity.
A recent WikiLeak described Indian Army engaged in gross Human rights violations in Indian Held part of Jammu and Kashmir while Lieutenant General HS Panag, a former GOC-in-Chief of the Northern Command of the Indian Army was equated with General Milosevic of Bosnia with regard to butchering Muslims through war crimes.
While speaking at Kashmir Conference recently held in British Parliament, Murtaza Shibli, Secretary General of World Kashmir Diaspora Alliance (WKDA) stated that the politics of rhetoric from all parties to the Kashmir conflict must give way to politics of consent for the settlement, on the basis of democratic rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Political and Human Rights. Shibli gave a brief catalogue of gross human rights violations and sufferings of people of Kashmir and said that massive campaign by human rights defenders has not made any difference, and abuse of human rights continues in IHK unabated. Killings, enforced disappearances and harassment of civilians continue unabated. There seems no immediate respite for the commoner in the near future, notwithstanding the attention Kashmir has managed to get at the international level. Unprecedented international media coverage of the upheaval has been met by Machiavellian silence in Western capitals, despite the expression of concern by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Every year, the IOK state human rights commission expresses its helplessness and accuses the executive of apathy and indifference. To this day, not a single recommendation of the commission has been implemented. On the contrary, a campaign for protection of the rights of dogs has made a huge difference. There are around two lakh dogs in Srinagar city alone. The municipal authorities have procured poison but are scared of using it, because an activist in New Delhi has threatened them of dire consequences.
India and Israel top the list of human rights violators and they continue committing atrocities on Kashmiris and Palestinians respectively, hence exposing the myth of ‘declaration’.
Air Cdre Khalid is Masters in Political Science along with War and Strategic Studies. He has also done Air War Course, Fellow of Air War College. Instructor’s Course. Senior Command & Staff course. Combat Commander’s Course. He has been a Directing Staff at various institutions of Pakistan Air Force. Presently he is a visitng faculty at:
- PAF air War College (Staff Wing &War Wing).
- School of Army Air Defence.
- Naval War College, Lahore.
- Quaid-i- Azam University (DSS Department).
- He is a regular contibutor to Opinion Maker and Member Board Of Advisors