Do Human Rights Exist?
By Abdul Samad Haidari
Perhaps, human beings are all born free, with equal rights and dignity. We are bestowed with reason and conscience to accept and respect each other. We should act towards one another with compassion and in a spirit of brotherhood because human rights are the very foundation of modern human rights activism and promotion of mutual respect and compassion. Today, human rights are not just a moral attitude but also an ideal recognized by international law and encouraged by a global movement. Yet, the history stands as a silent observer to the unpleasant violation of human rights and fundamental freedom in the world. They keep silence over the mass killings of the innocent as if they have no interest in protecting the lives that they otherwise claim are very important and that they are to protect the rights and lives of individuals.
Time and again, our conscience has been infuriated by disgusting acts of brutality committed by individuals and groups in the world living under the name of particular religion or tribe. There is the continued violence in Pakistan, chaos in Afghanistan, uncertainty in the Middle East and fear of terrorist attacks in every city and town of us. Thus, it is not unusual for the unprivileged to be denied justice, social, cultural and economic rights, which continue to be violated with each passing day. It all makes one wonder whether human rights really matter, do they even exist and is there any humanitarian organization that is acting to protect the human rights? Does anyone really care after all inhuman acts of violence, brutality that continues to be part of our history and current living circumstances in the world?
It is easy to say no to the continuous and most brutal killing of individuals around the world as human rights seem to have simply become an idealist concept for majority of the people in the world. It is a vision that has inspired international laws and organizations but largely remained unrealized phenomenon. Take for instance the recent deadly attacks in capital Kabul that killed dozens of innocent people and left more than 30 people injured.
We continue to be haunted by the images of frail bodies and pleading eyes of victims starved, beaten and tortured. The pledges to prevent such terrible acts against humanity remain hypocritical, ineffective and lacking political commitment as perpetrators are rarely punished and the lack of accountability is allowing a vicious cycle to set in with ease. Culprits are always supported by our political hypocrites for their protection by creating war, violence, horror and disorder among the nation. The horrible deaths and tales of horror become more disturbing with each new conflict and wave of hatred.
Adding so, the violation of human rights is not only defined by the magnitude of killings and tortures alone but the denial to a decent existence and respect for human life. In many countries, people survive under deplorable living conditions and an estimated 250 million children around the world are working in various jobs, frequently under hazardous conditions. For instance, the children in Afghanistan are the clear example of all victims of violence and abuse. The children have increasingly been used for terrorist and suicide attacks. The Taliban and other insurgent groups have been recruiting these street children to create war and horror among the nations in the whole world, not only in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Today’s religious persecution, repression and denial of access to rule of law are all cumulatively the violation of human rights in a small, medium or large scale. There is an acknowledgement of Universal Human Rights as a righteous vision, but the continuous violation of its principles has left many to wonder whether it is simply a hypothetical concept confined to international statutes.
In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It recognized the need to promote and encourage respect for Human Rights and fundamental freedoms of all people but with particular focus on most marginalized and excluded people in the world. The Declaration is a testament of a commitment to the basic principles of Human Rights. But as the statues are voluntary, governments and the international community are not bound to adhere to the principles of international law. However, from the English Bill of Rights in 1689 to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the struggle continues for dignity and civil liberties for all human beings, yet the crimes against human rights continue with impunity and no mercy.
Various International organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Free the Slaves, Action Aid International and Save the Children, to name a few, have become global movements that strive to keep alive the vision for a world where human dignity has a value and where respect for human rights is not a choice but a necessity. They have passed worst ever challenges in mobilizing the people to be self-reliant in the fight to stand for their rights.
Where there is a failure, there is also a success. So far, both national and international organizations after the fall of the Taliban have brought tremendous success in social and education levels. Most of them are the promising step forward in bringing to justice war criminals and crimes against humanity, highlighting the challenges faced by the poor and most excluded communities to state nations of the world. Enabling them claim their rights and ask their government authorities to include them in political and social affairs of their country. These are just some of the successes that renew and strengthen our belief in Human Rights as a conscientious obligation of all nations for change and betterment.
The success of Human Rights lies in the effectiveness of global civil society to be mobilized in voicing their concerns and exerting pressure to end crimes against humanity. Local and international organizations play best affective role in this regard. They must be supported and protected in their fight against poverty, injustice and human protection. They are enabling the people to enforce their governments to be held accountable for their citizens to ensure that the rule of law is applied impartially. There have been considerable obstacles in the journey for human rights and human protection, but we must not give up or give in but stay firmly on course for there is no other way, humanity is the only way to our existence.
It is not easy to strive for human rights and freedom in a world that is far from perfect and divided by changing times. Rather, it would in all honesty be unrealistic to think that there can be no violation of human rights and that every human being is capable of being peaceful. However, Human Rights begin with each one of us; we must ensure that human rights mean something more than just words in the pages of international law. There is an anonymous saying that best sums it up. There is enough bad in people to make law necessary, and enough good in people to make it worth implementing. So, the time, law and human protection are always yours, act now to start protecting the rights of individual, most excluded and voiceless people. No matter, where they belong to, what colors they own, what religion they belong to or what they worship.
Abdul Samad Haidari is a writer of the Daily Afghanistan Express.