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K. Sarup: Human Rights Crisis And Human Rights Day

Human Rights Crisis And Human Rights Day


By Kamala Sarup

''The United Nations Organization has just reported numerous cases of violence against civilians, particularly sexual violence against women and girls, who are terrified to leave their villages. The situation continued to be critical. I have noted that ongoing violence in Chechnya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Colombia, Nepal and Indonesia not only continues to kill many thousands of innocent civilians, but disrupts the lives and livelihoods of millions more,'' Human Rights activist and journalist Krishna said.

Kadel further said "The continuing conflict in Nepal is the most serious human rights issue in Nepal. It noted the "genuine security problems faced by the government in Chechnya", but stressed that, "effective counterterrorism should be pursued within a framework that respects human rights and international humanitarian law."

"Some 50 years have elapsed since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948. This was the first time in history that a document considered to have universal value was adopted by an international organization. It was also the first time that human rights and fundamental freedoms were set forth in such detail. There was broad-based international support for the Declaration when it was adopted". Kadel said.

Even yesterday, Prime Minister Tony Blair's government said the railway bombing in Madrid, Spain, and the massacre of schoolchildren in Beslan, southern Russia were among the worst Human rights abuses. The government said the most worrying development had been the humanitarian crisis in the western Sudanese region of Darfur and said there had been no significant improvement in human rights in Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan and North Korea. "As atrocities such as those in Beslan, Madrid and Iraq over the last year have demonstrated, some of the worst attacks on basic human rights and freedoms in our world today are perpetrated by terrorists," said Straw. "States cannot protect human rights without fighting the threat from terrorism."

"Since Maoists war, tens of thousands of Nepali civilians have been killed or raped hundred of people have been forced to leave their homes. As you know, promotion and protection of human rights during conflict situation is a very difficult task. But we cannot shirk from our responsibility by saying we are under threat. We will have to continue to monitor the situation and give reports to the government on whatever we find". Krishna said.

Human rights need protection not only during times of peace, but doubly so during times of conflict. And the commission has a big role to play during such times.Maoists and to the government should respect humanitarian laws and desist from indiscriminate violence. As for the government, the Human Rights Accord was under its consideration but after the Maoists walked away after the talks last time, nothing much happened. Human Rights Organization have to raise the issue with the government. The government has re-affirmed its commitment to protecting human rights which is a good thing but we have to see.

"This conflict has resulted in many people being displaced, many murdered, many children being orphaned and many women becoming widows. Even if the conflict is resolved through dialogue, people will not be able to forget their pain and suffering easily. So we have to protect and promote human rights". Kadel said.

Even Sushil Pyakurel, member of the NHRC said "The Maoists must implement the conditions laid down in the guidelines and honor them by all means. It is high time the Maoists demonstrate who they are: political party or criminal gangs'.

Human Rights Crisis continue

Despite peace agreements signed in Abuja, Nigeria, in November, after which the focus of the international community turned back towards Iraq, fighting continues. The agreements were signed between the two main rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) which had demanded a greater share of the region's resources and the Sudanese government, which has been accused of backing the Janjaweed militia, or at least turning a blind eye to its infractions, in an attempt to intimidate the local population in this oil-rich area.

The violence today is between the government forces, the Janjaweed and the Popular Defence Forces and there are also reports of abductions of civilians by the SLM/A.

Despite recent steady progress in the peace process, major political and social tensions remain in Burundi as it tries to emerge from a decade of civil war, human rights violations are a cause of great concern and a strong international donor response is vital, according to a new United Nations report released today.

The United Nations emergency feeding agency said today that the security situation in western Sudan's Darfur region was deteriorating rapidly with 300,000 displaced people cut off from all aid following a rebel attack earlier this week in breach of ceasefire accords signed with the government.

For the second time in a week the United Nations refugee agency today expressed "extreme concern" over the fate of thousands of Iranian Kurds caught up in the fighting in central Iraq without access to regular food rations.

The United Nations refugee agency reported today voiced new concern over the situation in north western Colombia where indigenous communities are suffering as a result of clashes between armed groups and an ongoing blockade.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday called on all countries that have not yet done so to ratify or accede to a global treaty against chemical weapons.

He said in a message to the Ninth Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention delivered by Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the UN Office in Geneva.

"It is a source of encouragement that steady progress has been made in the destruction of declared chemical arsenals," he said. "Nevertheless, a great deal more remains to be done. I urge the concerned States to meet their obligations under the Convention, and call upon the international community to continue to support these efforts."

In a highly awaited report spawned by the deep divide over the war in Iraq, an international panel makes over 100 recommendations on how to deal with global threats in the 21st century including the use of preemptive strikes. The report by the 16-member panel, to be released on Thursday, also proposes how to expand the U.N. Security Council to reflect modern realities.

It identifies the threats facing the world today - including internal and external wars, poverty and social upheavals, failed states, weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and organized crime - and proposes ways to deal with them. It also defines terrorism, something the 191-member U.N. General Assembly has tried unsuccessfully to do for years, an official close to the panel said on condition of anonymity.

Amnesty International Media Director Mike Blakemore said:

"A growing number of people in China are standing up and demanding the basic rights that we in Europe take for granted. For doing so, they face arrest, torture and even death.

"The very least that the EU should do is to call on the Chinese authorities to release those imprisoned for peaceful human rights campaigning." The United Nations on Monday appealed for 164 million dollars (122 million euros) in aid next year for Somalia, where around one in five Somalis are in desperate need of assistance, according to a top UN official.

"About 1.4 million Somalis, out of a population a between seven and eight million, are in dire need of assistance," UN Humanitarian and Relief Affairs Coordinator Jan Egeland told journalists in Nairobi, a day after returning from a fact-finding mission in Somalia.

"The Ukrainian leadership has ignored human rights for a long time. They were declared but the authorities did nothing to put them into practice," Ms. Karpacheva told journalists recently.

According to her, Ukrainian citizens used their right of peaceful pickets and rallies for their opinion to be heard. "People proved that they were not only an object of manipulations but also a subject of history," she emphasized.

Jose Luis Diaz, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, declared to the press yesterday that there have also been various cases of military activity in which civilians have been caught up - one such case being the shelling of the village of Masteri, West Darfur, by government troops in response to an attack by rebel forces.

Since 2003, tens of thousands of civilians have been killed or raped by Janjaweed militia and 1.7 million people have been forced to leave their homes, making this, according to the official description by the UN, the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

A Geneva-based judges' body has asked India to help in improving Nepal's human rights situation.

"It is in India's own interests to have a stable neighbour to its north," said International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) secretary general Nicholas Howen, who is heading a three-member delegation that is on a visit here.

"As a democratic country where courts uphold the rule of law, India can have a very positive impact on the political situation here and help reduce political abuses which cause heightened political tension," Howen told IANS.

We have questions now what UN, Amnesty International or International organizations will do in case of major human rights violations like the Rwanda genocide, Cambodia genocide?

We Nepali people should not forget A top United Nations relief official yesterday urged the media to pay closer attention, where a major humanitarian crisis has been all but forgotten.

Mutual recrimination be avoided We have questions now what UN, Amnesty International or International organizations will do in case of major human rights violations like the Rwanda genocide, Cambodia genocide?

How can relations among the political parties be improved and how can mutual recrimination be avoided? How can the government and the different political parties increase their mutual understanding and respect for each other? How can we strengthen our commitments to reconciliation and peaceful coexistence? As our political systems are incapable and far too short-sighted to address the basic moral questions, which have significant impact on Nation's political stability and prosperity.

If our leaders fail to lead the moral crusade for justice and human dignity, if they fail to enunciate the essentially humane part of politics, the oppressed, the deprived, the humiliated, and the dispossessed will chosen to forget the humaneness of politics, but will use it for violence. If politics does not become part of the solution, it will motivate hate so trust and peaceful dialogue is essential at various levels. First, there must be dialogue among political leaders, equally important is dialogue among people, among leaders, among scholars, and among lay people.

Civic society should support democratic pluralistic society and peaceful political transition to democracy should increase opportunities for individuals and groups to interact politically with the government to achieve major political changes. Civil society means those individuals and organizations in a society which are independent of the government and which are able to exercise rights of free speech and association.

We may talk about physical peace but peace as a lifestyle is difficult to achieve for many reasons, both explicit and implicit, and that substantial homework has to be done before embarking on such a venture that might prove difficult to tread as we go down the line. We do not know the position of the political parties which have different attitudes and different ways of thinking according to their preferences and often whims. In our society people only talk about their rights and find themselves conscious about their position. They do not think in the larger interest of nation-building which is not an easy task. We do not think we have an important responsibility to our nation. If nation survives we are there if it is not there where we are going to find ourselves? One thing our leaders should remember: democratic ideals may not yield any results if we lack sustained efforts to empower people both politically and economically. Economic injustice provides a fertile ground for conflict.

The most fundamental thing is nation-building with all components of national society contributing to it in a selfless manner and, of course, with a view to promoting national harmony. National unity must remain the priority goal of political process, both right and left. We have to make efforts to change the society consistent in the changes in our thinking. We should understand that charity begins at home.

The role of the civic society in every sector of society is more important but the scale of this effort should be larger. Civic society can assist civilian movements in framing and carrying out well-conceived strategies for nonviolent conflict, setting the agenda for negotiations. Numerous structural factors help to mold a nation's negotiating style, including geography and geopolitics, governmental structures, economic indicators, demographic makeup, and legal and educational systems.

An active civic society is always needed for leading the social movement because strong civic society is the foundation of democratic development and creation of a just and equitable society. In any time of conflict, it is the civic society that plays the lead role in bringing about a tangible and lasting solution to the problem facing the nation and the people.

The civic society should rally for bigger social transformation and stability and to bring about social reforms. A member of civil society can help bring about drastic and conceptual changes because the role of the civil society has largely confined to issuing a couple of press statements and organising mass meetings of a selected group of people in the capital in case of heavy losses of lives in confrontations in the remote parts of the country.

Civic society has to be trained in the skills they will need to organize nonviolent action, including public speaking, managing people, preparing effective appeals for support, fundraising, and identifying and neutralizing informants and infiltrators because given the high likelihood of harassment, repressive violence, imprisonment, solitary confinement, or even torture, leaders also need to be prepared with the basics of trauma management.

To promote a permanent peace and respect for diversity through citizen participation in programs that develop a consensus around peace issues. To contribute to the definition of a permanent national peace policy through action, ideas and research aimed at the construction of a society based on policies of social justice and sustainable, humane development.

*************

(Kamala Sarup is editor to http://peacejournalism.com /)

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