Commemoration; A purposeless exercise
Commemoration in general is celebration in which tributes are paid to a person for his contribution towards society, community, country or world. Also in commemoration the events of significance are remembered. Commemorating special occasions creates sense of community, inculcates sense of meaning and adds exhilaration to our lives. However we often miss the point in commemoration i.e., the essence of remembering _commitment of adherence to the person’s mission or event’s significance. Commemoration has been confined to a formality having no real importance. For instance, we celebrate Mother’s day but concurrently their number in old age homes grows with time. Valentine’s Day is commemorated but we also fail to provide dignified life to women. We celebrate Ghandi Jyanti and Qaid day in subcontinent but are averse to act upon their message. Likewise on 10th December we celebrated Human rights day round the globe to mark the day United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights considered as milestone in the history of human rights but disappointingly are less concerned about rights of humans.
In this document are present about thirty articles meant for protection of human rights. In addition to stressing upon equality, liberty, security etc this document promises freedom of opinion, freedom of religion, freedom of movement and so on. But seventy years are on, have we ever thought about its implementation apart from celebrating its adoption? Adoption is not success but implementation is. Adoption doesn’t demand celebration but implementation does. Adoption if not commemorated is not the issue however non- implementation is the issue we need to ponder.
We have been observing this day since 1948, superfluously. All around the world human right abuse are crossing boundaries. In some parts of world human blood is spilled in the name of religion and for differences of opinion. In other parts humans are targeted in the name of Love Jihad and for choice of food they want to eat. Violations of human rights exist in every part of the world .According to Amnesty international’s 2009 world report, individuals are tortured in at least 81 countries, in 54 countries they face unfair trails and are restricted in freedom of speech at least in 77 countries. However, when excruciation of Palestinian and Kashmiris comes in our mind it sends shivers down the spine. Contrary to Article-4 of same declaration that reads;”No one shall be held in slavery or servitude, slavery and slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms” these places have been occupied and people have been illegitimately enslaved. Since 1967 (When Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip and controlled these areas through repression, institutionalized discrimination, and systematic abuses of the Palestinian population’s rights) five categories of human right violations have been noticed characterizing occupation : unlawful killings; forced displacement; abusive detention; the closure of the Gaza Strip and other unjustified restrictions on movement; and the development of settlements, along with the accompanying discriminatory policies that disadvantage Palestinians. In last three Gaza conflicts alone (2009, 2012,2014) over 2000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops .By 2017, Israel had established 237 illegal settlements there, housing approximately 580,000 settlers and have forced thousands to displace and leave their homes . For decades, Israeli authorities have demolished homes on the grounds that they lacked permits, even though the law of occupation prohibits destruction of property. Similarly abusive detention is another tool of repression to muzzle the voices of dissent and to make the people submissive. Furthermore, Israel’s closure of the Gaza Strip, particularly restrictions on movement of masses and on outgoing goods, continues to trouble civilian population, separating families, as it restricts access to medical care, educational and economic opportunities. According to reports approximately 70 percent of Gaza’s 1.9 million people rely on humanitarian assistance. With all this happening under the nose of human right regimes no one musters courage to press for implementation of resolutions and raise concern about violations of human rights.
Similarly ,Kashmir also has longer history of occupation that started after former was handed over from an unpopular ruler without the legitimacy of popular vote to the Indian state on October 26, 1947 through instrument of accession on conditions of United Nations resolution (1948) for plebiscite which is now being denied. Believing death better than slavery, Kashmiris have been struggling for right to self determination. This is only their crime for which they are paying since decades. This world’s most militarialised zone with 500,000 military personnel in the region (proportionally one soldier for 25 civilians) is facing worst human violations. J&K Coalition of civil society report is testimony that more than 70,000 killings, about 10,000 enforced disappearances and 7,000 mass graves. Human rights violations like Mass killings, rapes, torture, sexual violence, enforced disappearance, detention and extra-judicial killings makes major part of its history. Like other social laws draconian laws viz; AFSPA, PSA are existing to repress basic civil liberties and have added to sufferings of people. Recently the document made public by Union home ministry through RTI activist namely Venkatesh Naik also revealed that J&K tops list of human right violations committed under these laws. 2016 intifada added another darkest chapter to the Kashmir history during which Jammu and Kashmir witnessed the killing of 383 persons (including militants and government forces) which is statistically the highest in last five years. Moreover, thousands of persons were injured and there were illegal detentions of around 10,000 people including human right activists. To quell massive uprising that followed Burhan Wani’s killing, use of unrestrained force by government forces resulted into large-scale abuse of human rights. The pellet gun, a weapon banned in other countries were used to tackle the protest rendering more than thousands injured with 1000+ civilians receiving eye damage fully or partially .Amnesty international took cognizance and called for an immediate ban on pellet guns but are still in use. As per reliable reports there was extrajudicial execution of more than 100 civilians; Protest gatherings and marches, including funeral processions and public prayers were met with violence. Freedom of press was violated, newspapers were banned and communication services were even curtailed to keep the world incognizant about the atrocities inflicted on Kashmiris. And this year an unusual and reprehensible concept of human shield emerged in which a civilian was tied to bonnet of jeep by army officer to deter protesters and to create psychosis among them. World community noticed, did lip-service i.e., condemned but couldn’t come up with any solution to put an end to it. No one can assure normalcy in future as root problem is yet to be addressed.
Both Palestinian and Kashmiris and the people facing the brunt all around the globe want the world powers and international human right forums not to be ceremonial but realistic. They demand concerned institutions to ensure what this event is meant for rather than reducing its purpose so that dignity becomes everyone’s fate. International community must wakeup to human right abuse perpetually carried out globally, only then world peace is possible and that would justify the commemoration of human rights day.
Zeeshan Rasool Khan (The author writes about socio- political issues and can be mailed at email@example.com)