Intro : I learnt from my illiterate but wise mother that all rights to be deserved and preserved came from duty well done. Thus the very right to live accrues to us only when we do the duty of citizenship of the world. Form this one fundamental statement, perhaps it is easy enough to define the duties of man and woman and correlate every right to corresponding duty to be first performed. —Mahatma Gandhi on Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Human Rights are supposed to be ‘universal and inalienable’ and equal to all human beings, at least that is what the basic lesson on human rights says. The US and Chinese reports countering each other’s human rights track record in the last year question this basic premise about conceptualisation of human rights. A report by Amnesty International on human rights situation in the State of Jammu & Kashmir of India further strengthens the doubts about the concept.
The US State Department issued a Report titled “The 2014 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” on June 25, implicating many countries in the world including China. On June 26, China came up with a Report showing a mirror to the self-proclaimed guardians of democracy and human rights, referring to Baltimore riots, Fergusson killings and many other atrocities perpetrated by the US through agencies like CIA. Both these Reports clearly indicate that the concept of human rights is not uniformly conceived. Therefore, some critics from countries like China opine that the human rights are conceptualised as a strategic tool of certain vested interests and conceived in favour of certain countries, corporations and socio-economic, ethnic and political groups. The UN also cannot escape from criticism of a biased approach on such issues.
What is more disturbing is, the Report published by supposed to be an independent body like Amnesty International India, on human rights situation in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. While claiming that ‘Amnesty International opposes all human rights abuses’ including the perpetrated by what the Report calls as ‘armed groups’, the actual focus of the Report is, as the title itself suggests, on the alleged human rights violations by security force personnel in the State. It is true that while defending human rights the role of State agencies need to be scrutinised but organisation like Amnesty International cannot miss the fact that the conveniently termed ‘armed groups’ are nothing but trained and supported groups by another State called Pakistan. The more tormenting reality is the whole Report is ‘Kashmir Valley’ centric where the discrimination and violence incurred on Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists of Jammu and Ladakh regions are not even taken into consideration. It is the same Indian State where in the name of giving special status to Jammu & Kashmir people are denied basic right such as voting right in the Assembly elections to the West Pakistan Refugees, which crossed over to India in 1947 after Partition. The Report does not take even cognisance of that. The mention of Pandit community, which faced persecution and displacement since 1990s find a mention only once that is also in the historical context. Most strikingly, the independent agency does not make the same noises about the complete absence of any form of democratic mechanisms or rights of the Kashmiris in the Pakistan occupied territories of the State.
This report is not an exception. Most of the reports by International Human Rights groups are one sided, missing the complete picture. Hindus facing persecution and violence in Bangladesh and West Bengal, tribals of North-east being misguided and turned against the State by certain religious groups and Naxals using terror tactics to keep tribal communities in their fold never get space in special reports or press conferences of these organisations. Such lopsided approach on human rights is not going further the cause. In fact, they are going to create grounds for further violence, animosities and violations of each other’s rights. They also strengthen the perceptions that even non-governmental organisations are creations of certain vested interests. Rights irrespective of duties will not be accepted by any nation, which these international NGOs miss out. Unless we revise the human rights discourse, address rights of all individuals and groups concerned equally and link them with some form of proportionate duties; human rights will never be truly universal.
(July 19, 2015 Page : 5)