Every year, the global community celebrates December 10 as the International Human Rights Day and the week it falls on as Human Rights Week to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN General Assembly in 1948.
However, in the identities of the powers running the countries that observe it on the official level, and other countries who are vocal about human rights in general, I find something ironic. Some of the countries that are in the front line to celebrate this day are also the same countries that unflinchingly crush human rights under their feet, should the need arise.
Let us get ourselves a two-sentence history lesson before I jump to explain what I mean.
Eleanor Roosevelt, the American First Lady of the time who was representing the United States, chaired the committee that was set up to draft the UDHR. On one hand, she was heading a committee that was working for human rights and on the other; she was a strong supporter of the occupied state of Israel – where human rights were being violated all day, every day – and she remained so until her death in 1962.
Now, just the seventh of this month witnessed a statement by the president of the United States of America regarding the Human Rights Day. It is quite ironic that he proclaimed Dec. 10 as the Human Rights Day and urged the Americans to hold appropriate celebrations while during the same presidential term, he shifted the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and marked it as the capital of the colonialist entity, where the killing of innocent kids is a routine. All this with American aid continuing to flow into the coffers of Israel.
It is not hard to find an example of irony concerning human rights in India either, where despite all of Narendra Modi’s speeches about human rights, Kashmir has seen the zenith of human rights violations. The latest victim of all the state-sponsored violence in Kashmir is a 10-month-old baby girl called Hiba, who, the doctors fear, could lose complete eyesight due to pellets fired by the Indian army.
The hypocrisy going on under the cloak of human rights does not end here. If we look at the attitude of the Burmese human rights activist, politician and de-facto ruler of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi regarding the genocide of Rohingya Muslims, we can somewhat smell the western definition of human rights. The award-winning activist disregarded the genocide multiple times, which was later considered “a shameful betrayal of the values she once stood for” by Amnesty International.
There would hardly be an intellectual who would be unaware of what is happening in Yemen right now, but if we take a closer look at the list of countries supporting Saudi Arabia in its war on Yemen, we would notice that it is just a collection of the same countries that brag being the standard-bearers of human rights worldwide.
All these examples lead us to the conclusion that lifting the banner of human rights can be just another tool at the disposal of most of the world powers to reach their selfish goals.
To just celebrate and acknowledge human rights on one day or one week of the year does not summarize the duty of humans regarding fellow humans.
Rather, the biggest responsibility on our shoulders is to raise our voice against injustice when we see it, because choosing to remain silent in the wake of injustice is actually taking the side of the oppressor.
Photo: UN Audiovisual Library