CRISIS OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Crisis: the word alone commands attention like no other, for what is a crisis but a moment of breakdown of set rules and regulations and when everything is called into question. And that is what this year has been. A crisis of human rights.
This year has been rocked by tragedy after another starting with the coronavirus (the second wave in most countries is hitting its peak, so I hope you are protecting yourself in every way you can) and we’ve resigned to mark these events as another weird mind boggling day in the calendar of 2020. Basic rights and freedoms are being violated across the globe. From the most established democracies to the developing economies, the abuse of these rights has been immensely disturbing. There has been call by human rights groups for a global calling out of countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and the United States who have been abusive to human rights or tried to reexamine them. A chock full of these atrocities are spread out across the globe.
Killing of unarmed black men and women in the United States led to people forgoing safety regulations to social distance and hold mass protests day and night for weeks to demand justice, accountability and change in government institutions for these gruesome incidents. Professional sports organizations like the NBA, NFL, WNBA, and even the Premier League in Europe all made their voices heard with campaigns of black lives matter and no room for racism to support the cause.
Police brutality isn’t a problem resigned to the US alone, it is rampant across the globe and more so in Africa and as the world marches for America, the same goes unquestioned here. This year has seen cases of citizen killing by police in various countries rise by a sharp margin. There was international outrage when police fired at demonstrators on Nigerian streets who were protesting, get this, police brutality. Mind numbing, right? The hashtag #EndSARS (Special Anti- Robbery Squad) trended for up to three weeks as youth in the country made it clear they needed their voices to be heard. At least 10 people have been killed by security personnel enforcing the lockdown in South Africa, a country with a bad record on police brutality, a situation even President Cyril Ramaphosa, also the chairman of the African Union, described as regrettable. The same can be said of Kenya where despite protests by angry citizens and promises by the head of state for reforms in the police service, nothing has been done. (Apart from changing its name from police force to service).
Cameroon faces a different problem entirely but still of the same magnitude. The fighting between the English speaking and French speaking Cameroonians has led to the deaths of over 3000 people and displacement of about 530,000 since 2016. The English speakers say thy face discrimination from the French speaking government. The crisis has become so heated that gunmen walked into a classroom on October 24th and shot at children killing 7. They were aged between 9 and 12. The Norwegian Refugee Council has reported that Cameroon tops the list of the most neglected crisis on the planet.
Across the pond in turkey, murder of women is rampant with 500 women being killed in 2019 alone and 63 between the months of June and august this year. Horrifying numbers as the country withdraws from the Istanbul convention whose aim was to curb violence against women. (This makes no sense). Protesting on the streets in turkey, women say that the state cannot shield them and that harsh punishment should be meted on those found guilty to deter others from doing the same. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has gone on record saying that he doesn’t believe in equality of genders and that it “goes against human nature” to think so. Charming man.
According to the executive director of human rights watch Kenneth Roth, China takes the crown as a global threat to human rights as its government sees human rights as an existential threat. From its mass surveillance of anybody they view as a threat, to global censorship and subversion of the United Nations, the Chinese government has a vice grip on its people and little to no governments are willing to stand up to them for fear of retaliation.
As per the human rights watch report of 2020, China also seeks to distort the international rights framework by suggesting that economic progress should precede the need to respect rights and by urging “win-win cooperation” (subsequently renamed “mutually beneficial cooperation”), which frames rights as a question of voluntary cooperation rather than legal obligation.
In 1945, the UN was formed on the basis of three pillars; development, peace and security and lastly human rights. The latter receiving only 3% of the budget as countries large and small continue to undermine this important pillar. At the 75th United Nations general assembly this year, human rights was expected to be a major topic of discussion but it was overshadowed by the US-china rivalry. The French president Emmanuel macron however did address the issue of detention of Uyghur Muslims by the Chinese government (in what they call re-education centers) asking for UN to embark on an international mission to visit the Xinjiang region to assess the situation.
In closing remark; We should understand that rights are intertwined, interrelated and universally accepted. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) provides a tablet for which countries uphold these rights. It is upon each person to respect and uphold these rights for the continued growth and cooperation around the world as we all share equal rights irrespective of gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.