Some Thoughts on Human Rights

When this write-up will be published, we have already observed the 50th UN Human Rights Day on December 10, 1998.

Indeed the human rights document of the UN is a major one and by and large world has agreed on basic aspects of human rights and the need for their implementation in the various countries of the world. Those who worked for the preparation of the documents on the basis of the experience of humanity in history deserve our greatest admiration and thanks.

Human rights are really fundamental to human existence and good life. There may be some disagreement on the details of human rights, but there is hardly any disagreement on basic aspects of human rights. Human rights were always violated in the human history. The rulers, the local powerful people mostly oppressed people and did not grant them full enjoyment of human rights. Even the religious leadership in some cases was responsible for violation of human rights, though this was not in the best spirit of religious values.

It was hoped that with the advent of modern times arrival of renaissance, rise in education, the condition of human rights shall radically improve. There has been of course improvement in some respects in some countries. But life and liberty of people in most countries are still not safe. There has been increase in terrorism by the state within and outside the political borders of the state. We do not find any justification of bombing in Sudan, Libya and Afganistan by one super power. The way one or two powers threaten Iraq every now and then of military action shows that some countries have given up even the mask of honorable behaviour.

We have also seen recently the terrorism of Serbia in Bosnia and Kosovo. State terrorism is also going unabated for long in Palestine and Kashmir. Israel and India want to hold on to West Bank and Kashmir by force even though the people of the area do not want them.

State terrorism and violation of human rights has another dimension. It is violation of human rights by the state security organs in their own people. It is the most common type and prevalent in almost all countries. In Bangladesh also several hundred people have died in police custody. Torture in the hand of police and investigation agencies is a regular feature. Though law does not permit it from my discussion with police officials. I have found them mostly to justify it. Remand comes handy for torture.

After the death of Rubel , a young student, in the hands of police, most people have demanded the abolition of remand system and Section 54 of Cr. P.C. Justice Habibur Rahman Commission has given some suggestions. The Govt. of Bangladesh should implement them without any delay.

However, there should be no excess in the area of human rights. There are people who have opposed action against blasphemy, pornography and "living together"(without marriage) in the name of liberty, freedom and human rights. These are perversions. We can not agree to such excessive freedom as these are against our very good moral values.

Human rights are far from being achieved. A great movement by moral philosophers and activists will be needed to reach the goal and it will probably take time.

(Published in The Envoy, Dhaka, dated the 16th December 1998)