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Human rights flow from the barrel of the gun

Wednesday, 21 November 2012 - 9:00am IST | Agency: dna

Aung San Suu Kyi through her candour and dignified demeanour in public has, undoubtedly, warmed the hearts of many, during her recent visit to India.

Aung San Suu Kyi through her candour and dignified demeanour in public has, undoubtedly, warmed the hearts of many, during her recent visit to India. Suu Kyi’s unwavering stand against the junta and her heroic struggle for the restoration of democracy in Burma spread over more than a quarter of a century had already earned her a status of an iconic figure.

However, what enhanced her stature was her truthfulness without sounding bitter, which added feathers to her already endearing persona. In a rare display of character, Suu Kyi candidly but without embarrassing her hosts underscored the failure of India, the world’s largest democracy, to stand firmly with the people of Burma during their period of worst trial: “I think he (Gandhi) would have stood by us... he would have insisted that India stand by us because that was the kind of man he was.” Suu Kyi clearly seems to be referring to India’s change of tack in mid-1990s. “India decided that its eastern neighbour was too big and too important to ignore and that realpolitik had to come before principle’. Under the influence of ‘Look East’ policy, instead of isolating, India ‘started engaging with Burma’s military rulers,” she said.

Suu Kyi seems to be implying that India, forced by the geo-political interests, understandably but undesirably sacrificed the high moral ground of supporting a pro-democracy movement. Suu Kyi’s expectations appear to be very idealistic. A wish that absolute values should in all situations prevail over the exigencies of realpolitik gels perfectly well with the deep desires of millions around the world. That’s why she referred to Gandhiji, an ardent follower of absolute truth.

The concept of universal human rights is immensely exciting. For that matter almost every nation state is signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet, the present world although profusely describing itself as civilised and advanced is as savage and violent as that of a man belonging to the Stone Age.

Shashi Tharoor in his enthusiasm may like to describe Suu Kyi having a ring of hallow around her, but at best she is an inspiring personality, not a saintly figure. While she has every right to criticise India, she has completely failed to voice her concerns about the growing human rights violations against the religious minorities in her own country. The miserable plight of Rohingyas is a point in case. Why to blame her alone; she, after all, is a politician. Even the godly persons fail to rise above the narrow partisan interests. Dalai Lama during his recent visit to Kashmir advised Kashmiri people to remain peaceful. It does not behove well for Dalai Lama, a lifelong guest in India, to speak in favour of any separatist demand. Yet being a holy man he was required to univocally condemn the continued human rights violations in Kashmir. Kashmiri separatists may decry Dalai Lama’s advice to remain peaceful, but they utterly fail to take notice of what’s happening in Tibet. Leave Tibet alone, separatist in Kashmir will never talk about the forcible cultural assimilation of their co-religious Uyghurs of Turkic decent in the autonomous region of Xinjiang (Sinkiang). They will never dare to annoy China, the patron of Pakistan. Longing for human rights is universal be it in Kashmir, Tibet, Sinkiang or for that matter in Burma. But ironically geo-politics divides compell Dalai Lama, Kashmiri separatists and Suu Kyi to voice their concerns selectively.     

The ongoing massacre of Palestinians in Gaza is not enough to shake the international conscience. The Jews have every right to exist but what about the rights of the people in the occupied territories of Palestine? US President Barack Obama says that ‘Israel has a right to defend itself from missiles being aimed at the country by militants in the Gaza Strip’, but he fails to take notice of an 11-month-old baby being killed in the Israeli bombardment. For the so-called civilised world, raining of missile is an issue of paramount importance but what about the huge elephant in the room; the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Obama, Angela Merkel and Catherine Ashton, seem to be suffering from amnesia; Israel for last 60 years has been continuously denying the people of Palestine their right to live with dignity. The length of the canon a country possesses is proportionate to the freedom that nation enjoys. Human rights for all is a big hoax. The facade of civilisation is completely hollow; human rights still flow from the barrel of the gun.

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