By Zainab Wani*
“Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.”
— Office of High Commissioner, United Nations Human Rights
Referring to the definition given above, human rights are something we are all entitled to, something that should be a given in any situation. But alas, this isn’t the case when it comes to the Kashmir valley. The value for life is absolutely disregarded in the geo-political tug-o-war that has been occurring for decades, and with the advancement in technology and interconnectivity, people from around the world are finally getting to see the extent of damage that is occurring.
Human rights are universal and inalienable. Universal? Does this mean that the child that gets pelted in Kashmir would have been pelted on the roads of New Delhi? I think not. Inalienable? If someone is simply accused of terrorism, there will be no trial for the first 6 months. Now imagine, just how many lives must be altered once they’ve been branded with the name ‘terrorist’ regardless of proof.
Human rights are interdependent and indivisible. The right to life, social and cultural rights like the right to work, social security and education? I have one word, Hartaal. When society and the economy comes to a complete stand still, each individual suffers, leading to nothing more, if anything less. Equality before law and freedom of expression? If this were the case, then there wouldn’t be an issue at all in the valley. Violence has only culminated due to the lack of equal distribution of these basic human rights.
The question isn’t, are human rights being violated in the valley, but how, and to what extend are they being bludgeoned. This is not only speaking for the civilians that are suppressed in their homes more days than not, but also for the army officials that are subjected to fight in this never ending loop between rock throwing children and extremist manipulators being paid under the table to cause unrest. The deeper we go into this topic, the more complex and controversial it gets. Because now it has become more than just an issue, it has become a way of life.
Kashmiris suffer because they are Kashmiris, not for a specific cause, not for a specific reason. The army suffers because they are trying to fix a problem that has no solution, at least none that the dedicated political parties have arrived at, and after how many years?
The issue becomes more than just political; this becomes one of human rights now. Why should the common man suffer for the egos of maniacs? His children must get educated, his wife and daughter must feel safe, his bread and butter must be put on the table, and his home must be secure. If these are rights that are being denied at such a mass scale, how can the people go on? How is this not abuse and violation of everything that makes us human?
If this was an issue that could have been solved, or even saw progress towards being resolved, we could have hope. But now, in our present situation, regardless of the politics of the situation, we must focus on the human element. We must protect the rights of these humans who have been suffering, causing deprivation and a complete stand still in progress, with conditions degrading day by day.
We say human rights. A Kashmiri asks, “I’m human, right?”
*Freelance writer. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org