No Human Should Be Without Rights

2014-03-21 05:25

Human Rights Day is observed on the 21 March in South Africa. It remembers the great suffering and loss of life that accompanied the struggle for human rights.

Moreover, it is to remind us that people in South Africa will never again be denied their human rights and dignity.

For democracy to work and be effective, citizens must not only contribute and exercise their rights. They must also observe certain values and ethics of the democratic process.

People must respect the rule of law and discard: racial discrimination, destruction and violence. Nothing ever justifies using violence against people or your political opponents and their supporters, just because they have different views from yours.

While Internationally, March 21, is marked annually as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, in South Africa it is observed as Human Rights Day. The UN in 1966 declared it an International Day to call on the global community to redouble its efforts against racial discrimination.

In this context, I urge our government to call upon the Government of Syria to take vigorous steps to immediately halt the widespread and systematic attacks against civilian populations.

Syria is one of the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century. Every day hundreds of women, children and men flee their homes in distress, panic and anxiety. Thousands have already been killed.

The month of March, which is known as human rights month in South Africa, marks three years since the conflict in Syria began and three years of global leaders failing to end the terrible suffering. The three years of fighting seems to have drained politicians from seeking solutions.

Across the world, people are traumatized at the scale of pain and misery and are inspired by the level of resilience of Syrians struggling to survive the war.

According to Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, her office continually receives reports of serious deterioration of the human rights situation in Syria.

Pillay’s office has received fresh accounts, directly from victims, of multiple forms of torture, including electric shocks, severe beating while in stress positions, cigarette burns, mock executions, sleep deprivation, as well as psychological torture such as threats to rape family members. Detainees also suffered from cruel and degrading conditions of detention.

After three years of violence, we must now demand, that global leaders put aside their geo-politics and bring an end to the bloodshed, all forms of violence and human rights violations and to also get much needed aid to all the victims. The Security Council of the United Nations should also consider referring case of Syria to the International Criminal Court.

This Human Rights Day, I request every global leader and especially our government to work tirelessly for the protection and promotion of human rights both locally and on the international front.

The cries for self-determination, equality and dignity heard in South Africa before 1994 are, today, being heard in Egypt, Zimbabwe, Syria and Palestine and many other countries.

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