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Tibet: OutLook Opinions and Columns Everyday is Human Rights Day: A new hope for Tibetans in Tibet?

Everyday is Human Rights Day: A new hope for Tibetans in Tibet?

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Dharamshala: - International Human Rights Day passed few days ago with a very meaningful message of the United Nations for the whole world, whole year, and specially for those who never had the opportunity to enjoy the real human rights. This year's official slogan is "Human Rights 365," which underscores the new idea with new hopes that every day is a human rights day.

On December 10, the people of Tibet once again placed a great hope in the United Nations, as well all other UN Member States in commemorating this year's International Human Rights Day. Because, the theme of the 2014 Human Rights Day which projects the new idea that every day of the year should be a human rights day that "each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights."

We are in the 21st century, we remind the 7 billion human beings that sixty-six years ago, on December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as an expression of the aspirations of the people of the world regarding human rights as they all are born free and equal in dignity.

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights" still remained the very powerful opening words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which promises all the economic, social, political, cultural and civil rights that underpin a life free from want and fear.

On the other hand, the stories of human rights violations, including torture are being widely discussed not in the peace-loving countries but the United Nations, where Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein have strongly and specifically urged the global community, including the authoritarian regimes to respect human rights "every day of the year."

Whether practical or theoretical, this time it appears to have a strong sense based on true commitment to promote world peace- an effectiveness-implementation to uphold not only human dignity and equality for all, but sense of bringing new hopes and dreams for the freedom of expression which is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

However, after more than 60 years of violent oppression of Tibetan people, the Chinese government continued its hardline policies in Tibet, restricting freedoms and basic human rights, have intensified Tibetan grievances and exacerbated the resentment felt across the region.

Despite continued protests and international criticism, Chinese authorities continued to commit serious human rights abuses in Tibet, Eastern Turkistan and China. The grave human rights violations in Tibet—including torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, house arrest, detention without public trial, repression of religious freedom, and arbitrary restrictions on freedom of movement are still alive and considered as a legacy of former Chinese dictators.

Just two days before International Human Rights Day, a top Chinese official in Brussels made a remark that clearly shows that China does not agree human rights are universal, but rather a "right to development and survival," — further damaging the traditional definition of human rights.

"The EU and China shared similar views in some areas, and disagreed in others. One thing they disagreed on was the definition of human rights," Mr Li Junhua from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC said at a joint press-conference on Dec. 8, 2014 after the one-day EU-China Human Rights Dialogue held in Brussels.

Speaking on the definition of human rights, Li said "From the EU perspective, I think the human rights are very much focused on the civil liberties, the right of government, but in China, we're talking about the right to development and the right to survival."

International Human rights organizations however paint a completely different picture. In Human Rights Watch's 2014 world report, it said, "The government remains an authoritarian one-party state. It places arbitrary curbs on expression, association, assembly, and religion; prohibits independent labor unions and human rights organizations; and maintains Party control over all judicial institutions."

Reporters Without Borders ranks China 175 out of 180 countries, for freedom of the press and Amnesty International calls China an "authoritarian state" as does the U.S. State Department and the EU.

"On Human Rights Day we speak out," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon said in his message to mark the Day. "We declare that human rights are for all of us, all the time: whoever we are and wherever we are from; no matter our class, our opinions, our sexual orientation."

Three years after the United Nations was founded, the General Assembly laid the cornerstone of contemporary human rights law: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, intended as a "common standard of achievement for all peoples."

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted on Dec. 10, 1948, the day now observed worldwide as International Human Rights Day. Its 30 articles spell out basic civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights that all human beings in every country should enjoy.

"Violations of human rights are more than personal tragedies," the secretary-general further said. "They are alarm bells that may warn of a much bigger crisis."

As a result of those "alarms," Mr Ban said his Human Rights Up Front campaign, launched in 2013, sought to anticipate violations before they degenerate into mass atrocities or war crimes while advancing the struggle against injustice, intolerance and extremism.

In his statement issued for the Day, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, echoed Ban's appeal and underscored the power of the Universal Declaration to "change the world."

"The power of the Universal Declaration is the power of ideas to change the world. It tells us that human rights are essential and indivisible – 365 days a year. Every day is Human Rights day: a day on which we work to ensure that all people can gain equality, dignity and freedom".

"Human rights are not country-specific," Zeid further said. "They are not a reward for good behavior or particular to a certain era or social group. They are the inalienable entitlements of all people, at all times and everywhere, 365 days a year."

"Together, we must demand what should be guaranteed: our human rights, universal, indivisible, inalienable, for everyone." Zeid added.

"The UN Human Rights Office stands with the millions of people around the world whose voices are denied," Zeid said, as he called on the public to join OHCHR "via social media or in person."

In exile, the Central Tibetan Administration, with support from the many peace loving governments, parliaments and other partners, has further integrated these rights into practical manners, as well as more coordination with Tibetan NGOs, such as the Tibetan Women's Association.

In the words of Sikying Dr Lobsang Sangay, the elected political leader of Tibetans, "Unfortunately, even 66 years after the proclamation, Tibetans have very little to celebrate. Instead, China consistently negates the provisions of the declaration, and human rights standards in Tibet continue to deteriorate. Tibet is still under occupation and the Tibetan people suffer political repression, economic marginalization, social discrimination, environmental destruction and cultural assimilation."

On that day, the whole world marked International Human Rights Day during the same day that the people of Tibet commemorated the 25th anniversary of the day His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to world peace, justice and freedom and his consistent resistance to the use of violence in his people's struggle to regain their liberty.

"Violations have been prevented. Independence and autonomy have been attained. Many people – though not all – have been able to secure freedom from torture, unjustified imprisonment, summary execution, enforced disappearance, persecution and unjust discrimination," Zeid al-Hussein further said in statement.

But, Tibetans live in a place where they are constantly faced with Chinese hardline policies, surrounded by political repression, economic marginalization, social discrimination, environmental destruction and cultural assimilation. Tibet, an Asian nation where all persons are supposedly born free and equal in dignity and rights, but actually nothing is free even after 65 years, which they therefore have reason to believe that a world where the fundamental human rights are only enshrined on paper but never enjoyed.

The UN and international communities must reflect on how far they still must go to meet their promise and ensure that the inalienable human rights of all people are respected— while addressing the human rights violations wherever and whenever they take place, without a fear of political and economic pressure, because "Everyday is Human Rights Day."

The UN, however, reminds us again on the need to rededicate our efforts to protect human rights for all, and play our respective roles in advancing the struggle against injustice, intolerance and extremism.

As our elders have done in the past more than sixty years, the younger generation of Tibetans must continue to stand behind the Tibetans inside Tibet and their aspirations, to ensure the respect and promotion of human rights for all.

This will also entail hard working with the international community and NGOs, governments, Tibet Support Groups and the other peace loving people in addressing the human rights abuses in Tibet and anywhere in the world, reinforcement of political participation and more empowerment of civil society organizations.

Keep in mind that human rights are universal and we can change attitudes to create a happier and more equal world, let us not think about human rights only today because "Everyday is Human Rights Day," all the 365 days of the year!

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 16 December 2014 16:13 )  


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