HYDERABAD: For an overarching term like ‘human rights’, which is more bandied about than understood by people of this country, the translation of some of the important international rights conventions in simple Sindhi language will reach many.
On Sunday, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in Hyderabad launched four booklets translated in Sindhi at a simple ceremony. These booklets will be distributed free among students at colleges and universities.
The conventions include the human rights system, the international convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances, the declaration on the right and responsibility of individuals, groups and organs of society to promote and protect universally recognised human rights and fundamental freedoms and the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination.
The speakers stressed that ratification alone of the international conventions will not by default ensure implementation. “The knowledge of one’s basic rights as enshrined in a country’s constitution and accorded by the international bodies is necessary,” said Jam Saqi, a veteran communist leader and social activist who was also the chief guest.
Having himself endured the oppression for being a communist and internment during martial law regimes, Saqi recalled that it was the stirring of an understanding of human rights which fuelled social movements against tyrants.
Although he expressed guarded optimism about what these booklets stand to achieve, he endorsed them as one of the right ways of disseminating such knowledge.
Shamsher Ali, a former HRCP activist, said a real change of governance is only possible when the largest section of the population knows their rights. “What precisely should the government and the system bestow on us?”
HRCP’s Dr Ashuthma Luhano drew the audience’s attention towards the issue of forced disappearances of political workers and alleged terrorists on unsubstantiated charges. Article I of the international convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearance categorically prohibits this in any situation. “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for enforced disappearance,” he quoted.
According to Luhano, a victim of enforced disappearance is also entitled to compensation by the state if he was confined by the official authorities.
Advocate Rani Tabassum spoke on the issue of ethnic discrimination. She said Article 7 of international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination makes the state responsible for making an effort to spread racial harmony and assimilation. “Sadly, in a country inhabited by diverse ethnic groups, such integration is evident from the demands for provinces based on ethnic identities,” she said.
Rana Siddiqui, a former councilor, Asghar Ali Laghari, a rights activist and others also spoke.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2012.
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