Bangladesh is observing the Human Rights Day today as elsewhere in the world to create awareness against violations of human rights and persecution of humans.
The observance of this Day coincides with the persecution of Rohingyas by Myanmar security forces which shocked the world community amid a huge influx of refugees into Bangladesh.
Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10 – the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Let’s stand up for equality, justice and human dignity,” is the theme of this year’s human rights day.
This year, the Human Rights Day will kick off a year-long campaign to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being — regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. It is the most translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages.
The United Nations will kick off the campaign in Paris on Sunday to honour the foundational human rights document, which will mark its 70th anniversary next year.
Since the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, “human rights have been one of the three pillars of the United Nations, along with peace and development,” said Secretary-General António Guterres in his message for the Human Rights Day.
In Bangladesh, President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina greeted people in separate messages on the day.
Abdul Hamid said, “I am delighted to know that International Human Rights Day is being observed in Bangladesh like elsewhere of the world.”
All international charters of human rights have been enumerated in the constitution of Bangladesh, he said. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Bangladesh has been constituted to enforce and monitor human rights of the people in the country, the President added.
The government is working hard to eliminate poverty, illiteracy and violations of human rights. The government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently created rare precedence of protecting human rights, by giving shelter to persecuted and displaced Rohingya, who fled Myanmar. For her noble task, Sheikh Hasina has been regarded as “Mother of Humanity,” President Abdul Hamid said in his message.
In her message, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman sacrificed his life for the cause of oppressed and deprived people. “Bangabandhu used to say that world is divided into two parts - oppressors and oppressed. And I am with the oppressed,” she said.
To protect human rights and establish rule of law, Awami League government has taken some visible steps, including the constitution of NHRC, ensuring a free and independent function of the judiciary.
Bangladesh has signed and ratified various international statues and covenants on women, children and labours. Besides, several top war criminals were tried, convicted and hanged to give legal redress to the victims of genocide and crimes against humanity, the premier said.
On the occasion, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Bangladesh Chairman Kazi Reazul Hoque called upon all government and private actors to work together to establish a culture of protecting human rights in the country.
“I hope that all public and private organisations will work together to protect and improve the culture of protecting human rights in Bangladesh,” he said.
Reazul Hoque said human rights are inalienable rights of every human being that permits him or her to live with fundamental and other rights, equitable treatment and dignity.
These are inherent rights which cannot be curtailed or snatched away, he added.
The government of Bangladesh has taken several steps to promote human rights situation, he continued.
“The UN Women recognised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as “Planet 50-50 Champion” for her contribution to women empowerment. She received the “Agent of Change Award” from Global Partnership Forum for her contribution to gender equality and women empowerment,” said the NHRC chief.
Speaking about the role of NHRC Bangladesh in defending human rights, Reazul Hoque said the Commission has formed 11 committees to monitor different kinds of human rights violations. It also set up a system to receive human rights violation complaints through online. Any rape or other victims can submit written or online complaints to the Commission for putting those into the tribunals.
NHRC has established regional offices in Rangamati and Khulna to reach its service to the doorstep of people. Gradually, other regions will get such regional offices. The Commission has appointed panel lawyers in various parts across the country to provide the poor and destitute human rights victims with legal support for free, said Reazul Hoque.
NHRC condemns and investigates any reported and sensitive incident of rapes, killing and persecution of minority anywhere of the country. It submits report along with recommendations to the government for taking necessary action, he added.
However, he voiced concern over incidents of rape, abduction and killing in various parts of the country.
If law enforcers and others concerned are encouraged by the role of Prime Minister and work accordingly, the countrymen will get rid off rape, killing and abduction, he commented.
Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said values enshrined in Universal Declaration of Human Rights are under assault, which must be defended.
“We see a backlash against many human rights advances, including on the rights of women and those of many minorities, in the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe,” he said.
He claimed many political leaders openly deny the fundamental truth of article 1 of the Universal Declaration which says ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’
“The Universal Declaration is a commitment, by all States, that they will protect and promote human rights. It is essential that we continue to hold those States to account. But human rights are too important to be left to States alone – too precious to all of us, and to our children,” he said in a statement from Geneva.
On December 10, 2018 – we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and this year’s Human Rights Day on Sunday marks the beginning of a year-long 70th-anniversary commemoration, he said.
Zeid said, “It will also, I hope, be a year of intense and profound reflection on the continuing and vital importance of each and every one of the 30 articles contained in this extraordinary document.”
The Universal Declaration was drawn up by a world wounded by war, the remedy prescribed by States to inoculate their populations against their own worst instincts and omissions.
He cautioned, “It was drawn up by representatives, and endorsed by leaders, of countries from all continents, who were – to quote from the Declaration’s preamble – fully, recently, sorely, aware that ‘disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind.”
“Ultimately it is up to us, to ‘we the people,’ for whom this Declaration was written. It is up to me; to you; to everyone in every city, province and country where there is still space to express thoughts, participate in decisions, raise one’s voice. We need to act to promote peace, fight back against discrimination, and to uphold justice,” he said.
He said all must organise and mobilise in defence of human decency, in defence of a better common future.
“We must not stand by, bewildered, as the post-World War II system of values unravels around us. We must take a robust and determined stand: by resolutely supporting the human rights of others, we also stand up for our own rights and those of generations to come,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said.