Fundamental Human Rights are Universal

Washington, D.C.  December 10, 2009.  Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, Executive Director of the Kashmiri American Council/Kashmir Center, today welcomed the statement of Ms. Navanethem Pillay, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights who wanted to encourage people everywhere to honour Human Rights Day 2009 by embracing diversity and resolving to take concrete and lasting actions to help put an end to discrimination.

Dr. Fai said that fundamental human rights are universal.  That is the tacit assumption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  They know no religious, national, or political boundaries.  And they are not hierarchical, like caste systems or monarchies.  Everyone stands on the same plane when human rights are at issue.

Dr. Fai further emphasized that success is measured not only by objectives, but also by whether an alternate strategy would have been an improvement.  Thus, as Churchill said of democracy, it is the worst form of government except for all others that have been conceived or attempted.  Similarly, it might be said of the United Nations that it is the worst international organization for achieving peace, self-determination, and human rights, but for all the alternatives that have been attempted or contemplated.

The Executive Director suggested that adding teeth to human rights is urgent.  On that count, the news is auspicious.  He submitted that candor and fair-mindedness supports the conclusion that the United Nations has been painfully ineffective measured by the yardsticks of international peace, human rights, and self-determination.  An initial example so far remains Kashmir. India’s international lawlessness has escaped United Nations sanctions or even moral reproach for more than 62 years.

Dr. Fai lamented the seeming conspiracy of silence over gross affronts to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in that occupied land, an occupation which itself violates still binding United Nations Security Council resolutions dictating a self-determination there under international impartial supervision.  That unheroic muteness has emboldened India to a chilling campaign of human rights atrocities against innocent Kashmiris.  The 700,000 Indian military and paramilitary forces operate outside the rule of law under the protective umbrella of an Indian immunity statute. Egregious human rights violations are commonplaces:  involuntary disappearances, extrajudicial killings, rape, torture, plunder, abductions, mutilations, arbitrary detentions and recently discovered over 3,000 mass graves in Kupwara.
Dr. Fai cautioned that Dr. Manmohan Singh’s assertion that borders cannot be redrawn in Kashmir is an insult to the intelligence of the people of Kashmir. The people have always revolted against the status quo and the status quo cannot be an option. The gruesome status quo in Kashmir is both legally and morally unacceptable and militarily and economically frightening, he added.

Finally Dr. Fai reminded that according to Candidate Obama the United States holds urgent national security and foreign policy interests in a negotiated solution to the 62-year-old Kashmir conflict. This obviously is consistent with international law and practices and human rights covenants. Therefore, an appointment of a special envoy on Kashmir will hasten the process of peace and prosperity in the whole region of South Asia, including Afghanistan.