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IOS organises symposium on Human Rights Day

December 10, 2014 at Aligarh

On the occasion of Human Rights Day, the Aligarh chapter of Institute of Objective Studies organised a symposium on "Contemporary Threats and Challenges to Human Rights" on December 10, 2014 on its premises which was attended by a large number of undergraduate and postgraduate students, research scholars, university teachers, human rights activists and social workers.

While welcoming the audience and speakers Mr. Mohammad Serajuddin Khan, assistant coordinator of the chapter, expressed concern over the flagrant violations of human rights in every nook and cranny of the globe, in one form or the other, and exhorted all and sundry to come forward to fight violations of human rights tooth and nail. He requested Dr. Rachna Kaushal, Assistant Professor in Human Rights at Aligarh Muslim University, to initiate the discussion.

While highlighting the importance of right to life, which is mother of all rights, she stressed the lack of good governance as the main cause of human rights violations. Khap panchayats, domestic violence and dowry deaths and lack of human development were the new threats to the realisation of human rights.

Mr. Sabir Rahi, divisional president Rashtriya Manav Adhikar Sangathan, lamented that we remembered human rights only once a year on December 10. He said every month a human rights programme should be organised, especially in schools and colleges to sensitise people about their significance.

Dr. Naghma Azhar, Assistant Professor in the Department of Commerce at AMU, spoke about the origin of human rights from Magna Carta to the framing of human rights provisions in the Indian Constitution. She also dealt with landmark judgments of the Supreme Court of India to enforce fundamental rights.

Maulana Sultan Ahmad Islahi, an Islamic scholar and working president, Parcham Party of India, spoke on the double standards of great power politics on human rights issues. He highlighted how these great powers were disregarding the rights of Muslims, especially of Palestinians and Rohingyas in Mayanmar (Burma), and Tibetans. He passionately argued that this state of affairs would continue till all Muslim states, especially the Arabs united politically like the European Union to emerge as a great power to counter the hegemonic designs of Western imperialist states which were determined to discover enemies in Muslim States in the absence of the communist USSR.

On India, he said Naxalism was a great threat to human rights. Marginalised, landless people are attracted to the extremist ideology of Naxalism. If landless people were empowered and land was given to them, the problem of Maoism would come to an end. He advocated that labour rights in Aligarh lock industry should be recognised and child labour should be banned. He also said that Muslim NGOs should have the political vision to fight for rights.

Mr. Farhat Usmani was the last speaker. He talked about Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) sermon during his last Hajj to highlight equality of all races. He said duties were also very important. He lamented that sometimes lower courts in India took 20 to 30 years to deliver judgments. The Supreme Court and High Courts were the only hope and had best record to protect human rights.

The Programme was chaired by Professor Abdulrahim Vijapur, former Chairman, Department of Political Science, and Director, Centre for Nehru Studies, AMU, Aligarh and Visisting Professor to India Chair (instituted by Government of India) at Carlton University, Ottawa, Canada. Before commenting on the five speakers, he lamented that Aligarh Muslim University's various departments failed to organise Human Rights Day event. He appreciated the IOS for taking the initiative. While delivering his remarks he noted that two human rights activists from India and Pakistan - Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousuf - got this year's Nobel Peace Prize at the same time when we were observing Human Rights Day at IOS.

He said that all humans are important as they are the soul of modern political system and that they are indivisible, interdependent and inalienable. He concurred with Maulana Islahis's analysis of super power antagonism with the Muslim world. Elaborating on this point he said that when in 1980s the UN General Assembly was having its Special Session on Palestine, the U.S. government denied visa to Yasser Arafat to attend the session as PLO representative (as Palestine was given Observer Status by the General Assembly) stating that PLO was a terrorist organisation, the General Assembly decided to shift its venue to Geneva to enable Yasser Arafat to attend the special session.

This was the unity of the world. However, when the proposal of expulsion of Israel from the United Nations was under discussion in the Security Council in 1974, three vetos by US, UK and France were used to defeat the proposal. Prof. Vijapur said that there were many new challenges and threats to human rights. According to him fundamentalism of both the majority and minority community in India was a great threat.

He advocated political consensus to adopt a law of compensation to address the issue of unlawful arrest or detention of people, who were mostly from minority communities, Dalits or tribals. He forcefully argued for deleting Article 22 of the Constitution which permits preventive detention (under which PDA, TADA, POTA, MISA and NSA had been adopted by Parliament, which enabled the police to arrest any person merely on the basis of suspicion and keep him/her under detention up to 90 days without producing the person before a magistrate to determine the lawfulness of his/her detention).

While concluding his speech, he recalled the words of Father of the Nation, who had said, "A civilisation can be judged by the way it treats its minorities". In the light of the mahatma's views he said that the forcible conversion of people from minority communities to Hinduism in Agra this week and the proposed plan of RSS to convert many Christians to Hinduism in Aligarh on December 25, 2014 was the greatest challenge to minority rights. He recalled the Charter of Madina, drafted by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in consultation with the leaders of Jews and Christians, which granted freedom of religion and application of their religious laws in the first Islamic state more than 1400 years ago.

The programme ended with a vote of thanks proposed by Mr. Mohammed Serajuddin Khan of the IOS.



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