Do you remember Vishal ‘Hathoda’ Tyagi from the Amazon Prime web series ‘Patal Lok’? Can you in some way relate his character with the Gangster Criminal Vikas Dubey (who has been shot dead in an encounter as per UP Police reports)? Its a strange world we live in where reality is more intriguing and shocking than fiction. Constant human rights abuses, Fake news, fake encounters, fake attacks, fake deaths have become as common as fake accounts on facebook. We need to ask questions. We need to ask regularly. People talk about ISIS in Syria, but have you seen a mass protest against the death of children in anti-terror attacks in Syria? What is the future of the people of Yemen who are continuously subject to human rights abuses and are constantly bearing the fatal fruits of war in their own country? As per Yemen Data Project, “More than 20 million people in Yemen are facing food insecurity, and 10 million of them are at risk of famine.”
Talking of human rights crisis, the name that comes to mind instantly is Sara Hegazi. Sara Hegazi, the prominent Egyptian LGBTQ activist had waved the rainbow flag at a Lebanese rock concert in Egypt and thereafter arrested, allegedly sexually assaulted and tortured in prison and then got an exile and home arrest in Canada. She committed suicide on 13th June, 2020 in Toronto. Her last post on instagram said, “The sky is sweeter than the earth! And I want the sky, not the earth”.
Another human rights defender working for the organisation ‘No More Deaths’, Scott Warren, a Geography professor was arrested after he arranged food and water supplies for the unauthorized migrants who were on the verge of death on the Sonoran desert, one of the deadliest stretches of the US-Mexico border. This arrest happened in the beginning of 2018 and for 2 years the police tried to put Warren behind bars, but ultimately after almost a 2 year trauma for Warren, he has been acquitted of all charges and now is leading a normal life. But this acquittal cannot take away the fact that there was a possibility of Warren facing a 20 year prison time for trying to treat suffering and prevent death. This is how the world works? It seems quite amazing how the more powerful control, dominate and brutally mistreat, torture, exploit and kill the less powerful with absolute impunity.
On the other hand, today we are talking of people who do not fear, or show any signs of backing down under the power politics of absolute dominance. The people who rise with extreme courage and show humanitarian values like love and compassion to fight the oppression and also to build a better future. With these values, we have seen two fighters from Greece, Sara Mardini and Sean Binder who had saved the lives of 18 refugees who were drowning near the coast of the Lesbos island, Greece. Then they both faced charges of smuggling, espionage, money laundering and participation in criminal organisation and were arrested. After 107 days in jail, they were released on bail, but the charges have not been dropped yet. This happened in the latter half of 2018.. Even after all this, Sara has said with conviction that she’ll continue her work for refugees with more vigour and enthusiasm than ever before. This is the power of human courage.
We need to ask questions. We need to raise voices everyday. We need to ensure that a journalist doesn’t get killed in front of her house in one of the most developed cities of the world’s largest democracy. Yes, the reality check in our country is very shallow. Gauri Lankesh stood in front of a bullet and the country couldn’t save her. We must know these people who have stood up for just basic human rights. We must understand that when a person commits murder, its a henial crime, a grave offence and needs to be punished seriously, but when the state instigates or orders human rights abuse, discrimination, riots, killings, it sets a ground for an undemocratic, anti-human and totalitarian rule which is against the basic philosophy of life, liberty and progress.
When we talk about human rights and the right to liberty, the conflict in Kashmir, India and its complexity leaves us baffled to the core. What was the actual basis of the armed rebellion? Why did a bright and dynamic engineer take up arms to join the militants? Similarly, Why the million marginalised communities in India had to fight against the state to retain their land or may be had to give up their lives for their land as we have witnessed in Singur and Nandigram, West Bengal? Why do gender activists and the LGBTQ communities face such bullying, torture, violence, discrimination across the world? When we’ll be able to answer these questions, we’ll have a beautiful world.
Till then, we leave you with one last question, why does a musician have to give up her life for the freedom to sing? The revolutionary Turkish musician, Helin Bolek, died on 3rd April, 2020 after a hunger strike for 288 days to protest against a government ban on her band ‘Yorum’. The band was well known for protest and anti-establishment songs. In our so called progressive modern world a 28 year old musician dies fighting the system of undemocratic, totalitarian, anti-human and extremist ways of governance not only in her country but all across the globe. Remembering Bob Dylan’s famous lines,
“How many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
How many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind”
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