Human Rights, those norms and moral principles that regulate and look through human behaviour with oneself, other humans and its interaction with the environment, which are validated by international law and recognised by the United Nations are being commemorated today on the International Human Rights Day.
Our history has witnessed the coldest wars where these rights were violated and exploited, but acts of generosity, empathy, truth and compassion have seemed to pave its way along our dynamic and permeable history. Even though we have seen truth triumph over the cycle of time, it would be erroneous for the world to proclaim that Human Rights is at peace, that it is not threatened, that it is not vulnerable. Today we bring to you five unforeseen stories which have recorded the worst Human Rights crisis in the world in recent history.
The Authoritarian Regime of Democratic Republic of Korea
North Korea is the world's largest communist and authoritative regime. The dictatorship in North Korea makes the country nothing less than barbaric when it comes to Human Rights and freedom. According to leading economists, the country’s impoverished state is to be partially blamed on the structure of human rights and the brutality of the Kim dictators. “There were so many desperate people on the streets crying for help that you had to shut off your heart or the pain would be too much. After a while you don’t care anymore, and that is what hell is like,” quotes Yeonmi Park , a North Korean defector and a human rights activist.
The division of Korea that resulted in the Korean War which concluded in 1950 gave rise to North Korea and South Korea, latter being a thriving democracy. So what makes North Korea the so-called hermit kingdom and hell on earth? Explaining in terms of Economics, the communist country has left people devoid of their basic necessities and resources. When run by an authoritative regime, everything from natural resources to private property is owned by the state.
Post enforcing this economic model, the Juche ideology was enforced, asking people to be self-reliant. This authoritarian regime forbids any sort of knowledge and education that might lead to people questioning the regime’s functioning, this is done by cutting off any foreign media and brainwashing to the extent of people believing that their thoughts can be heard by the supreme leader, the human rights come into place when executions and punishment in prison camps take place for crimes like watching south Korean or Hollywood movies.
People are so poor that the black markets thrive. Smuggling and trading are illegal and if anyone is caught doing either, they are executed or sent to re-education and political camps where civilians are tortured and starved. If a North Korean defector is arrested while fleeing or caught in refugee status in China, upto three generations of their families are executed. These are only a few examples of how devastating the condition of human rights and life is there. The horrors of the Hermit Kingdom are as real as living and breathing in North Korea.
Humanitarian crisis in Yemen
Yemen is a desert country on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, sharing its borders with Saudi Arabia. Yemen is currently witnessing one of the most brutal civil wars history has ever known. Iranian-backed rebels called the houthis have been taking on the government backed by Saudi Arabia. The latter supported by coalition of countries like UK, USA and UAE has been bombing Yemen since 2015, destroying most of its vital infrastructure.
The security forces in Yemen have been responsible for torture, inhumane behaviour and even extrajudicial executions. The country has been hit by a massive wave of poverty and starvation resulting in the spread of disease and malnutrition, impacting women and children the most. Although the Yemeni constitution stipulates equal rights for all the Yemeni citizens, women are still facing various constraints and struggling with secondary status. According to Unicef, 48.4% of Yemeni girls were married before the age of 18 recording one of the worst cases of child marriage in history. All the parties in Yemen have internal conflicts giving rise to international law violations, leaving the position of human rights extremely fickle.
The outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic turned the situation worse, as the global economy has suffered. Yemen, dependent on foreign aid, is at a downfall in terms of healthcare which was already a depleted sector. During such tightfisted and vulnerable times, any sort of political crimes were heavily sentenced and even executions were being carried out. Yemen's major source of water was ground water and its level has dropped, leaving citizens devoid of basic resources for farming, generation of electricity etc.
At this rate, the Yemenis consider basic education a luxury, leaving 80% of the population illiterate. Houthi forces use imprecise weapons recklessly, implanting landmines without authorization resulting in fatalities almost everyday. Freedom of expression is not a right but exactly the opposite of what a right gives a citizen, any free idea or view exchange by the media can lead to execution and this has happened to four journalists in 2020. The backbone of once the ‘ HAPPY ARABIA ‘ is on its way to collapse.
The Syrian Refugee Crisis
Since 2011, the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, which has lasted for the past 11 years has seen a humanitarian crisis beyond the comprehension of global politics. Before the war, there was mass public protest against the functioning of oppressive rulers that led to high rates of unemployment. Post the fall of Hafez, revolutionaries and citizens were dissatisfied by Bashar al Assad’s presidency and protests demanding Assad’s resignation erupted nationwide. This led the regime to take up arms to first defend themselves and then later to get rid of security forces which were claimed to be foreign-backed terrorism by the president. The violence led to hundreds of rebel groups to fight back and this descended into a civil war. Since then 380,000 people have lost their life, along with casualties like infrastructure destruction, poverty and illegal immigration on the refugee part.
The Syrian armed forces are responsible for unlawful killing including children, torture on civilians and hospital patients unable to pay for medical treatment, collective punishments were also practiced on rebellion groups and people committing political crimes, the authoritarian power has been called out for looting private property and resources along with systematic destruction. Arbitrary arrest has been happening on a massive scale along with enforced disappearances and kidnappings. Women and children who are kidnapped are either sexually assaulted or trafficked and sold for forced labour.
The Syrian refugees during the covid-19 pandemic have seen their worst life being laid right in front of their eyes. Due to economic depletion, not only countries who were refusing to give them refugee status but also countries which were accommodating Syrian civilians are now intolerant to them.
China’s Re-Education Camps
China is one of the world's most prosperous economies ruled by the Communist party of China. The world's most populous country is governed by a one-party system. However, the country’s ill treatment of its minorities is what catches the attention of human rights activists and international law. The Xinjiang camps are criticized for alleged human rights abuses like rape, torture, assault and execution. One of the most prominent genocide’s recorded is the Uyghrur genocide in these camps.
Uyghur is a Turkic minority which most of these camps are composed of. Due to this minority’s beliefs and their small contribution to the ethnic composition, they are sent to these camps to re-educate themselves, where the camp authorities use inhumane methods of torture to mould religious beleifs. This violates one of the major rights that is the right to practice one’s own belief. “Your daughter is a terrorist, one of the officers slammed on the phone,” revealed Gulbahar Haitiwaji, one of the survivors of the re-education camp.
If the survivors are given refugee status, it is never possible for them to return to their roots. The Chinese oppression is to an extent where the Uyghur minorities feel that their soul is dead. Women in these camps have been raped, sexually assaulted and tortured, and the covid-19 situation made the camos worse as no masks or basic covid protection was provided, not even Chinese officers and prisons guards had access to these facilities. Another horror that took place was forced sterilization, where women were turned infertile without their consent. The survivors still say that these are only a handful of horrors listed, as the one-party system regulates its media like how sunlight regulates daytime.
Nigerian oppression by Boko Haram
The Nigerian children are becoming the first victims due to the conflict between Boko Haram and the military. Many crimes are being committed by both sides of the party violating international human rights, leading to devastating and long-term consequences, the crime includes abduction of kids by Boko Haram forcing young boys to join military forces and girls are being victimised to sexual assault and are being married off hence increasing the number of child wives in the country. Boko Haram is an organization trying to enforce its own laws and changing the country into an Islamic state . A ghastly case of the chibok girls took place when 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram in which 112 are still missing.
Boko Haram keeps people in detention centres where they are tortured in inhumane ways like beating, rape and other unmentionable activities. Unlawful and arbitrary killings are practised by both the government and state actors. Degrading treatment of regular civilians by terrorist groups under the Boko Haram has been exercised at mass levels. Uncountable number of people were internally displaced, especially children and minors who were separated from their families. The authorities repressed rights such as the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and the freedom of movement. The criminal justice system has also seemingly collapsed.