Today is Human Rights Day. Theme of this year is, “20 Years Working for Your Rights”. It was in December 1993 the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) cre
ated the mandate of High Commissioner for the promotion and protection of all human rights. It has been 20 years since the mandate was provided by UNGA. UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, however, has cautioned conflicting parties of Bangladesh recently. Politicians are at risk of facing prosecution at the International Criminal Court if political violence further escalates.
A child was killed in political violence yesterday in Sirajganj. He is not the first victim though. In recent months, many children found themselves amid agitations or violence during shutdown hours and got hurt in explosions and arson attacks. On some occasions, unexploded bombs left here and there fell in the hands of children only to be blasted there injuring them. Most recently, a teenage boy died and at least 18 other people were burned after arsonists set fire to a passenger bus near Shishu Park in the capital Dhaka on November 28, 2013. The helpless victim namely, Nahid Mondol hailed from Shibchar in Madaripur.
On November 20, another boy of 18, namely Tofazzal Hossain had lost index, middle and ring fingers of his right hand in a blast. Two children including Tofazzal fell victim to an abandoned crude bomb explosion inside the civil aviation staff quarters in the capital’s Shaheen Bagh. His playmate, 10-year-old Lokman Hossain received splinters in the left hand. With the two, at least nine children were injured in explosions of abandoned crude bombs across the country in the last few months. Increasing use of crude bombs was noticed in the recent movement initiated by the opposition to protest against the government.
Extreme poor households are denied many basic rights due to non-stop blockade and political programmes. Those households usually live from hand-to-mouth and their sufferings know no bounds during continuous political campaigns of violent nature. They are compelled to spend away savings and often forced to rely on credit. Likelihood of sinking deep into poverty, therefore increases for extreme poor households.
Juveniles from poor households are often lured by conflicting political parties. As economic activities slow down during blockade, juveniles become easy prey of political hooligans. A number of children got hurt and some lost their valuable organs while they were involved in political campaigns violating their rights. Police on some occasions dealt with equal force resulting in death and injury of children.
Visiting UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernández Taranco is making his best effort to reconcile between conflicting parties. If his attempt fails, there would be more incidents of gross human rights violation. Right to life and other basic human rights are already threatened by escalating political violence.
Success of UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs is the prayer of Human Rights Day!
Oli Md. Abdullah Chowdhuy is a human rights worker.