Celebrate Freedom, Don’t Oppress It!

It goes without saying, that we live in a much better world now compared to 70 or 80 years ago. We have scientifically more freedom (not ‘rights’, because these are inherited by our nature as human beings), better health care, faster and more reliable communication methods. I do realise that we could argue the opposite, but that is another topic.  

Generally speaking, we are more advantageous in terms of practicing our freedom, or at least we are entitled to by the law, society, and technology advancement.  

The entire calendar year is full of days to celebrate and commemorate significant events. To name a few; the 2nd December, the International Day for Abolition of Slavery; 8th March, International Women’s Day; or for instance, yesterday (19th August), we celebrated the International Humanitarian Day! A day that remarks and “advocates for the safety and security of humanitarian aid workers, and for the survival, well-being and dignity of people affected by crises.”

The reason we have such international days, or national days, is to celebrate human movements in advancing the way we live our lives today. We celebrate the souls that sacrificed themselves for what is ‘right’ for the human race.  

Today women in the UK have the right to vote! Can we imagine the situation today if the Women’s Suffrage movement did not exist, established, or continued to fight for the right for women to vote? 

Would women be given the right to vote if no woman rose and claimed that right?  

Would women in the so-called Saudi be allowed ‘legally’ to drive if women activists such as Loujain al-Hathloul did not speak loudly for that right to be claimed?     

I have always believed that ‘rights’ are taken and never given. You cannot ask for what is yours, but you can always ‘claim’ it, if you dare! 

Now, imagine this! If we took our rights today for granted, if we turned a blind eye on every human rights violation (nationally and internationally) what would happen?  

Turn around you and look at the world today, human rights oppression is expanding again and we are doing little to stop or even speak against. Certain topics became a red line for us to discuss and the common response we see is a head shake in disapproval.  

Don’t get me wrong, I am guilty of the above as much as everyone else and when I speak of change, I am starting with myself first. But I only have one request, that you don’t look at yourself as an individual whose actions are less of an impact to the world around you. Do not think you are a small stone that cannot stop the immense waves.     

This is the rhythm of life; it never stays on one way or the other and change happens rapidly leaving us the freedom to choose! The choice whether to be a random object and be washed by the tremendous waves of life, or be a standing mountain together and change the direction of waves to what suits us as a human race in unity. 

Our unity, empowerment to each other, and compassion is the key to an even better world for our next generations.

Celebrate your freedom! Do not oppress it! 

Random Thoughts Series: “Forgiveness!”

A man saw a snake burning to death, so he reached with his hand to help the snake out of the fire. The snake bit the man causing the man to drop the snake which fell right back into the fire. The man then reached with a stick to get the snake out of the fire again and saved its life.  

Someone who was watching that happening questioned the man and said “the snake bit you, and you could’ve just let it burn!” the man then replied “It’s the nature of the snake to bite, but that’s not going to change my nature, which is to help!” 

Many of us and at some point in our lives go through some difficult times, we get hurt or (God forbid) someone else gets hurt by us, our words, or actions.  

The way we deal with these emotions varies from a person to the other. But, do we ever forgive? Do we completely move on? When we leave these situations, do we leave the past completely behind us? Or do the negative emotions come back to haunt us every once in a while? 

It is completely understandable, in my opinion, that sometimes it is hard to completely forgive those who hurt us. And, equally reasonable to have the negative feelings visiting again. At the same time, a negative feeling is a negative feeling, that only impacts the person holding on to it. 

In my belief, we don’t ‘get over’ someone or over the fact that we got hurt. But if we are lucky and strong enough, we adapt to that feeling and learn to channel our energy and emotions to appreciate every good moment in our lives. We learn to trust again, and most importantly to trust in ourselves.    

Life is full of ups and downs, sometimes downs more than ups, but living it trapped in the past and its miserable emotions will only waste the time of our present and delay the brilliant future we meant to have.  

There are no guarantees in life that we shall never get hurt again. We need to accept that risk in everything we take, merely because we have confidence in ourselves that we are capable of dealing with every situation we go through, good or bad, in the best way possible. 

Being hurt should not impact our present life, and if it does then we should learn gradually to release ourselves from that pain. Having said that, we need our time to heal and we can definitely do that while going about our lives and growing.  

As a self-defence mechanism, we might choose to lock our hearts and emotions in a bulletproof box and throw it in the deepest oceans (where probably we are going to hire a mythical beast or two!!) But think of the endless possibilities of happiness that our fate is holding for us.  

Take your time in healing and if you are lucky to have people around you that will be more than willing to lend an ear that listens, a shoulder to cry on, or deep hearted and honest pep talk with no single judgment, then give them the chance to be there for you!  

Life is all about give and take, and endless amazing possibilities that would be of a great shame to miss!  

Search for that positive self within you and you shall see how incredible it is what you could do and achieve if you channel your energy correctly. Love yourself with all your flaws and learn to accept that the past belongs to the past. And all those who hurt you, intentionally or unintentionally, belong there too.  

And just out of curiosity, what mythical beast would you choose??   

War as a Conflict Resolution!

“The War to End all Wars” a term used to describe World War I, in the hope that it will indeed inspire mankind, by observing the scale of atrocities caused during the war, to never use war as a way of resolving any political conflict. (for a greater reflect on this point see this article). 

Was that vision correct? Arguably and evidentially it wasn’t! 

Many wars did follow; starting by the WWII and until our present time, with more than 10 ongoing armed conflicts and civil wars. To name a few; the war in Afghanistan, war in Yemen, war in Syria, the conflict in Myanmar, conflict in Nigeria, conflict in the occupied Palestine, and the list goes on. 

Some of these wars, and armed conflicts, have been given more highlight and attention globally. This goes back to the fact that global media focuses, understandably and so ununderstandably at the same time, on the areas where the conflict will more likely have an impact on the main global powers. 

Going back to my main question here; is war the right way to end any of these conflicts? Can violence be demolished by violence? Have we not learned anything from the atrocities of the two world wars, the wars before that and the wars that followed?  

Looking at the advancement of military weapons (chemical, biological, atomic, … etc) will only show us that mankind does not intend to end war, instead a speedily progressive industry was created for war.  

To be realistic, I do not believe that diplomatic negotiations will always work their magic. I believe, bitterly, that both soft powers and hard powers are in need to solve armed conflicts and based on the type of conflict and the gravity of human loses. (for more on soft and hard powers see here.) 

 But who gets to determine when a military intervention is acceptable? And at what point?  

International law provides a layout of these conditions;  

 Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter prohibits the use of force “against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state” and that any dispute between any of the states to be resolved in a peaceful manner, Article 2 (3). In addition, states should respect other states’ decisions that affect their internal affairs, Article 2(7).  

The UN Charter gives two scenarios where the rule of non-intervention does not apply; in case of self-defence or where the international peace and security needs to be restored, (Articles 51 and 42 respectively). 

This remains ambiguous as to what is considered a breach of ‘international peace and security’. Does the targeting of innocent civilians in a given state shakes that international peace? Or would the mass-killing of a protected group, that is arguably classified as a genocide under international law (in particular Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide), by their own government be considered an internal affair? What is ‘international peace and security’ and where do these borders lay?  

In my opinion, this is determined on the ‘global’ interest that unfortunately have neglected the interest of the lost lives of innocent civilians. The so-called international peace and security is not threatened if the atrocities are contained within a given area and where arm sales are making the stokes’ market alive!  

In an ideal world, war would never exist in the first place to be solved by another war. But in our world, wars do exist and they will remain because of our human hunger to power in its all kinds and types (economical, political, religious etc). But will war always be the way to end a war?

Where all I can see is further advancement of arm weapon technology and competition over arm deals, the true success of war to end war remains a mystery to me! 

*Tell me your thoughts on this. Is war and armed intervention an effective way to end armed conflict and wars? *  

The Fault in Our Human Rights

How many times have you thought about your human rights? Or questioned whether they have been, or are, violated?  

How many times did you wake up thinking about the day ahead fearing that you will be subjected to an arbitrary arrest because of your last night’s political discussion you had with one of your colleagues at work; or when you foolishly complained about your president’s decision of raising the income taxes imposed only on you and those who belong to the working class?  

Chances are, if you were in a state governed by the rule of law, or so it’s called, you have no such fear whatsoever!

On the other hand, if you were a citizen of the same democratic state, how many times have you thought of your right? Let’s say, your right to political participation (ie. Voting right or political freedom)?  

The other day, I had a conversation with a stranger on the train (British citizen in her mid 20’s) and our conversation took a turn after we spoke about life (nothing political, I won’t risk an arbitrary arrest!!).

I told her about my studies etc and how I want to pursue a career in human rights? Her response was “what is that? You mean human resources?” Mind you, I was shocked to a degree I stopped for a minute to recap.  

Maybe I shouldn’t be so shocked because I was familiar with the fact that ‘human rights’ is a complex term, though from the surface it seems the opposite.

But it is not easy! Human rights as a term never was and never will be easy or simple. You need to take one look at your current news feed and you will see what I mean by saying that.

This is because people die on a daily basis fighting for their human rights and dignity. They are willing to leave their homes, risk their lives and protest to claim their human rights. So, it could never be an easy term and maybe we should never treat it as one. 

 So, when we reach the point of taking the protection of our human rights for granted, then we need to be alert. When such a term becomes a foreign term to some of us, like my lovely friend on the train, then it is time we should start to worry as to where we are heading as a global society.   

Take for instance the percentage of voter turnout in two European states; in the UK’s 2017 general elections the turnout percentage was %68.7. And it has not gone above %83.9 since the 1950’s election.  

Similarly, in the 2017 French presidential elections %67.9 was the turnout percentage which was pronounced to be the “worst turnout in modern history.   

The highest voter turnout in our modern history is %87.2, in Belgium’s 2014 elections.    

Now, you might think that remains a good percentage, but the deep question here is what is the reason behind our human rights not to be used to their full potential?  

The point I am trying to make is, that it seems that once a society had successfully obtained the democratic status thereafter comes the tendency for us taking them for granted. I am not being an idealistic here or trying to build a Platonic World of sort (although it might not be a bad idea to do so), but it is such a shame to see one of the crucial human rights left unused by some, and this is a mere example! Because it is this point in time where political corruption increases, and consequently the threat to our human rights.   

So tomorrow when you wake up ask yourself “which of my human rights will be violated today?” just in case! 

*What are your thoughts? Looking forward to reading your comments*

Intro

Hello and welcome to my blog! 

In this blog I aim to reflect on current human rights issues (spoiled for choice? I know!!) I do not intend to make matters complicated more than they are, rather I like to reflect in simplicity. Yet, I won’t promise that it will always be the case.

Human Rights is a very crucial topic to our day-to-day life, yet you will be surprised how many of us out there know little about them. In some (so-called) democratic states, they are taken for granted and not used to their full potential. In other parts of the world they remain a dream, a fantasy, a cause that people fight for (come on you don’t need me to tell you about this, Right?). 

My passion for the human rights field in general, perhaps, comes from my own background as a Middle Eastern female that had seen some of the awful consequences of speaking one’s mind outload in one of the most undemocratic states on our planet, Saudi Arabia. (I will talk about this in a feature post. I promise!!)  

After long contemplation, I thought “why not share my passion for this topic with likeminded people and expand the discussion as much as possible?” And so here we are! 

In this blog I will also write on our daily social life and some of my random thoughts that I hope you find interesting. I aim to post frequently on a week to week basis, so keep an eye and subscribe if you wish to be updated. 

So, go on have a read and share your thoughts. Any constructive criticism is always welcome! 

Many thanks for your time, 

Shrooq