Target: Government of Kashmir, India
Goal: Establish human rights classes at schools and universities to protect citizens from exploitation
In the United States we accept human rights as a basic principle. We in America are able to defend ourselves against possible human rights violations and civil liberties’ encroachment based on the fundamental understanding we have about human rights. We are armed with education and knowledge. It is shocking, then, that the concept of innate human rights is not universal, and the education about these rights is such a luxury in other parts of the world. In Kashmir, human rights education is non-existent. There is no formal training in the area of human rights, or in recognizing violations of these rights, and no college, university or other such educational institution offers classes on the subject—an unacceptable situation.
As described in detail in an article by the Inter Press Service, the lack of human rights education is disconcerting, and leaves the public vulnerable to exploitation. There have been a few failed attempts at establishing human rights education, but nothing has gained traction so far. Noticing the great need for human rights training, Dr. Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a human rights expert working for the Law Department at the University of Kashmir, worked to get a course on the curriculum. In 2003, a human rights course was implemented at the University of Kashmir, but after two years the government pulled its funding and by 2009 the course was completely shut down.
Interestingly, although the administration declares otherwise, there is a widely-held belief that the course was shut down in order to oppress human rights throughout the region. “The shutting down of the course came soon after [political unrest] in 2009. It was simply to ensure that people do not get empowered [through awareness] of human rights,” a government official told the Inter Press Service.
In a country like Kashmir, with a legacy of violence and civil unrest, the government is resorting to keeping citizens ignorant in order to keep them in line. Since 1989, Kashmir has experienced wave upon wave of human rights violations—massacres, enforced kidnappings, killing of youth. And the situation only grows worse.
The students enrolled in the human rights course were learning about these violations, searching for the truth and digging up information that reflected very poorly on the government of Kashmir. This is why, among other things, there is a huge void where human rights education should be.
In order to protect the citizens of Kashmir, sufficient human rights education needs to be available. Demand the reinstatement of the human rights courses at the University of Kashmir, and the implementation of similar courses throughout the country. Sign below to petition for this change.
Dear Government of Kashmir,
It is no secret that your country’s recent history has been marred by civil unrest and violence. Countless violations of human rights have occurred, and yet the people of Kashmir remain in the dark. Due to the deplorable lack of human rights education, citizens of your country are ignorant about their rights and thus easily exploited.
This is not acceptable. It is the duty of a governing body to protect the interests of the greater good, not submit them to crimes against humanity.
It is in the best interest of Kashmir and its people to reinstate the human rights course at the University of Kashmir. Other, similar classes should be made available to the public as well. It is time to empower the people of Kashmir, not oppress them.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: C. Frank Starmer via Duke NUS Website