The National as well as international community around the world are increasingly realizing and acknowledging the role and contribution of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in strengthening the human rights regime throughout the globe. The NHRC considers the HRDs as its partner in the endeavour to fulfill its role as an institution for promotion and protection of rights of common man.
The NHRC understands that there are many security risks for human rights defenders and they have to tread a very risky and difficult path to perform their duties/tasks as a Human Rights Defender. The problems and harassment of the HRDs are in the knowledge of the NHRC and it has always made sincere efforts to ameliorate the problems. Measures like Focal Point for Human Rights Defenders, dedicated website space for HRDs and sensitization of functionaries of both state and non state actors, through workshops/trainings/seminars/meetings, have gone a long way in making the voice of the HRDs heard and restoration of their identity as promoter and protector of human rights.
The Commission believes that 9th December, which is the day when the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders was adopted by United Nations on 9 December 1998, be declared as Human Rights Defenders Day to acknowledge and pledge continued support to the HRDs who are working for the creation and sustenance of a rights aware and rights respecting civil society.
Declare 9 December as human rights defenders day
Dr. Lenin, a renowned human rights defender, demanded to declare 9 December (the Declaration on human rights defenders was adopted by United Nations on 9 December 1998) as human rights defenders day at a meeting of hundreds of human rights defenders, coming from different parts of the country, held at Paradkar Bhavan in Varanasi under the aegis of PVCHR (Peoples ‘Vigilance Committee on Human Rights) under European Union(EU) project on reducing the police torture of Muslim Minority , Research and Rehabilitation Centre on Torture(RCT) and Human Rights Defenders Alert. He announced the protection of human rights defenders as the need of the hour and stressed that the state cannot avoid its responsibility to take care of rights activists in the light of Article 2 of the Declaration on human rights defenders by United Nations.
Mr. Chitaranjan Singh, National Secretary of Peoples Union for Civil Liberty was also present at the meeting and presided over the meeting of human rights defenders. In his presidential address Mr. Singh demanded that National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) should strive for its independent investigating mechanism so that it could be able to conduct prompt, independent and impartial investigation into a case of rights violation. He shared his experiences at the meeting regarding his personal involvement into strenuous movement conducted for the establishment of State Human Rights Commission in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Many human rights defenders like Buddhi Narayan Toppo, a tribal young human rights defeders from Sonebhadra, Govidsharan from Allahabad, Mangal Singh from Mahoba, Parvez from Kaushambi, Sanjay singh from Jalaun, all victimised for their activities, were present at the meeting and submitted their testimonies before the gatherings, which made the occasion a sorrowful event. Budhiram Toppo was sent to jail in false cases, tortured and threatened to kill for working on the land rights and right to life of the tribal communities in Sonebhadra. Mr. Sanjay singh whose father late Lalla Singh was killed for their work of human rights was awarded with ‘Jan Mitra Samman’ at the occasion. Mr. Harishchandra alias Bhothu Musahar, a survivor of police torture, was also honoured at this occasion by offering him Rs. 5000 and a Shawl. However, at the same time it inspired the gathering of rights defenders to take the issue of violation of rights of rights defenders seriously and a call was made to involve civil society to intervene immediately and effectively.
Mr. Anil Parashar, joint registrar and focal point-Human Rights defenders of NHRC was also present in the meeting. He assured the rights defenders present at the meeting that NHRC is aware of the rights of them and it sends its recommendation to the Central and State governments regarding measures taken to protect the rights of the victims by means of compensation or taking action against the perpetrators. He also said that the annual reports of NHRC are sent to the Parliament as to discuss on the issue of human rights violations.
Mr. Sunil Sahasrabuddhe, a reputed Gandhian in the city and a rights activist said at the meeting that there was an important role of rights activists in the society but it is ironic that the human rights defenders have been facing hostilities for a long time. They are being harassed and implicated in false criminal cases. According to Mr. Sunil, the right to life of the people is getting bad to worse day by day.
At the meeting of nearly 260 Human Rights defenders of 45 organizations it was decided to convene a national level meeting on coming 9 December in Varanasi order to celebrate human rights defenders day and to raise awareness about the rights of human rights defenders.
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