By Ann Norman
As the executive director of a Thai human rights organization based in the US, I am finding it hard to worry about Thai human rights right now because of bigger human rights disasters underway in 1) a country neighboring Thailand (on ongoing genocide in Myanmar) and 2) right here at home (the possible expulsion of the Dreamers). I need to talk about these things or give up my claim to care about human rights.
When it comes to human rights principles, the first Article of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights will get you pretty far:
Article 1. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
And Article 2, then clarifies that “EVERYONE is entitled to the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration” without exceptions for “race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belong . . .” [emphasis mine].
Two days before the fighting and the burning of whole Rohingya villages and the mass exodous of Rohingya women and children to Banglasdesh (which, by the way, is currently experiencing catastrophic flooding!), I read the results of a UN study on the Rohingya problem, the Final Report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State. I read almost the whole thing. It outlined the difficult problem and recommended first steps forward based on human rights principles. But the recommendations came too late for the Rohingya, “The most persecuted people on Earth.” Fighting broke out and Rohingya villages were burned to the ground with survivors fleeing with only the clothes on their backs. Continue reading