Makkalatchi Iyakkam (Lok Raj Sangathan) held a meeting on Human rights on the occasion of Human rights day, 2010. It was attended by activists from different walks of life who shared their experiences.
Thiru.T.S.Sankaran, Honourary President of Makkalatchi Iyakkam, welcoming the participants, pointed out that "Human Rights as a theme has had a hoary history but it was only in 1948 that it acquired an international flavor. On the 10th December 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was the initiative and persistence of the then Soviet Union that resulted in this happy outcome for humanity. The western powers were not very enthusiastic about this but ultimately the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration. Years later, the UN adopted two Covenants, one on civil and political rights and the other on economic, social and cultural rights, along with two other Protocols. Parallel to these can be seen the provisions in the Constitution of India, where, Part III deals with Fundamental Rights and Part IV deals with Directive Principles of State Policy. It must be pointed out that whereas the rights conferred in Part III are justiciable, those in Part IV are not. Broadly this means that the equivalent of economic, social and cultural rights are not justiciable."
"Sixty odd years have gone by since the Universal Declaration and the Constitution of India came into being, but the enjoyment of these rights has been denied to the bulk of the population of the world. Rights have been construed by States as privileges which the States can confer on chosen individuals or groups of people, which can be withdrawn as it suits the State; the same way, they can be for stipulated lengths of time. This is wholly against the modern concept of rights, which are inherently available to every human being as a member of the human society. It is not a commodity that can be given or denied at the whims and fancies of the State. We in Makkalatchi Iyakkam firmly believe in this modern definition and endeavour to spread this far and wide, so that every individual born to society (and not merely to his or her parents) enjoys these rights so that he/she can live as a dignified human being in society."
Following his speech, various activists from Makkalatchi Iyakkam, Kattida Thozhilar Panchayat Sangam, Fishermen’s association, Seashore people defense committee, Pennurimai Iyakkam and Workers spoke and shared their experiences and vision with respect to Human rights.
Speakers pointed out that the US and other European states have violated the basis human rights, right to life and sovereignty of people all over the world by their frequent aggressions and wars for domination and loot. They have also violated the rights of the workers and other toiling sections of people in their own countries, by denying them right to organize and right to conscience. The Soviet Union from late 1950s have followed the path of imperialism. Thus they also adopted the same methods to oppress people and deny them rights. It was pointed out that during the cold war period, US and Soviet Union and other imperialist powers interpreted rights in a narrow and self serving manner to advance their self interests at the cost of the others.
India has ratified the universal Declaration of Human Rights . However its implementation has been lagging behind due to its political system. Although India has passed various acts such as Right to education, food, employment, etc. they do exact opposite of what their titles imply. That is, the above Acts actually deny these rights to all the people as a matter of right of the rulers. Indian rulers have made them as privileges which they can give and take as they please.
It was pointed out that human rights belong to all, because of the fact that they are human beings. People are born to the society and society has obligations to defend and protect all the rights of all its people. Society must guarantee and provide right to life, food, education, health, employment to all its members without any exception. Thousands of years of rich Indian History and heritage show that our ancestors held human rights as inviolable. They considered that rights and duties go hand in hand. Specific conditions demand corresponding set of rights. When these rights are violated by authorities, it was the duty of the people to rise up and overthrow the authority and thus change conditions themselves.
Many speakers also pointed that the Indian government and the election process denies them the right to select and elect people of their choice, governance and justice. Workers are denied their right to form trade unions even in the most modern production centers such as Automobiles and IT sectors. Rights which were won over 100 years back such as 8 hours of work a day, fair wages, adequate rest and leave, etc. are being blatantly violated by big industrial houses and the government in their drive to ruthlessly exploit, maximize profits and advance globally. Similarly right to shelter and livelihood are denied to people when the government takes up massive projects and people are evicted from their lands and thrown out of their homes. Similarly women and children are denied their rights. People in north east and Kashmir are constantly attacked by Indian army and by black acts such as Armed Forces Special Powers Act which denies them rights.
Meeting ended accepting the suggestions from the activists and participants that we must hold more meetings and programs on human rights in various areas and discuss and build consciousness and organization among people.