The Many Faces of Human Rights

The sanctions weapon has long been used by the United States and other Western nations on others which reportedly engage in human rights abuses. But since it's inception in 1948 by the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been ignored by the very same Western countries that claim to champion it.

When monitoring international affairs, one can easily see that today's superpower, the United States of America, claims to ally only with those countries that respect human rights. Its government has been critical of human rights abuses in Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, and to some extent, China.

In some cases, the US state department goes to great heights to portray these countries as being run by villains and forceful regimes that have no respect for human rights.

But in reality, the United States has allied itself with regimes that are oppressive and violate every tenet of universal human rights. It is a well-known fact that Turkey oppresses those who chose to adhere to some form of religious identity, mostly Islamic. There are reported to be thousands of cases where females were expelled from colleges because they chose to wear the headscarf out of modesty. Yet there are other cases where established careers were destroyed due to the fact that they did not attend parties with their wives nor did they indulge themselves in alcohol. And yet there are cases where "democratically" elected officials were forced to resign because they prayed and/or questioned the country's militant secular policies.

With such a poor record of human rights in Turkey, one would expect that America would encourage Turkey to allow religious freedom. But instead, there is great prosperity between Turkey and America and neither the state department, nor any representative of the US government for that matter, has been known to admonish Turkey for its oppressive policies.

In fact, Alan Larson, assistant secretary of economic and business affairs for the US government recently celebrated the cozy relationship between the two nations.

"The United States values highly its relationship with Turkey -- including Turkey's role as a NATO ally and reliable partner among the world's democracies. Increasingly, our relationship is becoming deeper and more complex as we build on our traditional security relationship by expanding economic cooperation. We value the enhanced economic dialogue that has been under way since the October Joint Economic Commission meeting," he said.

One can and should certainly question the legitimacy of "Universal Declaration of Human Rights". It is becoming more and more obvious that this declaration is used by the powers of the world as a means by which to achieve their national interests. Thus one should question the legitimacy of "Declaration of Human Rights" and the West's sole right to the authorship of such declarations. If we do not question and challenge such declarations then not only will we be marginalized, but we will become the victims of West's incapability to handle mankind's affairs.


Mostansar Virk is a Muslim activist and guest columnist for

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