HUman Rights Day Celebration in Gaza?
It was Dec 10, 1948 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Today this document is the most widely translated and perhaps the most referenced.
And as the international community and media around the world eagerly await the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR,) some communities still remain under the boots of domination and oppression. And no modern community has suffered more than the people of Palestine . This suffering has gotten worse since the Palestinian people exercised their democratic right and overwhelmingly elected Hamas– an entity that both Israel and the U.S. consider a terrorist organization– as its legitimate representative in January 2006.
In his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, documents horrific accounts that began with systematic extermination of villagers that continue today mainly by way of inhumane treatment, uprooting of communities for land grab, and economic strangulation. And as a result of a sustained media blackout, most of the world remains misinformed or woefully ignorant about the miserable condition in which the Palestinian people, especially in Gaza , live.
Some global leaders and Nobel Peace Prize laureates such as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have, in one way or another, condemned Israel ’s treatment of the Palestinian people.
“The world is witnessing a terrible human rights crime in Gaza , where a million and a half human beings are being imprisoned with almost no access to the outside world. An entire population is being brutally punished,” wrote Carter in an article published by the Guardian newspaper. The world “must not stand idle while innocent people are treated cruelly,” said Carter. “It is time for strong voices in Europe, the US , Israel and elsewhere to speak out and condemn the human rights tragedy that has befallen the Palestinian people,” he added.
Carter was accused of anti-Semitism for comparing the Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people to that of the old Apartheid system of South Africa in his book Palestine : Peace not Apartheid. However, he was neither the first nor the last high profile leader to make that comparison.
Buried through the pages of history are the words of Mandela when he, On Dec 4, 1997, in a speech delivered during the commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People said “… the UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.
Moreover, Tutu, as a special UN envoy that led a fact-finding mission to Gaza last May, described what he witnessed as a “gross violation of human rights” that is contrary to the teachings of Holy Scripture. Depicting the daunting impact of the economic blockade, he said the Gaza strip was “forlorn, deserted, desolate and eerie place.” Furthermore, he talked about the children whose conditions are seldom covered in the evening news: “We were struck particularly by the absence of the sounds of children shrieking and playing.”