Jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi, winner of the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize, shows the people of ‘democratic’ countries the way to fight for human rights, says OSWALD PEREIRA

Human rights are very important in a democracy. This sounds so basic and simple. In fact, every school child knows it. But it is in this very basic human aspect that many nations of the world are faltering, resulting in an end of democracy or one that is flawed and full of fault lines.

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity,” said Nelson Mandela. This again is such a simple, yet meaningful statement. When the ruling establishment doesn’t take this simple but inviolable human right seriously and rides roughshod over it, it rings the death-knell of democracy.

 “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What the great civil rights activist meant was that people in brother nations should be concerned about human rights violations in other countries. They should not choose to look the other way because it suits them.

The world is like one big ocean and the waves of injustice may soon reach our shores, if we do not guard our human rights and justice system. One nation’s regressive and oppressive human rights policies send shock waves throughout the world.

Narges Mohammadi (Pic courtesy: New York Times)

“It means a great deal to those who are oppressed to know that they are not alone,” said Desmond Tutu, South African civil rights activist. What he meant was that we as people of one universe should help each other when we are oppressed by our own people or governments.

All this sounds very good and uplifting, but does this really work? Do our brothers and sisters from other countries really come to our rescue when we are jailed wrongly in our own country?

If the world and the nations that constitute it are a mirror, the answer is clearly No! We have to fight for our own (human) rights in our own country.

Some wise men have said, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”

I believe, eternal vigilance cannot be outsourced. It has to come from within. Individually and collectively, we need to be vigilant, if we want to preserve our liberty, freedom and democracy. If we want to safeguard our human rights, we better fight our own battle for it.

It is heartening to know that is what many people are doing across the world, in so-called democratic nations.

And the good news is that in nations where democracy doesn’t really exist, people are fighting for human rights. Noteworthy among the human rights activists is the jailed Iranian activist Narges Mohammadi, who on October 6, was awarded the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize  “for her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all.”

Oswald Pereira

The 51-year-old activist is currently lodged in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where she is serving a 10-year sentence. Mohammadi, who has reported extensively about government abuse in Iran and organized protests and other forms of civil disobedience, said she would “continue her activism, even if that meant spending the rest of her life in prison,” the New York Times reported.

 “Standing alongside the brave mothers of Iran,” she said, “I will continue to fight against the relentless discrimination, tyranny and gender-based oppression by the oppressive religious government until the liberation of women.” Mohammadi is also the vice-director of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, a Tehran-based civil society organization.

Narges Mohammadi will surely be an inspiration for people from ‘democratic’ nations fighting for human rights.

Oswald Pereira, a senior journalist, has also written eight books, including The Newsroom Mafia, Chaddi Buddies, The Krishna-Christ Connexion, How to Create Miracles in Our Daily Life and Crime Patrol: The Most Thrilling Stories. Oswald is a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, and practises Kriya Yoga.

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