Wrong stance on human rights

Today I will start with an analogy. A young couple just had their first child, they loved it more than words could describe. The child was physically- challenged. Doctors explained their son's condition. They were told that their son would grow up to be a normal person, if his parents subject him to painful and lengthy physiotherapy sessions.

The father, being a rational man, thought that this would be the right way to go about it, regardless of the difficulty involved. The mother, on the other hand, was unable to believe that there is something wrong with her son. She loved her son so much; to her he was the perfect son she always dreamt of. She was in total denial and refused to put her son through therapy. A part of her did not want to feel 'humiliated' in front of her peers who have healthy sons. She preferred to simply 'enjoy' the fact that she was blessed with a son. The longer the argument continued, and the older their son grew; the more difficult it would be to recover and become a normal person.

The child in this story represents Kuwait's human rights situation. The two parents represent two parties with two different approaches to the problem. Both love Kuwait, both want it to be better. The only difference is that one team wants the country to truly have a sparkling record in human rights, while the other team simply wants Kuwait to keep up a good 'image' concerning its human rights record.

There are NGOs, activists, and government officials who are concerned about the issue. Many are doing a lot to fight corruption, and to improve the lives of many underprivileged people who live in Kuwait.

At the same time, there are many people from all segments of society who think that convincing people that the human rights situation in Kuwait is alright, will be enough to set the record straight. These people prefer to fight against the whole world to prove that everything is ideal in Kuwait, rather than actually working towards turning the situation ideal in reality. These people are misled, and blinded by their love for their homeland – to the extent that it is actually harming the country.

You can't better the circumstance simply by saying that it looks good. I can't lay any more emphasis on this issue. This is probably the most popular misconception prevalent in this part of the world. The sooner we understand that, the better and easier it will be for everyone.

Instead of going to Switzerland to 'argue' for Kuwaiti human rights record, why don't we go there to learn how Kuwait can better its human rights record, and let facts argue for themselves. Stop grouping people into categories who have different levels of access to human rights. Stop discriminating against expats, bedoons, and other groups. Stop attempting to marginalize groups of Kuwaiti society by questioning their loyalty to their country. Stop violating human rights, and the country's record will improve automatically. In that case, we will not need to send a delegation to redefine human rights according to established norms.

Who knows, this might even turn out to be cheaper.

© Kuwait Times 2010

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