Over the past century, there has been a dramatic increase in the victimization of minorities. Though minority rights have been recognized internationally, such as in the United Nations Minority Declaration, they have also been nationally acknowledged in countries like France, India, Pakistan, etc. The implementation of these rights is still a question mark in these countries. It is apparent that we can not ensure all the rights of minorities. However, we can at least eradicate the oppression, injustice, and violence against them.
“Human Rights are not a privilege considered by the government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity.”
Normally, everybody, regardless of majority or minority group, has inherent rights because nobody is born a slave to others. Everyone is born free and leaves this world alone. Even animals are not the property of humans. Therefore, how can a human suppress another human when they are all genetically identical? The difference is not in the biological makeup of humans but in their sociological makeup. The structure of society is based on heterogeneity due to the diversity of culture, religion, and different opinions, which definitely leads to chaotic circumstances due to anarchy and self-interest (realistic perspective), because materials are limited and needs are unlimited, and the people who are in the majority are likely to have an advantage because they are in the majority.
Francesco Capotorti rightly defined the minorities as “A group numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a state, in a non-dominant population”-Article 27 ICCDR (1979). Accordingly, minority rights do not disregard the rights of other individuals, but rather protect them from subjugation, (in the Turkish Constitution, which protects minorities) and guarantee tranquility within the state. This approach can be known as “positive discrimination.” Because “all people are equal in dignity and rights” UDHR Article 1.
Most arguably, the issue with minority rights is that even after being universally recognized, minorities are still suppressed. For instance, the South Sudan Civil War, which broke out right after two years of independence, was provoked by the ethnicity of minorities. Moreover, ethnic issues towards minorities were a major reason for the independence of East Timor from Indonesia. Currently, in America, the ineffectiveness of government led to the infringement of black people’s rights (George Floyd). The union of states got disturbed, and again, minorities were oppressed, due to anarchical order, which is still present because of anomie or normless society, ( Emile Durkheim).
Minorities do not just refer to religious minorities. However, people are also discriminated against due to their disability or sexual orientation, such as gay men, lesbians, transgender people, etc.
In Pakistan, people with physical disabilities have been victimized and neglected for decades. It was a time when transgender people were not entitled to have a NADRA card, which means they were not recognized as Pakistani citizens. Despite the existence of the Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities, this issue is still unresolved completely in our society. As far as the religious minorities are concerned, the 2nd amendment, has not only declared Ahmadis as non-Muslims, but also prohibited them from acting like a Muslim. For this, there is punishment for them as per PPC 298, which is again a discrimination and violation of their right to profess religion (Article 20 of the Constitution of Pakistan). Recently, on the 3rd of January 2021, 11 people of Hazara Minority Community were killed, and was also condemned by Imran Khan as inhumane act of terrorism.
It is important to not that not only Constitution but also the state religion Islam indicates about equality (Article 25) and this statement below from the Last Sermon of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) clearly neglects discrimination, either majority or minority.
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety (taqwa) and good action.”
-Last Sermon of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
However, violations of minority rights (ethnicity) are constantly witnessed in Indian Occupied Kashmir, where India has become a colonizer rather than an administrator. Interestingly, countries with a strong economy are actually violating international law and subjugating their minorities, and no one seems to mind since, in the end, self-interest is paramount. It is a fact that violation of minority rights is violation of humanity, because every human right is concerned with minority rights. When a human being is oppressed, it diminished all rights (Holocaust). For instance, in the SAS v France case, where a claim was filed based on a “ban on face covering”, under Article 8 (private life), 9 (religion, thought, conscience), 10 (expression), and 14 (discrimination). However, France used the “living together” argument in its defense. It could be argued that face covering is not a hindrance to living together. Nevertheless, it upholds ethnocentrism, which ultimately leads to the diminishing of cultures in the end. The same oppression of face covering was brought by Berlin and Austria, and even at present time, the Swiss ban on face covering (March-2021). Similarly, the Swiss Minatare banned constructing mosques with minarets in 2009. This idea affects minorities’ identity and creates a sense of xenocentrism in the new generation of minorities.
This classification also generates social stratification, and neglects cultural relativism. It could be argued here that the concept of freewill is only an illusion. Because this right has thousands of other rights. Apart from that, LGBT rights around the world and international recognition of minority rights are some positive examples of how minorities are not always oppressed.
The possible solution to this issue is to recognize the minority not only as a minority, but as human beings, because before the minority, they are human and are entitled to human rights. There is domestic protection for HR (Article 25, 33 in Pakistan or the Turkish Constitution), as well as International Protection, International Human Rights Law, International Criminal Law, insurance of peace and stability and cultural heritage. Similarly, the right to self-determination belongs to indigenous peoples (UN declaration). Accordingly, Article 1-2 UDHR, the UN Declarations on Minority Rights, the Human Council, and the ICJ, these are all solutions for minority protection which have been developed with an incremental approach.
In conclusion, minorities still face discrimination, despite the fact that their rights are recognized domestically and internationally. The root cause of this issue is anarchical order, where ruthless power seeking is common, because of self-interest (Machiavelli- realistic perspective). No doubt, no society is perfect, however, people surrender their freedom to the government, so that the government ensures peace in the country, and to avoid sectarian conflicts. Preserving human rights for minorities is not only for them but also for a peaceful world too. Everyone wants to have power and to be dominated over others. In this chaotic situation, it’s the prime responsibility of the state to balance its local masses for the tranquility of the state and its citizens, because Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
 The Second Amendment to the Constitution of Pakistan, http://www.pakistani.org/pakistan/constitution/amendments/2amendment.html , <accessed on May 05,2021>
 Pakistan Penal Code, Section 298, http://www.pakistani.org/pakistan/legislation/1860/actXLVof1860.html <accessed on May 19,2021>
 DW News, Pakistan: Gunmen kill 11 minority Hazara coal miners in Baluchistan, https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.dw.com/en/pakistan-gunmen-kill-11-minority-hazara-coal-miners-in-baluchistan/a-56119522 <accessed on May 20, 2021>
The writer is a Third-Year law student at ZFL
Email: [email protected]
Published in ZU-BLAWGS, October 4, 2021