Read Your Rights: Worldwide Reading of UDHR

Read Your Rights: Worldwide Reading of UDHR

The event was attended by noted civil society activists, human rights defenders, and development sector practitioners, the most prominent of them being Nasreen Azhar from Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

The UDHR document has been translated in over 500 countries which include at least 6 major languages of Pakistan. To reignite the spirit of the Declaration and to celebrate Pakistan’s cultural and linguistic diversity, the UDHR articles were read in major languages of Pakistan by: Zarrak Baloch in Balochi language followed by SafeerUllah Khan in Pashto, Tarique Siyal in Sindhi, Mushtaq Gaadi in Seraiki, Shazia Shaheen in Punjabi and, Uzma Yaqoob in Urdu.

While giving opening remarks, hbs Regional Coordinator Jacqueline Wilk said that Human Rights are being disrespected worldwide and recited    the poem, 'You Wait for Me With Dust' to commemorate Chinese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, who recently passed away in detention. 

The participants also had an engaged and interactive discussion on human rights situations across the globe in general, and Pakistan in particular. They stressed the need to revisit the UDHR articles and update it according to the current context besides getting it translated in other regional languages of Pakistan.

A key note speech on Human Rights was delivered by Nasreen Azhar who revisited the evolution of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights saying that rights enshrined in the Declaration were not being guaranteed in many states. She also mentioned the declaration and treaties that Pakistan has been a signatory of, signifying it to be a considerably progressive Muslim state in comparison to Saudi Arabia that boycotted the UDHR in 1948.

During the discussion that followed the keynote speech, the participants held common ground on the opinion that the translations were rather outdated in their language and style and the drafts should be revisited to make them more reader friendly and also to assure the accuracy on the translations. Furthermore, an important point raised by Forum For Dignity Initiative (FDI) Executive Director Uzma Yaqoob, was to redraft the the UDHR document in a gender-sensitive language in order to make it more inclusive.

Nusrat Zehra, a human rights activist, was of the view that it is crucial for the youth to have thorough know-how of the international treaties and covenants ratified by Pakistan, adding that the articles of UDHR should be incorporated in the school curriculum to ensure an enlightened generation that is well versed when it comes to their rights.

Safeerullah Khan, activist and dramatist, stressed the need for a dialogue between human rights activists/defenders and the State and seek guarantees and assurance to implement the international human rights treaties it has ratified in letter and spirit.