BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE
SadarghatRoad, Silchar-788001, Assam, India. Email: email@example.com
(A Human Rights Organisation registered vide No. RS/CA/3/61 of 2002-03 dated 1st October 2002)
Where there are human beings there are human rights. Human rights came in this world with the coming of the first group of human beings and will exist until the last group of human beings is not eliminated. These rights inhere in every human being by virtue of the only fact that he or she is a human being. Human rights are inalienable, inviolable and indivisible. Though they may not have been recognized technically as such by certain groups, or in certain times of history, or in some places the position of these rights remain all the same. The normative superiority of human rights can not be lowered by non-recognition or non-adherence. On the other hand, history shows that these rights were known to all peoples in all periods but in different names and forms such as natural rights, civil liberties or rights, rights of men etc. The term “human rights” is used for the first time in the Charter of United Nations in 1945. The present day concept of human rights can be described as those absolute rights which inhere equally in every human being by virtue of the fact that he or she is a human being and which are sine qua non for maintaining his or her inherent human dignity and worth and for developing his or her inherent faculty and personality. Human rights are both end unto themselves and means to establish and maintain peace and happiness in the world. As human civilization is ever changing so the concept of human rights is dynamic. Enumeration of human rights varies from time to time keeping pace with civilization.
Appalled by the gruesome devastation of the Second World War (1942-1946) and pressed by the International Human Rights Movement United Nations’ Genral Assembly proclaimed a Universal Declaration of Human Rights setting “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations” based upon which an International Human Rights Structure has evolved.
Members of international community have bound themselves for protection and promotion of human rights and prevention of their violations in a number of treaties and other instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966; the two Optional Protocols to the former; the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discriminations, 1965; the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discriminations Against Women, 1979; the United Nations Convention Against Torture, or Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1984; the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child, 1989 and many other such instruments. India is also the party to a number of such important treaties.
Fundamental human rights are also guaranteed in the Constitution of India and the Supreme Court and High Courts are made the custodians of these rights. There are other laws and mechanisms in India guaranteeing human rights enacted and constituted to fulfill its obligations under international law and treaties. One such legislation is the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, which encourages explicitly under section 12(i) the efforts of Non-Governmental Organisations in the field of human rights. Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) is such a non-profit organization.
In Article 3 of the constitution of BHRPC the area of operation is defined as “basically entire Barak Valley and if necessary beyond this area”. Barak Valley is the part of the globe which is located in southern part of the state of Assam in India where about four million people live mainly on agriculture. Almost 80% people of Barak Valley belong to Bengali speaking Hindu and Muslim communities and others are Manipuri Meitei and Bishnupriya, Jharkhandi (Sadani speaking) Hindi speaking people, Dimasa, Khasi-Pnar, Hmar, Riang etc. while Assam, or for that matter the entire North East India is populated by nearly 70 ethnic groups.
The land now known as Barak Valley was in part an independent kingdom known as Cachar before the British annexed it to the empire in 1832 and the rest was a part of Sylhet district of Bengal. The districts of Cachar and Sylhet along with Goalpara were appended to Assam in 1874. At the time of partition in 1947, following the referendum as to the question of joining India or Pakistan held in Sylhet, as per recommendations of the Radcliff Commission the area covering the jurisdiction of three police stations and half area of another police station of Sylhet district joined India and the district of Cachar was formed of four sub-divisions, namely, Cachar, Karimganj, Hailakandi and North Cachar Hills. Later on North Cachar Hills was curved out form Cachar and annexed with Mikir Hills. Subsequently in 1983 Karimganj and in 1993 Hailakandi were declared separate districts of Assam. Now Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts are known as Barak Valley for their relative geographical and cultural unity after the name of the main river of the area.
After a few years of the independence of India the ethnic groups of North East India, a region rich with cultural and geographical diversity, tended to slacken ties with each other and with the main land India. Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh were curved out from Assam and were made separate states. Though the cases of Manipur and Nagaland are slightly different, this politics of assertion and establishment of separate identity gave birth to the violent secessionist movements through the pangs of “Language Movement” of 1961 in Barak Valley, “Assam Movement” of seventies culminating in the Neelie Massacre of 1983 and resulting in formation and operation of various armed opposition groups turning the region into a conflict zone. The war field where the main casualties of the conflicts are security, justice, peace and human rights includes Barak Valley also. The valley being a free play ground of corruption, nepotism, political vested interests as well as illiteracy and poverty the human plight here got further worsened.
Establishment and Status:
It was in this context in 2002 that human rights activists of the valley came together for defending human rights and formed this Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (abbreviated as BHRPC) on 28 th June and was registered under the Societies Registration Act. 1860 vide No. RS/CA/3/61 of 2002-03 dated 1st October 2002.
The main objectives are (i) to promote and protect human rights and prevent their violations, (ii) to improve socio-economic situation and (iii) to work for democracy, secularism and world peace.
1.1 Activities aimed at promoting human rights include: (i) Projects of research and study of human rights law and situations and other related matters, (ii) Awareness generation campaigns through public meetings, lectures, seminars, symposiums, workshops, publications etc. (iii) Awards to, or felicitations of, the activists, journalists, authors and other outstanding contributors in the field and (iv) Cultural activities including drama, documentaries and other arts.
1.2 Activities aimed at protecting human rights include: (i) Monitoring and documentation of cases of violations, (ii) Reporting cases of violations to the appropriate forums for justice by way of legal action or otherwise (iii) Resorting to street actions if and when needed and (iv) Rendering services aimed at relief and rehabilitation of the victims including victims of man-made and natural disasters.
1.3 Activities aimed at preventing violation of human rights include: (i) taking measures for implementation of the existing laws, rules, guidelines etc., (ii) Examining drawbacks, lacuna and loopholes of laws and suggesting repeal, amendments and enactments (iii) Programmes to sensitize law enforcement and defence agencies and (iv) Maintenance of emergency help-lines.
Same activities may serve more than one purpose and as such fall under all three categories mentioned above. Here are some of such activities: (i) Custodial Justice Programme, (ii) National Human Rights Guidelines Awareness and Implementation Programme (iii) Right to Information Programme (iv) Free legal Aid and Services Programme, (v) Gender Justice Programme and (vi) Child Rights Programme.
2. Activities aimed at socio-economic development include: (i) Disaster Risk Management Programme, (ii) HIV / AIDS Awareness Campaign (iii) Environmental Awareness Campaign and (iv) Various development and service porgrammes.
3. All programmes and activities of BHRPC would be directed in such a way as they can contribute as much as possible towards securing justice, democracy, secularism and world peace. Besides, other exclusive programmes would be taken solely aiming at furthering the cause of democracy, secularism and peace.
In all programmes and activities of BHRPC creation and mobilization of public opinion is emphasized.
The Committee is comprised of six houses:
1.1. Auxiliary Body: Any person agreeing with the ideology, constitution and other rules and regulations of the organization and having interest in human rights can join the organization by joining first the Auxiliary body as Auxiliary Member.
1.2. Auxiliary Group: Whenever in a particular locality, at least five auxiliary members join BHRPC, and demand so, or situation demands so, as felt by the Executive Body, an Auxiliary Group may be formed with a convener. The group will act a de fecto primary unit of BHRPC.
2. Associates Body: Members of Auxiliary Body would be nominated to membership of the Associates Body by the Executive Body if and when the latter is satisfied as to the eligibility of the concerned member.
3. Advisory Body: The persons who are specialists / experts in particular fields if agree with the ideology, constitution and rules and regulations of the organization and have interest in human rights may be nominated by the Executive Body as members of the Advisory Body.
4. Board of Patrons: The persons who agree with the ideology, constitution and other rules and regulations of the organization and having interest in human rights but can not participate actively in the activities of the organization for various reasons may be nominated by the Executive Body as members of the Board of Patrons.
5. General Body: Members of Associates Body, Advisory Body and Board of Patrons would be nominated to the membership of the General Body by the Executive Body if and when the latter is satisfied as to the wish and eligibility of the concerned member.
6. Executive Body: The members of the Executive Body are chosen by the members of the General Body from amongst themselves.
There are some offices in the organization such as (i) The Chairperson, (ii) Vice-Chairperson, (iii) Secretary General, (iv) Joint Secretaries, (v) Secretaries with particular responsibilities and (vi) the Executive Members. These offices are held by the Executive Members as chosen by the members of the General Body. Other positions include Directors, Coordinators, Advisers, Representatives, Spokespersons, Monitors etc. which can be held by members of the Associates Body and other equivalent bodies as nominated by the Executive Body.
All activities and programmes of the organization are run by 8 divisions. The divisions work with close co-ordination with each other. They are:
1. Organisation Division: This division is responsible for all works related to organizational administration.
2. Education and Training Division: This division is responsible for running education centres and giving training to the members of the organization, members of the public and members of the various Government agencies by itself and/or in collaboration with other organisations, institutions and agencies..
3. Case Monitoring Division: This division monitors cases of violations, receives complaints, or institute suo moto complaints of violations, forwards them to the appropriate forums for redressal and pursues till the final disposition.
4. Fact Finding and Documentation Division: This division is responsible for fact-finding and documentation of a case of violation forwarded to it by the Case Monitoring Division.
5. Free Legal Aid and Services Division: This division runs “Workshop cum Counseling and Conciliation Centre” approved by the Assam State Legal Services Authority.
6. Projects and Programmes Division: This division adopts, manages and co-ordinates various projects and programmes of the organization.
7. Research and Study Division: This division is responsible for all works related to research and study of human rights law and situations and other related matters.
8. Information and Publication Division: This division disseminates information relating to BHRPC and other matters related to human rights through publications and responsible for public relations.
Past achievements of the organization include:
1. The term 'human rights' and its significance became more familiar to the people of the valley following many seminars, symposiums, public meetings, workshops, debates, interactive sessions, demonstrations, publications etc. conducted by the organization since its establishment. A drastic increase in recent days can be seen in the numbers of complaints regarding cases of violations filed by the victims and others with the organization, Assam Human Rights Commission and National Human Rights Commission which is indicative of greater awareness of the people. BHRPC received more than 150 complaints in the last year.
2. The organization has published folders and booklets containing Bengali translation (the local language) of (i) Universal Declaration of Human Rights, (ii) Provisions of the Legal Services Authority Act, 1988, (iii) Requirements of Arrest under D K Basu Case, (iv) NHRC Guidelines Regarding Arrest, (v) Dos and Don'ts regarding Solid Waste Management and (vi) The Supreme Court Judgment on Employment of Teachers on non-teaching duties and continues to distribute them free of cost among the public.
3. The organization maintains a 24 hours mobile helpline for the victims. A victim or anyone on his behalf can call at anytime on +919435989997 or +919854441275 or can e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
4. The organization has got the status district nodal NGO in Disaster Risk Management Programme from the district administration.
5. The organization has undertaken a research project titled “Freedom from Torture and Ill-treatment: Compatibility of Indian Law and Practice with International Human Rights Standards (Focusing on The North East)”.
6. The organization publishes a yearly magazine on human rights named ‘The Human Voice’ and a monthly e-news letter named ‘RightsNews’.
In the Days to Come:
BHRPC will expand its activities and networking both horizontally and vertically by continuing formation of Auxiliary Groups and nomination of Block Level Monitors of Human Rights in or out of Barak Valley and entering into networking and partnership with other similar minded organisations and institutions in points of mutual agrrement and interests in and out of the valley.
The organization has undertaken a project of translation (in Bengali) and publication of the International Bill of Human Rights and the organization is going to launch its own website. Besides, the organization is contemplating to start some other important programmes for working more conveniently in the area of i) Labour Rights, ii) Agricultural Awareness, iii) Right to Education, iv) Health Rights and v) Rights of Persons with Disabilitis.
Barak Human Rights Protection Committee will continue to fight for rights, justice, peace and truth with resilience and dynamism.
Published and printed by Bijaya Kor-Som, Director, Information and Publication Division, Barak Human Rights Protection Committee, Sadarghat Road, Silchar-1, Cachar, Assam, India on 03/12/07.
Sunday, 23 March 2008
BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE
BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE