Human Rights in South Asia

Human rights are seen differently in the East and in the West, and apparently never the twain shall meet, despite the efforts of activists and organizations. In China, for example, such entities as the U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch suspect several human rights violations, including restriction of speech, movement, and religion. However, the Chinese government claims an improvement of human rights and actually argues for a broader definition, one that would include economic and social rights, in addition to political rights. Moreover, The International Federation for Justice in China groups non-governmental organizations, associations, and individuals to promote human rights in China, and denounce crimes and violations. They have the full support of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International, Global Human Rights Torch Relay and Falun Human Rights Working Group

Elsewhere, India’s status as a developing country and massive population, among other idiosyncratic factors, make for an even more complex canvas for human rights. Use of excessive force by the police and the caste system are among the many issues singled out by human rights organizations. Furthermore, the wide variety of religions found in the country, including Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Christianity, promotes hostile clashes between different groups that go beyond theology debates.

In many cases it is very difficult to assess the situation of human rights in a particular country, at least from the Western perspective, due to the secretive manner in which local matters are handled, and also because of the obvious differences in traditions and culture. A refreshing contrast is offered by South Korea, which human rights situation has markedly improved since the days of the dictatorship, and while still not perfect, the constitutional democracy has shown a growing regard for the rights of citizens.