Saturday, June 26, 2010

East Asia: Human Rights and Democracy

It is a fact that human Rights and democracy go hand in hand. A country cannot say that it is observing human rights if democracy is not instituted.

The cry for democracy and for action against human rights violations is common in East Asia, Japan, North and South Korea and China and Mongolia, Vietnam, Philippines, and the other South East Asian countries.


The question whether Human Rights and Democracy are being observed or not, particularly in these South East Asian countries, is sometimes in itself a big question mark.

Is democracy, as it was meant to be, observed in these countries?
Sometimes, the adaptation of democracy in these countries contains certain modifications which are made to fit in, into the desires of the people who run the government. In the same way that human rights are also modified into each and every constitution of that particular country.

The United Nations have established basic tenets on the Universal Human Rights, to protect the civil, political, economic, religious and social rights of individuals all over the world. They policed country members into granting equality to citizens in all phases of their lives.

In East Asia however, some of these rights are violated knowingly and unknowingly by the government personnel themselves or by certain individuals, without the knowledge of the government.

The most common violations in these countries are:

1. The right to peaceful assembly and expression

One very good example is when certain private companies explicitly include in their worker's contract a paragraph which states that they are not allowed to become members of organizations or to create organizations unless approved by the administration. This in itself is a violation of the right to expression and right to collective bargaining. The government knows this but is incapable of stepping in and interceding because these private companies contribute towards the country's economic development.

2. The right to education

This right is also often violated in these countries, especially in South East. This is because government is so corrupt, that instead of giving back the tax payer's money in the form of social services, they pocket it instead. The national budget therefore is cut drastically to adjust to this scenario. Education, health and the basic needs are not given sufficient funding. This then deprives citizens of the right to education.

In the Philippines alone, although the government is trying its best to repair old school buildings, provide more teachers, and improve basic education services; there are still children in the barrios who are denied this basic right, the right to education.

3. The right to Political affiliations

Sometimes, the cause of violence in some East Asian countries is because of politics. When the existing government is assailed by political adversaries, they are nabbed and charged of rebellion. Sometimes, they are even "salvaged" (political killings) just because they have a different political affiliation.


Several human rights violations are reported but it is difficult to investigate each one of them as each country has their own version of what human rights violation should be.

Indeed, the basic ground for human rights and democracy, in any part of the world, should be based on the dignity of the human person as a social being.

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