By Hameed Orayzi
Modern day mankind has passed through many centuries of bloodshed and sacrifice, reaching accomplishments that are not explicit to one particular country or nation, but belong to all walks of life and all peoples of any color, race, gender and religion. This is the right of life that we may take for granted today, but many have perished so we can now enjoy these rights. These rights are stipulated in all statements, charters and conventions, including the United Nations Charter and American Declaration of Independence.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights reads in Part III, Article 6:
Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In particular, no one shall be subjected without his free consent to medical or scientific experimentation.
Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.
The United Nations Charter describes the duty of all countries as to save lives:
…to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large andsmall, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom
One of these rights is the right to protection, named RtoP. In short RtoP says all people have the right to life and governments are obligated to respect this right, with these people being their own citizens or not. If a government cannot establish this protection, it is then the international community’s obligation to take action in this regard.
In most countries run by dictatorial governments, the state permits itself to carry out any act in aggression against people’s rights under the pretext of “sovereignty”. When the international community begins to protest, that state claims it has sovereignty rights. RtoP, adopted in 2005, stipulates a state cannot claim sovereignty to deprive people of their rights.
President Jakob Kellenberger on 24 November 2008 marked the 140th anniversary of the International Committee of the Red Cross foundation and said:
“It (ICRC) therefore remains to be seen how the applicability and implementation of the RtoP will develop in the near future, an issue that the ICRC will follow very closely.”
One of the examples of RtoP violations in recent years is the case of Iranian refugees in Iraq. These exiles, now numbering at nearly 3,000 with 1,000 being women, and many in their older years along with dozens suffering from illnesses such as cancer, have time and again come under military attacks conducted by the host government. Due to these attacks that are considered crime against humanity and trampling all international laws, conventions and resolutions, and of course RtoP, has to this day resulted in 118 of these refugees being killed and hundreds of others injured.
In 2012 these refugees were transferred to a camp near Baghdad International Airport under the supervision of the UN and US government under the pretext of being placed under more protection and to be transferred to third countries in a short period. Today, two years later, only a small number of them have been resettled, while at the same time they have been the targets of four, yes four, missile attacks. These vicious rocket barrages have left dozens of them killed and wounded, and the Iraqi government officially announcing it is not able to prevent such attacks. However, this very government has taken all protective T-walls out of this camp, is stonewalling the installation of a limited number of these T-walls that the residents have been willing to bring at their own expense to protect the completely vulnerable trailers in the face of missile attacks. All in all, this government is not only refusing to protect them based on RtoP, it has actually left all of them completely defenseless in the face of any type of killings and missile attacks.
Considering the experiences of the past two years and this fact being proven that the current Iraqi government has no capacity or competence to assume protection of these refugees, as stipulated by RtoP, it is now the obligation of the international community to assume step to the plate. These refugees, like all citizens of the world, have the God-given right to life with dignity and the right to protection.