Training Workshop of Democracy Support Council (DSC)

August 30 - 31 & September 1, 2013

ESTABLISHMENT OF DEMOCRACY SUPPORT COUNCIL

Centre for Human Rights Education-Lahore has initiated the establishment of Democracy Support Councils to support the democratic system and strengthen the roots of democracy in the society based on its principles and values.

The idea to establish DSC is to empower and engage the young cadre for the promotion of democratic values and provide them a platform where they can strive for democratic development and promotion of human rights through systematic and peaceful ways.

3 Day Training workshop of Democracy Support Council-South Punjab
The three day training workshop of Democracy Support Council-South Punjab was held on August 30th to September 1st 2013 at Pastoral Institute Multan under the auspices of Centre for Human Rights Education-Lahore. 36 participants from Multan, Khanewal, Bahawalpur and Muzaffargarh attended the training workshop.

1st Day August 30th 
Introductory Session
The introductory session began with a group exercise facilitated by Ms. Saima Ali and Mr. Shahzad Murtaza as the participants were divided into two circles, making them stand face to face, play music and asked the participants to spin round and assigned them that where ever music stop, asked the name and city of the person which came in front of you. During this activity, participants collected profiles of other participants, which they shared with the larger group. After that the introduction of Centre for Human Rights Education and the training workshop was presented while group rules were set up for three days.

 

Session on Human Rights: Concept, Principle, History, Culture, Standards and Mechanisms
Session on the Concept and Principle, History, Culture, Standards and Mechanisms of Human Rights was facilitated by Mr. Samson Salamat.

The session was started with question “What are human rights? and the trainees were asked to share their understanding about human rights. Different views were shared from the trainees.

After sharing trainees were divided into a circle and each one was asked to speak one right and the others were asked to repeat and add new right.

Afterward trainees were divided into different groups to brain storming on human rights and develop a definition and share with the larger group.

Mr. Samson Salamat explained that:-
Human rights are the rights which are possessed by every human being, irrespective of his or her
•  race, 
•  religion, 
•  sex etc 

Simply because she/he is a human being. Human rights are thus those rights which are inherent in our nature which we cannot live as human beings. Human Rights and fundamental freedoms allow us to fully develop and use our human qualities, our intelligence, our talents and our conscience and to satisfy our physical, spiritual and other needs.

Human Rights are rights which some hold to be “inalienable” and belonging to all humans, according to natural law. Whatever persons are called, or call themselves, wherever they live, they are human. Therefore human rights are those rights and freedoms to which people are entitled simply by virtue of being human. Human rights are based on mankind’s increasing demand for a better life in which the inherent dignity and worth of each human being will receive respect and protection.

Describing “Human Rights Concepts” Mr. Samson drew a circle on the white board and wrote Human Rights as the Nucleus of it. Hence the circle of human rights was populated by the rights and freedoms mentioned by the trainees.

Mr. Samson Salamat clarified about the following fundamental freedoms: 
• Freedom of Expression 
• Freedom of Assembly 
• Freedom of Association 

Mr. Samson explained that origin of human rights dates back to very early stages of human history. Most of the religions of the world speak about human rights.

Following we shall concentrate on the modern development of human rights firstly, within the state boundaries, then in international perspective.

Ancient History
The Code of Hammurabi 1700 BC
The Code of Hammurabi is a well-preserved Babylonian law code, dating back to 1700 BC.  It is one of the oldest writings of significant length in the world. The sixth Babylonian king, Hammurabi, enacted the Code which consists of 282 laws such as "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth“.

Edicts of Ashoka 272-231 BC
The „Edicts of Ashoka‟ issued by Ashoka the king of India between 272-231 BC. Asoka's edicts are mainly concerned with the reforms he instituted and the moral principles he recommended in his attempt to create a just and humane society.

Modern History
Magna Carta 1215
Magna Carta led to the rule of constitutional law today. Magna Carta influenced the development of the common law and many constitutional documents, such as the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Habeas Corpus 1679
Habeas Corpus is the primary means whereby an individual who is incarcerated can challenge the lawfulness of that detention. It has its origins in 14th Century in Britain but was formalized in 1679 with the Habeas Corpus Act. With the establishment of the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution a writ of Habeas Corpus became one of inalienable right.

The Communist Manifesto 1848 
The Communist Manifesto, originally titled Manifesto of the Communist Party is a short 1848 book written by the German Marxist political theorists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. It has since been recognized as one of the world's most influential political manuscripts Commissioned by the Communist League, it laid out the League's purposes and program. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism, rather than a prediction of communism's potential future forms.

Geneva Conventions 1864-1949
The Geneva Convention of 1864 was the first international law treaty governing the conduct of nations in war time, and so marks the origin of modern humanitarian and human rights law. The Convention created provision for the treatment of sick and wounded soldiers.

 

The United Charter 1945
The experience in the First World War resulted in the widespread conviction that effective international protection of human rights is an essential condition for international peace and progress. The UN Charter was signed by 51 Nations in the postwar climate of 1945. It established and international organization named “United Nations” dedicated to maintaining peace and security and to cooperation in solving economic, social, cultural and humanitarian problems.

There were also discussed the following principles of the human Rights.
• Equality
• Non-discrimination
• Inalienability
• Universality 
• Human Dignity
• Indivisibility
• Interdependency 

After that following International Human Rights Mechanisms were explained
• Universal Declaration of Human Rights
• International Covenant on Civil  and Political Rights
• International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Panel Discussion on Situation of Human Rights
A Panel discussion on situation of Human Rights was held to develop the understanding of participants on the current situation of human rights in the country.

Ms. Imrana Komal, a local journalist talked about women rights, particularly the situation of women rights in South Punjab which she considered very gloomy. The rights of women are being violated at different stages, even women can‟t express their opinion, she said.

Various types of violence are prevailing in our society like domestic violence, acid throwing, kidnapping
and rape cases. The ratio of women population is more than the men but despite that our society is male dominated society, in other words we can say that male consider that they have more rights as compared to women.  Despite all claims by the government, women have been denied their right to access to resources, to decision-making, and to their rights as equal citizens in society.

Imran Komal particularly talked about the effects of early child marriages saying that it is very sad that the community is unaware of consequences of early marriages. Early marriages are negatively affecting the individual, family, society and nation in a number of ways.

We have various laws for the protection and promotion of women rights but lacking with the implementation of these laws and especially our attitudes for promotion of women rights are very biased. There is lot of need to be done to change the minds of society and proper implementation of laws.

 

Mr. Hyacinth Peter shared that various ideal laws and policies for the protection of labor rights are existing in our society but there is no implementation. Here are various kinds of labor like brick kiln worker, factory worker, Crop Field worker etc. Different article of constitutions are against the bonded labor but still the ratio of violation of human rights is high.

The First Right of labor is freedom of selection of job that you can choice job by your own will and also leave it by your own will but unfortunately here is no such culture. Here is no proper mechanism of wages. We have law of 8 working hours with 1 hour lunch break but unfortunately there is no implementation of this law.

While talking about the child rights Mr. Peter shared that according to factory act the child below 14 years age is not eligible for job but the situation is opposite.

Dr. Kishwar Murad, a representative of Hindu Community said that we are living in very crucial time where the graph of respect of human rights is going down. As minority we are a facing lots of difficulties and discriminations. We are Pakistani and paying our best contribution for the development of country but despite that we are facing violent and biased attitudes from majority and in many cases considered as anti-Pakistan.

Unfortunately our leaders are not playing their active role for our rights and sometime they create problems for the fellows. But state also have dual polices for minority and majority. State gives the 5% job quote to minority which can‟t provide equal status of the minority group.

2nd Day August 31st 
The second day began with the recap of previous day presented by the Ms. Aqsa Fayyaz and Mr. Ahsan Ali while sessions were conducted on the concept of democracy and democracy in Pakistan.

The participants were taken to different places of worship for goodwill exchange visits, participated in a peace rally and also visited the office of a media group to understand their functioning, challenges and how media can support human rights work.

Session on concepts of Democracy
Mr. Samson Salamat while facilitating session on democracy said that democracy is a political system in which people has the power and authorities to elect their leader/representative through electoral process. The elected leader and representatives are the caretaker of their public, they develop roadmaps, policies, guidelines and laws for the protection and promotion of public rights and also facilitate them to access the rights.

In our society various misconceptions prevail just like that democracy is a western agenda and its anti religion system. While in reality democracy is a form of government which does not belongs to any specific area, culture and religion, but democracy talks about the equal treatment with all human beings. Democracy is not against any religion rather it talks about the respect of every religion and faith, it allows all the believers to perform their religious activities.

 
Mr. Samson shared following Principle of Democracy with the participants 
• Equal treatment with all citizens
• Decision making with consent 
• Right to disagree
• Defined responsibilities and limitation of different institutions 
• All human being equal in the eyes of law
• Respect of All Religion 
• Human Development 
• Equal opportunity to access the resources 
• Freedom of Expression
• Acceptance of disagreements  

Panel Discussion: Democracy in Pakistan: Challenges and way outs
A Panel discussion was held to discuss the challenges to democracy in Pakistan and the way out. The panelists included the representatives of different political parties and the civil society.

Mr. Nafees Ansari (Former Member of Provincial Assembly-Pakistan People‟s Party) said that we have democracy in our country but still we are not serious about democracy and are not ready to adopt the democratic values even that our Prime Minister is not coming in the National Assembly to attend parliamentary sessions.

Mr. Ansari Focused that in our country big problem is that the public representatives have become the godfathers for the public and they think that after getting vote and being elected, they become superior and public is their servant.

Mr. Ansari emphasized on Youth that you are the future of Pakistan if you want to save and prosperous country, you should understand the true spirit of democracy and guide the people about the features of democracy.

Mr. Rafiq Ahmed (Pakistan Thareek-e-Insaf) said that it‟s very ashamed that we claim that we are democratic but our first constitution was given by a Military dictator and after 35 years of independence democratic forces developed a constitution which shows the level of democratic forces is weakness. It‟s a matter of concern that despite democracy in power, the democratic forces have not been in position to take major decisions alone about the country affairs

Professor Hanif Choudary (Seriki Party) expressed that still our society thinks that democracy is only casting vote and establishing democratic parties, and society has no education about the characteristics of democracy which is the main dark side. Pakistan has experienced Military Dictatorship many times which engendered different kinds of crisis in our society. Pakistan‟s future is linked with democratic system therefore its necessary that people show their belief on democracy.

People of Pakistan has lack the ability to critically analyze the political parties and candidates, therefore ineligible persons can come into power. He stressed upon that people should be more critical and realistic while selecting the political parties and candidates for their vote.

Mr. Ashraf Quarashi (Pakistan Muslim League Functional) viewed that the culture of discrimination and hate among people of Pakistan on the basis of faith, sex, ethnicity, language and caste is creating the hurdles for the promotion and implementation of democratic values and principles in families, community, institutes and political parties. The current democratic setup should work to promote the values of non-discrimination among the citizens.

Ameer Ullah Sheikh (Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz) expressed that challenges to democracy in our country are very high; the democracy can be strengthen by the unity of all democratic forces. But it‟s good that our country has started journey on the democracy road and with the passage of time the true spirit of democracy could transform in the society.

The role of youth regarding the protection and promotion of democracy is very vital and I think all political parties should work on it.   

Mr. Samson Salamat (Director CHRE) said that another democratic government setup has been structured in the country but still decision making powers are in hands of Army. In every society and country the political parties are considered the nurseries of democracy but unfortunately here there is no democracy among the political parties, then how can we expect true democratic values from these parties.  In our country the influence of religious leader is very high and they mingled the politics and religion, various groups using religion for their politics purpose.

Talking about way outs Mr. Salamat said that critical thinking is required form public especially from youth on religion and political matters because religion is separate department and politics is separate department. The political parties despite to adopt the culture of exclusion of various groups from political process, must adopt the culture of inclusion and give respect and equal importance to all human beings and groups. Moreover public should leave the tradition casting vote on family, religion basis etc.

 

Good Will Exchange Visit
Good-will exchange visits were held and different worship places belonging to different religion/faith were visited to promote the culture of tolerance towards other religions and sects and to develop the understanding of participants that believers of different religion and faith all are Pakistanis and should live together with peace.

Following were visited 
• Shah Ruknay-e-Alam Darbar (Tomb of Sufi)
• Amam Bar Gah (Holy place of Shia Community)
• Hindu Temple
• Cathedral Church

 

Peace Rally / Exposure visit of Media Role of Media in Protecting Human Rights
On 31st August 2013 Centre for Human Rights Education-Lahore in collaboration with Voice of
New Generation-Punjab, Democracy Support Council-South Punjab, Activists Pakistan, Peace and Development Foundation and Humanity Support Foundation-Multan organized a Peace Rally in Multan to demand Peace in Pakistan especially in Karachi. The rally started from Nawan Shehr Chowk to Press Club-Multan.

The participants of the Training Workshop visited the office of Daily Khabrain Newspaper (Famous Media Group) to see their working procedure and challenges to media. During this visit Mr. Rana Pervaiz (Chief reporter) briefed about the working methodology of their newspaper and shared the role of media for protecting Human Rights.

3rd Day September 1st 
The last day began with the recap of the previous day which was presented by Mr. Sher Zaman and Mr. Sibghat Ullah.

Session on Report Writing 
On the last day of the training Mr. Naeem Haroon facilitated session on the report writing and gave different following tips to the participants which can be help to write a good report:-

• Clarity (type of report/activity )
• Identification of Target Audience/Reader (male, female, donor, general public etc)
• Use of proper Language  (Sindhi, Urdu, English etc)
• Proper Attention required at the time of developing report
• Write true fact and information
• Use word Mr and Ms for the clarity of person identification
• Avoid to words repetition
• Don‟t use unnecessary words and sentence 
• Proper Terminology(labour wages/pay)
• Flow in wording and sentence    
• Presentation Style (pictures, design) 
• Using 5w(what, where, when, why, whom/who) and 1 How

Designing the structure of DSC
Mr. Samson Salamat presented the purpose of formation of Democracy Support Council, its objective and guided about the activities of DSC. He said to the participants that this is not just a council/group it‟s the beginning of a social movement to strengthen democracy and this movement will lead the youth of Pakistan.

He shared the Following specific objectives of the Councils:

  1. Formation of Groups of Youth to expand the scope for the protection and promotion of democracy based on its Principles.
  2. Training of the members of Democracy Support Councils to enhance their conceptual clarity, knowledge and skills to work as to work as supporters of democracy.
  3. Strengthening of the network of CHRE Alumni and provide an opportunity to establish and run group of youth.
  4. Create new models in the civil society of Pakistan, where youth can establish, run and strengthen their own groups with maximum application of democratic values and norms.

Council Structure and Elections: 
The structure of Democracy Support Council was designed democratically by the consent of all
participants and three designations were announced.  An election panel was formulated to conduct the election of council; three members were selected for this panel including Mr. Umar Khan (DSC member), Ms. Saima Ali (CHRE Alumni) and Mr. Naeem Haroon (CHRE Staff). 

15 members including male and female contested the election for three positions and every member casted the vote for three positions.

After counting the votes following persons were elected

Mr. Shahzad Murtaza             Convener
Mr. Ahsan Ali                          Deputy Convener
Ms. Yasmeen Akhtar               Secretary

At the end of the training, the members of democracy support council developed the council action plan and shared with other participants.

For more information and pictures, please visit (DSC_Multan)

 

 

. .

. .