The “War on Terror” has led to grave human rights violations and, in response, to a growing volume of human rights litigation. The “War On Terror” has been exploited by western governments to reduce civil liberties and take away basic human right thus the term war is not appropriately used in this context since there is no one enemy. This essay would provide an argument of litigation that has unfolded in recent years in relation to issues such as extraordinary rendition. The essay would further provide a prism which displays key characteristics of the “War On Terror” as it affects human rights such as what is happening in Afghanistan, Syria, and Palestine and how citizens of the victim country become the target, arbitrary detention and torture- ill-treatment, demolition of social infrastructure and becoming refugees. War is a conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or parties within a nation’s warfare, as by land, sea or air. Terror is a person or thing that causes intense fear and Terrorism is the systematic use of violence and intimidation to achieve some goal, hence this leads to the question what is human right and human rights abuse? Human Rights is the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled, often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law thus Human Rights Abuse is infringement on the fundamental human rights.
The “War on Terror” is an international campaign to end terrorism. The effort is overseen by the United States and the United Kingdom and also receives much support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. The effort has included several wars, lately the Iraq war and recently Syria and also the war in Afghanistan. It is being fought predominantly in the Middle East, but also in Southeast Asia and the Horn of Africa. The “War On Terror” officially began on October 7, 2001 and was spurred by the attack on the World Trade Center of the United States on September 11, 2001. The initial phase of the “War On Terror” was the war in Afghanistan. This resulted in the fall of the Taliban government as well as the destruction of the Al ‘Qaeda camps. The Iraq War began in 2003 and has resulted in the overthrow of the Baath Party government as well as the execution of Saddam Hussein, the nation’s former leader. Free elections and a democratic government have been instated in Iraq, but insurgency and loss of civilian lives continues. The phrase “War on Terror” was initially used by President George W. Bush on 20th September 2001.The Bush administration and the Western media have since used the term to signify a global military, political, lawful, and conceptual struggle targeting both organizations designated as terrorist and regimes accused of supporting them. It was typically used with a particular focus on militant Islamists, al-Qaeda, and other jihadist groups and excludes other independent campaigns such as those by Russia and India. However, it has not been used by the administration of President Barack Obama. Instead, this administration prefers to refer to the effort as the Overseas Contingency Operation.
The war on terror is having a great misfortune on the lives of its victims. We have been witnessing the deteriorating state at which this “War On Terror” is being used to infringed on the fundamental human right of civilians’ of the victim countries, in the likes of them being killed unjustly and tortured without any concrete reason.. This makes us to wonder if really the war on terror is achieving its purpose or it is just combated to achieve a different goal.
Recently, one could witness the massacre of civilians in most of the major Islamic countries like Syria, Pakistan, Gaza, Palestine, and Afghanistan and how citizens of the country become victims hence the target. Most of these civilians are denied the right to live because they are invaded by some militaries from the western countries that kill them cruelly all in the name of fighting terrorist. According to Human Right First (2012) in their fact sheet report, 1,179 civilians have died in Syria since February 2012 and over 9,000+ civilian deaths since the start of the uprising in March 2011. “Robinson Jennifer, a London-based human rights lawyer said it is time for the US to re-examine the consequences of its dehumanizing deadly attacks in Pakistan” (Al- Jazeera, 2011). The shootings and bombings of this supposed terrorists has become rampant. According to a publication by Al- Jazeera (2011), “Pakistanis have become increasingly angry over US drone that kill civilians, such as a 16-year-old boy named Tariq Aziz”. Furthermore, Manach (2011) found that, the “War on Terror” civilians suffered the greatest number of deaths. The Iraq Body Count documented between 100 and 110,000 civilians who died violent deaths since 2003 to present. She further stated that if the figures published in The Lancet are controversial, the estimated number of victims from the Iraqi War could range from 100,000 to over one million. This is outrageous thus absolutely an injustice which illustrates a breach of international Law and Pakistani law by the US government hence a violation on their human rights.
Moreover, arbitrary detention and torturing of these citizens without trial is a major issue. The “War On Terror” has indeed contributed to the growing abuse of human rights. Under the United State Act and Human Right Act, everyone has the right to be judged, trialed and have access to a lawyer, but unfortunately, that is not the case here. Suspected terrorists who are captured by the US Army are being sent to exile where nobody knows their whereabouts be it the person’s family or the victim government. These civilians are tortured and detained on mere remorse coming from some secret organizations of the US. Sometimes, most of the civilians remain behind bars in the US prisons for the rest of their life without being trialed in any court of competent jurisdiction. A publication by Rhode (2013), in the truth out magazine explained how President Obama and the CIA tortured and detained suspected terrorists in the Guantanamo Bay with drones without them being trialed. Here is a case when the victim is found not guilty; there is no form of compensation to the family members. This is indeed a great abuse of human right but the US finds it justifiable and don’t really care about it.
Demolition of social infrastructure like schools, hospitals, electricity and more is also a major factor. Due to “War On Terror”, the victim countries social infrastructures are destroyed whereby it prevents their civilians from enjoying government benefit. According to a 2013 recent publication by Reuters, more than a fifth of Syria’s schools have been destroyed or made unusable in more than two years of conflict, jeopardizing the education of 2.5 million young people. Hitherto, due to demolition of social infrastructure like hospitals, civilians do not get access to shelter and healthcare which makes them become very sick and malnourished. A November 2012 report by the Feinstein International Center stated clearly that, one in three Afghan children are malnourished, with rates of malnourishment far higher in conflicted-affected regions such as those in the country’s south. Among children under 5 years old, Afghanistan has the highest rate of stunted growth in the world. Access to healthcare remains very limited, with 15% of the population without access to even the most basic healthcare services. In areas where fighting continues, militants lack respect for the neutrality of healthcare facilities, making attending these facilities dangerous. Additionally, the “War On Terror” forces citizens to move out of their country due to the dilapidated state of the countries building after the shootings and bombings. Since they have no place to stay and can’t get access to food and safety, the situation compiles them to migrate to other neighboring countries hence becoming refugees in other to survive.
Yes, indeed, there is no argument that the “War On Terror” has increased surveillance of the general population of specific groups and given the police more powers in their jurisdiction to fight against terrorist. The “War On Terror” has also broadened our horizon to know the existence of terrorists and the harm that they can cause to a country and has also pave way for the general public to report the hideouts of some dangerous terrorists.
The American PATRIOT Act gave the security services added impetus and authorization to act domestically by increasing their powers of surveillance. In addition to such clearly apparent modifications to the role of Western security services, the range and nature of the clandestine activities that they perform also appear to have increased. These include assisting various military units in the pursuit of high value targets in Iraq and Afghanistan and the interrogation of suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay. (Oliver Jack 2013).
Even though the “War On Terror” has increased surveillance of the general population of specific groups, it has actually done more harm than good. Let’s be realistic here, ever since the declaration of “War On Terror”, the number of lives lost in this agenda is ten times more than the deaths at the September 11 bombings of the World Trade Center. Based on the definition of terrorism, the United States is a terrorist country itself since they invade a country, violate the rights of the country civilians, killed innocent citizens and render them homeless. Seriously, the purpose of “War On Terror” is a total failure thus it has rather led to a grave increased in terrorism.
As time passes by, the “War On Terror” is really becoming a night mere to the world. Civilians brutally killed like animals, tortured like they are inhuman and given life sentences based on irrelevant fact is up surd. This leads us to the question “Of all the innocent men, women, and children killed, are they also terrorist. Critically analyzing this scenario, one could notice that the “War On Terror or Terrorism” is really not a war on terror but a war on Islam since they only classify Muslims as terrorists. This can be clearly seen in the so called agenda of the US whereby they only fight against Muslim countries and support any country which has a grudge with an Islamic state or nation. It is high time, the Human Rights Organizations and Human Rights Activists, Pressure Groups, United Nations and all responsible organizations wake up and make an investigation on the “War On Terror” so that these unlawful acts would be minimized and stopped totally. The “War On Terror” can be stopped if the western countries do not invade into the properties of the Middle East, do not arrest their citizens and slain them brutally. With all the evidences provided above, there is no objection that the “War On Terror” has indeed contributed to the growing abuse of human right.
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