Their Lives, Our Lives


Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan talks with relatives of miners who were killed or injured in the mine explosion. Reuters photo.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan talks with relatives of miners who were killed or injured in the mine explosion. Reuters photo.

Why are human lives so cheap in the Muslim world and what is the responsibility of the leadership?


[dropcap]A[/dropcap] South Korean ferry sank off Jindo Island on April 16 claiming around 300 lives, most of them schoolchildren. There was tremendous public fury at South Korean political leadership to resign. By relinquishing her office, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye made a gesture which is completely unimaginable in our parts of the world.

“The ultimate responsibility for the poor response to this accident lies with me,” Park said in a televised address to the nation, during which she wept openly and twice bowed deeply in a display of contrition. Prime Minister Chung Hong-Won had already resigned last month, right after the loss of those innocent lives!

Generally in the “Third world” and particularly in the Muslim world, human lives are getting lost in their thousands in the form of train accidents, buildings or mine collapses, and brutal internal strife. A recent example is the tragic Turkish mining accident where as many human lives are lost last week as in the South Korean boat mishap. Unlike South Korean boat passengers who were on a pleasure trip, Turkish miners had stepped out of their houses in the morning for putting food on the table of their families.

Considered to be the most humane leader in the entire Muslim world, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan visited the accident site. But he never hinted at taking full responsibility for the safety and security of lost innocent lives and therefore offering to resign. His visit seemed more of “checking the box” than healing the wounds of poor miners and their families.

More tragic was last year’s garment factory tragedy in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Almost 1000 innocent laborers perished. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina did not shed a single tear on this tragedy. In fact, at that time in violation of all democratic norms, she was fully focused on another power-grabbing exercise to prolong her questionable rule.

Mourning the loss of innocent lives was her least priority, if at all. No one has been punished till date. Nor her self-serving government has offered any meaningful economic support to the families of innocent victims. Hasina’s single-point agenda is to wipe out all opposition from the country’s political scene.

All said and done, South Korean, Bangladeshi and Turkish tragedies are classified as “accidents”. However in 1984, Indians elected a politician their Prime Minister who defended the slaughter of thousands of innocent Indians as a revenge for the murder of his mother – Indira Gandhi.

Again in 1992, thousands of Indians were killed across the country protesting the destruction of Babri Masjid by the newly crowned rulers of India in last week’s elections. The Indian Prime Minister at the time brazenly continued in office.

In 2002, thousand more Indians were killed in the Western Indian state of Gujarat. No question about leaving the power, the state Chief Minister or the country’s Prime Minister did not show any meaningful remorse at the loss of innocent human lives. On the contrary, the state Chief Minister who has been accused of facilitating those killings is overwhelmingly elected as the Prime Minister of India, last week! Let’s see what is in store for us now.

Human lives are considered precious in almost every religion. Islam equates the life of one individual with the life of entire humanity. But sadly, humans in our parts of the world are the least worthy creatures. Everything else is more precious. One single Israeli is exchanged with 1000 Palestinians!

Why has this happened or is happening?

Only our leaders can answer this correctly.

But my guess is as good as yours: strong bonding and deep connection between the ruling classes and their citizens that once existed has either significantly weakened or completely disappeared in both the democratic and autocratic countries. That relationship used to be like a father or a mother has with his/her own kids.

The loss of any citizen’s life or honor (regardless of his or her religious background) would be mourned like the loss in the leaders’ own families. The burden of leadership was so immense – once upon a time – that potential leaders would shudder at the thought of assuming leadership positions.

Firefighters try to douse the massive blaze in the garment factory in Bangladesh earlier last year that claimed hundreds of lives.
Firefighters try to douse the massive blaze in the garment factory in Bangladesh earlier last year that claimed hundreds of lives.

But in our parts of the world, priorities of leaders have completely changed from (i) protecting, (ii) nurturing (iii) developing and (iv) respecting human resources – who then will build their own and their country’s economic future with minimal state intervention like South Korea – to (a) self-enrichment (b) nationalistic rhetoric (c) political and economic oppression/exploitation (d) retention of power at any cost (e) extreme bias against religious minorities etc.

In current man-made tragedies like Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan thousands of human lives are being lost on a monthly basis. But instead of shedding tears (even if they are crocodile’s) the leaders are seen draped in designer suits, living in palatial houses under the security cover for themselves and their families that cost hundreds of millions of dollars of public funds.

Under such leaders, almost all the Muslim armies that are currently engaged in combat operations (heavily funded and armed by Western nations) are killing their OWN CITIZENS ONLY. Not a single army is engaged with external threats! All of them are busy taking the lives of those very folks whose lives they are meant to protect!

There seems to be no end to our current miseries. In fact, personal insecurity of citizens and general lawlessness is only increasing by the day. By putting a mirror in front of our leaders – by giving examples such as Prime Minister Chung Hong-Won  and President Park – we may hope that some hearts will soften somewhere, slowly and gradually…

All opinions and views expressed in columns and blogs are those of individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Caravan

Clarion India - News, Views and Insights about Indian Muslims, Dalits, Minorities, Women and Other Marginalised and Dispossessed Communities.


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