Can terrorist activities be justified in the name of a struggle for self-determination?
Mahatma Gandhi fought for the independence of India without resorting to terrorism. So did the people of Eastern Europe in their struggle to bring down the Berlin Wall. And Martin Luther King’s campaign for equal rights for all Americans eschewed all violence, much less terrorism.They were democrats, not terrorists.
They believed in the sanctity of each human life, were committed to the ideals of liberty, and championed the values of democracy.But those who practice terrorism do not believe in these ideals. In fact, they believe in the very opposite. For them, the cause they espouse is all encompassing; so total, that it justifies anything. It allows them to break any law, discard any moral code and trample all human rights in the dust. In their eyes, it permits them to indiscriminately murder and maim innocent men and women, and lets them blow up a bus full of children.There is a name for the doctrine that produces this evil. Terrorism. The United Nation recognizes the right to self-determination as an inalienable right of the people. Freedom has been, is, and will continue to be treasured and cherished by all individuals and states. The yoke of colonialism was overthrown as the process of de-colonization of Asia, Africa and South America gained momentum post World War II. It is ironical then to see that terrorist activities are conducted in the name of a freedom struggle. “It is a disgrace that democracies should allow the treasured word ‘freedom’ to be associated with acts of terrorism,” wrote former U.S. Senator Henry Jackson in his book “Terrorists and Freedom Fighters”. It must be emphasized that as long as an individual or a group of individuals hold nationality of an independent sovereign nation, they have no moral or legal right to claim themselves as freedom fighters.(Paul Johnson, ‘The Age of Terrorism’, 1974) If terrorism is identified as freedom fighting it may encourage the growth of sub-nationalism and lead to the vivisection of state and society. It would disrupt the socio-economic-political life and lead to a state of lawless men, threatening territorial integrity, political stability and thus international security. For instance, the violence in Kashmir is often justified in the name of the struggle for self-determination. Similar is the case with the Middle East. But, the fact remains that no interplay of words can justify the killings of innocent people.
|1. Main objective of a freedom struggle is to gain Independence.||1. The main objective of terrorism is intimidation & instilling a sense of fear.|
|2. Demands from a part of the larger objective.||2. Terrorists are motivated by demands rather than objectives.|
|3. Use of violence, if any, is directed towards the authority & symbols of domination.||3. Violence is the basic strategy of terrorism & is often aimed at innocent.|
|4. Aim to secure civil & political rights for the masses.||4. Responsible for hampering the basic rights of citizens including the right to life.|
|5. It is inspired by nationalism & revolver around bldg. a common touch with the masses.||5. It is transnational by nature & threatens the minds & lives of the masses.|
Freedom is a solemn word. It brings with itself rights as well as duties, privileges as well as responsibilities. It is for us to preserve this freedom. Violence threatens freedom; it can never safeguard the rights of individuals or uphold global security.