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Denying one’s right to food is denying HR: NHRC

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Staff reporter Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Dr Mizanur Rahman on Tuesday said that denial of one’s right to food is the denial of one’s human rights. “A hungry man is an angry man, and it is simply because he feels humiliated and insulted because of his hunger. Denying one’s right to food is denying one’s human rights as well,” he told a function in the capital. Oxfam and Hunger Free World jointly organised a mock youth parliament on ‘Right to Food’ at Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban of the Dhaka University as part of the ongoing ‘Right to Food Campaign’. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Mizanur Rahman said the right to food does not mean the right to be fed. “It is more about creating opportunities to ensure availability of food and financial capability of the people. That’s economic development, in true sense.” He said the Proclamation of Independence, signed on 10 April 1971, has one clause that emphasized ensuring equality, social justice and human dignity as one of the reasons for the Liberation War, and these three combined form the core of human rights as well. “The government’s fundamental responsibility is to ensure safe and nutritious food for the people.” To ensure right to food, the NHRC chief said, a concrete work plan should be worked out with clear instructions on the distribution of food. “We cannot achieve our rights without performing our duties. The government and the individuals of the state have to perform their duties to ensure the rights, including the right to food,” he added. The mock Youth Parliament on Right to Food has urged the government to consider protecting the citizen’s right to food in the Constitution as a fundamental right. The day’s mock youth parliament sought to create awareness on the need for judicial safeguards on right to food and at the same time, engage youths of Bangladesh in the larger campaign, since youths constitute one-third of the country population. Speaking as the chief guest, Deputy Speaker M Fazle Rabbi Miah said the role of youth in Bangladesh economy and democracy is crucial and the Youth Parliament allows them to actively engage in citizenship, cultural understanding and democratic practices. “Jatiya Sangsad of Bangladesh will explore the possibility of the necessity of enacting a right to food act with due urgency,” he added. State Minister for Youth and Sports Biren Sikder asked the youths to retain this right to food network and continue the campaigns on national and international issues related to eradicating hunger and poverty. Country Director of Oxfam in Bangladesh Snehal V Soneji, Hunger Free World country director M Ataur Rahman Miton and policy advocacy manager of Oxfam Monisha Biswas also spoke at the event. Participants from 23 universities and colleges representing 64 districts attended the Youth Parliament.