One of the national human rights institutions to endorse this year’s Global Appeal to End Stigma and Discrimination against People Affected by Leprosy is Jordan’s National Centre for Human Rights. Jordan is leprosy free, but it decided to support the appeal for two reasons, according its commissioner general, Dr. Mousa Burayzat.
“First, it is consistent with our mandate as a human rights institution to fight discrimination, xenophobia or any form of mistreatment of any person,” he said. “And second, it is a noble principle and a humanitarian cause.”
Jordan may not have cases of leprosy today, but the disease is recorded in its history and literature and people are aware that leprosy remains a problem in the world, Dr. Burayzat said. No country exists in a vacuum, he added
“Unfortunately, humans live by forms of discrimination, either positive or negative. We discriminate in favor, we discriminate against. It is something ingrained in us,” he said. “People discriminate out of fear and ignorance; fear is the cause of a lot of misunderstanding, and even conflict and estrangement, between humans.”
But shunning those who are different is self defeating, he believes. “It says in the Koran that we create difference to know each other. Not only to know each other, but so that there would be interaction. It is through interaction that humans achieve progress.”
In various parts of the world, people affected by leprosy remain isolated and ignored. It is time for interaction. It is time to achieve progress.