UN High Commissioner “dismayed” by rise of religious intolerance in India, “deplores” govt's bid to deport Rohingyas

Written by SabrangIndia Staff | Published on: September 12, 2017

"The complete denial of reality is doing great damage to the international standing of the Myanmar government"

Image: Reuters

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, has “deplored” India’s plan to deport Rohingyas “at a time of such violence against them in their own country.” He was equally “dismayed by a broader rise of intolerance towards religious and other minorities in India”. He was addressing the Human Rights Council on the opening day of its 36th session on the human rights situation in 40 countries.

The current wave of violent, and often lethal, mob attacks against people under the pretext of protecting the lives of cows is alarming,” said al Hussein. “People who speak out for fundamental human rights are also threatened. Gauri Lankesh, a journalist who tirelessly addressed the corrosive effect of sectarianism and hatred, was assassinated last week. I have been heartened by the subsequent marches calling for protection of the right to freedom of expression, and by demonstrations in 12 cities to protest the lynchings”.

“Human rights defenders who work for the rights of India's most vulnerable groups should be considered allies in building on India's achievements to create a stronger and more inclusive society. Instead, many are subject to harassment and even criminal proceedings, or denied protection by the State” the High Commissioner.

Deploring the systematic attack on Rohingyas possibly amounting to crimes against humanity, the high commissioner said, “The Myanmar government should stop claiming that the Rohingyas are setting fire to their own homes and laying waste to their own villages. This complete denial of reality is doing great damage to the international standing of a government which, until recently, benefited from immense good will. I call on the government to end its current cruel military operation…”

The high commissioner expressed appreciation over the Bangladesh government’s “constructive engagement” with the office of the UN High Commissioner on Rohingyas who have sought refuge in Bangladesh.

On a more general note the high commissioner bemoaned the “hypocrisy” of States which “defend the rights of humans elsewhere… while at home they openly deny the rights of their own people?”

“Does it not occur to the many Governments who engage in intimidation and bullying, and commit reprisals against human rights defenders and NGOs which work with the UN human rights mechanisms – do they not realise that this only confirms to us, and to the world, how much oppression and injustice they exercise in their own countries? This is not a shared future; it is the theft of their peoples' inalienable rights.”

The high commissioner urged the president and members states on the UN’s Human Rights Council “to develop a stronger, more unified voice in world affairs on behalf of human rights”.

“I also suggest consideration be given to the need to exclude from this body States involved in the most egregious violations of human rights,” he added.

Read the full text of the High Commissioner's Opening Statement.