Stung by the UN’s Human Rights Council criticism on the issues of cow vigilante violence, Kashmir and Rohingya refugees, India accused the High Commissioner Zeid Raad Al Hussein of passing “tendentious judgements made on the basis of selective and even inaccurate reports”. The UN statement was made on September 11.
“India is proud of its independent judiciary, freedom of press, vibrant civil society and respect for rule of law and human rights. A more informed view would have not only recognised this but also noted, for example, that the Prime Minister himself publicly condemned violence in the name of cow protection,” said India’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Rajiv Chander, during the ongoing Human Rights Council in his reply.
The government objected to the High Commissioner’s references to the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh and to people displaced in the Sardar Sarovar-Narmada Bachao Andolan. The High commissioner had spoken of “mob attacks against people under the pretext of protecting the lives of cows” and other instances of “rising intolerance” in India. The Modi government has retorted that these were “individual incidents” extrapolated (taken out of context) to suggest a broader societal situation”. (In simple words the Government says that these incidents do not reflect the rising intolerance and violence by RSS backed vigilante groups and that the UN has no business poking its nose into these matters.)
On Monday, while giving his update to the Council’s reports on 40 countries, Mr. Hussein had “deplored” the government’s recent decision to deport approximately 40,000 Burmese Rohingya refugees who are fleeing persecution and intolerance from Myanmar.
“India cannot carry out collective expulsions, or return people to a place where they risk torture or other serious violations,” Mr. Hussein had said, referring to the principle of non-refoulement, (refoulement means practice of forcing refugees or asylum seekers to return to a country in which they are liable to be subjected to persecution)after calling the Aung San Suu Kyi government’s policies against the refugees as a “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
The Modi government, however, prefers the term ‘illegal immigrants’ and is very reluctant to grant these people any sort of refugee status. Of course, India not like to be seen as insensitive and aggressive. “Like many other nations, India is concerned about illegal migrants, in particular, with the possibility that they could pose security challenges. Enforcing the laws should not be mistaken for lack of compassion,” Mr. Chander said, without referring directly to the Rohingyas or Burma (Myanmar).
The issue of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir has always been a sore point. The UN Human Rights Chief had referred to this in the written reports as well. India said the assessments overlooked “the central role of terrorism” there.