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Does Human Rights Watch report feed atrocity literature against Hindus and India?

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By Nithin Sridhar

Human Rights Watch, an international advocacy group on human rights has just released its ‘World Report 2016’ assessing the human rights conditions prevalent across the globe in the year 2015. The report analyses human rights conditions in various countries on wide range of parameters.

Yet, even a cursory look at its assessment of India reveals its biasness and one-sided reporting. While it has rightly highlighted few issues like lack of Police reforms in India, or the regressive law against homosexuals, it completely loses its sense of balance when dealing with issues of free speech, communal violence, etc. Further, its coverage of India appears to be completely motivated, especially when it makes irresponsible remarks like ‘India was a weak proponent of human rights at the UN in 2015.’Its criticism of Modi-led BJP government clearly goes overboard as well! The whole report reads more like a propaganda pamphlet than an unbiased reporting.

Let’s take the issue of Church attacks that had surfaced in December 2014 and early 2015. Though, there was a huge outcry after the attacks with the media giving it a communal color, later investigations clearly revealed that they were cases of random thefts and vandalism and there was absolutely no communal motive behind them. (See Rupa Subramanya’s piece in Firstpost). Moreover, Delhi Police itself had rubbished the idea that Christians were being targeted. The data with the Delhi Police, further revealed that in 2014, around 206 temples, 30 gurdwaras, 14 mosques as against three churches that were targeted. Till mid-February, 2015, 14 temples, two mosques, four gurdwaras and one church were targeted by the thieves.

Thus, the so called ‘church attacks’ were clearly a case of random theft and vandalism, without any communal angle. Yet, the report of Human Rights Watch chose to write: “Churches were also attacked in several states in 2015, prompting fears of growing Hindu nationalist militancy under the BJP government.” This is clearly a case of distortion of facts with a clear agenda to defame Modi-led government and to create a false impression of religious intolerance. The Human Rights group needs to answer what Hindu militancy are they speaking about? Which Hindu outfits have taken up arms and have gone on a killing spree in India? Did India witness any large scale massacre of non-Hindus by any Hindu outfit? What is the basis of such assertions? More importantly, if Church attacks were indeed carried out by growing Hindu militancy, then why would they target Hindu temples and Sikh Gurudwaras?

It is obvious that the motive behind giving a communal color to Church vandalism was to discredit the whole Hindu movement by branding them as ‘militants’ and to discredit Modi-led BJP government that is trying hard to bring India on the path of progress.

On one hand, the report speaks about the growth of non-existing Hindu militancy, but at the same time conveniently ignores the presence of numerous jihadi terrorists, naxalite groups, and other militant separatist outfits that are active in India. They do not forget to highlight the importance of accountability of security forces deployed in areas like Kashmir, but ignore the human rights violations committed by Kashmiri militants.

The report rightly highlighted the few incidents in which Muslim men were killed over allegations of killing cows and consuming beef. But, here again, it forgets to include cases of killings where the victims were Hindus and the perpetrators were Muslims. Thus, no Sanju Rathod, no Prashanth Poojary finds any mention in the report. Further, the report is completely silent about sustained attacks on Hindus and Hindu temples by members of the Muslim community in West Bengal. According to a report prepared by Hindu Samhati, there have been 34 cases of Hindu persecution between March 2008 and January 2015. On January 29, 2015, for example, a mob of around 1000 Muslims ransacked Hindu shops and looted them in a place called Usthi in West Bengal. Yet, these attacks on Hindus finds no mention in the Human Rights Report.

It appears that Hindus, because of their being a majority in India, have lost any claims towards human rights in the eyes of International Human rights organizations. What else explains their step-motherly treatment towards Hindu? What explains their choice in dedicating an entire section to analyze the ‘treatment of minorities’ but not sparing even a few lines to write about human rights issues being faced by the Hindu majority?

The report does not stop at this. It further alleges that Indian government harassed various civil society organizations using Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), because they had criticized the politics of the government. It cites the government imposition of restrictions on Ford Foundation and Greenpeace and the suspension of Teesta Setalvad’s Sabrang Trust as examples of government harassment and intimidation of civil society members. But the fact is the imposition of restriction and cancellations of registrations were done because these organizations allegedly violated the terms of the FCRA.

Teesta, for example, has been charged with diversion and misuse of foreign funds received by her trust for educational and social purpose. Similar charges exist against other organizations as well. The report seems to suggest that NGO’s and members of civil society must be given a free reign irrespective of the corruption and other illegal activities they indulge in. Many of the NGO’s have for a long time indulged in various anti-national activities. Many like Ford Foundation have clear links with the CIA and has tried to intervene in the internal politics of India. (See Surajit Dasgupta’s two part piece in NitiCentral here and here). These organizations receive huge foreign funds under various pretexts and then use those funds for breaking India activities (See the book ‘NGOs Activists and Foreign Funds’). The Human Rights Watch report conveniently whitewashed all the illegal activities of the NGO’s that led to government action against them, and has instead chosen to portray government action as an infringement of freedom of civil society! In other words, Human Rights Watch appears to support, at least in principle, the breaking India activities that few of these NGO’s are involved in.

The report did not forget to mention the Award Wapsi brigade and how they protested against the silencing of dissent by the government. One wonders, if there was any real silencing of dissent, how did so many writers, filmmakers, etc. managed to return their awards and air their protests publicly? It is quite obvious that the whole discourse on intolerance were manufactured with ulterior motives and had no basis in reality. Yet, the report chose to highlight it, without even investigating the veracity of the claims made by the Award Wapsi brigade.

It is very evident from the report that it is nothing better than an atrocity literature against India, especially Hindus, that attempts to portray Hindu movements as ‘militancy’ and India as a country that perpetrates violence against minorities. This is not the first time that Human Rights Watch has been accused of shoddy work and showing clear biasness. There have been allegations of them being influenced by the US government policy and showing a clear bias in reporting on Latin America, Israel, Ethiopia, etc. They have been accused of ignoring anti-Semitic violence. To this, we must now add their ignoring of anti-Hindu violence and their clear bias in the treatment of India.

Irrespective of the intentions of the Human Rights Watch, their prejudices and preconceived notions about Hindus, and their shoddy work has ensured that their report has ended up as a mere atrocity literature that will be used by breaking India forces. (Photo: www.thetoc.gr)

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Asia Cup : India Emerge Champions for third time, Beat Malaysia in Asia Cup Hockey Championship

India emerged victorious for the third time

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(representational Image) India vs Malaysia Hockey Match wikimedia

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India overcame Malaysia 2-1 in the final on Sunday to win the Asia Cup hockey championship for the third time.

Ramandeep Singh (3rd minute) and Lalit Upadhyay (29th) scored for India. Shahril Saabah (50th minute) scored the reducer for Malaysia. (IANS)

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Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has been named the new Goodwill Ambassador by WHO

New WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health

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President of Zimbabwe and Chairman of the African Union Robert Mugabe. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 21, 2017 : The World Health Organization (WHO) has appointed Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe as a goodwill ambassador to help tackle non-communicable diseases.

New WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised Zimbabwe for its commitment to public health, BBC reported on Saturday.

But critics say Zimbabwe’s health care system has collapsed, with the president and many of his senior ministers going abroad for treatment.

They say that staff are often unpaid and medicines are in short supply.

Tedros, who is Ethiopian, is the first African to lead the WHO and replaced Margaret Chan, who stepped down from her 10-year post in June.

He was elected with a mandate to tackle perceived politicisation in the organisation.

The WHO head praised Zimbabwe as “a country that places universal health coverage and health promotion at the centre of its policies to provide health care to all”.

But US-based campaign group Human Rights Watch said it was an embarrassment to give the ambassador role to Mugabe given his record on human rights.

“If you look at Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s corruption, his utter mismanagement of the economy has devastated health services there,” said executive director Kenneth Roth.

“Indeed, you know, Mugabe himself travels abroad for his health care. He’s been to Singapore three times this year already. His senior officials go to South Africa for their health care.

“When you go to Zimbabwean hospitals, they lack the most basic necessities.”

The idea of hailing Mr Robert Mugabe “as any kind of example of positive contribution to health care is absolutely absurd”, he added.

President Robert Mugabe heard about the award while attending a conference held by the WHO, a UN agency, on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Montevideo.

He told delegates how his country had adopted several strategies to combat the challenges presented by NCDs, which the WHO says kill about 40 million people a year and include cancers, respiratory diseases and diabetes.

“Zimbabwe has developed a national NCD policy, a palliative care policy, and has engaged United Nations agencies working in the country, to assist in the development of a cervical cancer prevention and control strategy,” Mugabe was reported by the state-run Zimbabwe Herald newspaper as saying.

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But the President admitted that Zimbabwe was similar to other developing countries in that it was “hamstrung by a lack of adequate resources for executing programmes aimed at reducing NCDs and other health conditions afflicting the people”.

Zimbabwe’s main MDC opposition party also strongly criticised the WHO move.

“The Zimbabwe health delivery system is in a shambolic state, it is an insult,” said spokesman Obert Gutu.

“Robert Mugabe trashed our health delivery system. He and his family go outside of the country for treatment in Singapore after he allowed our public hospitals to collapse.” (IANS)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)