New Delhi: The United Nations’ Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, has expressed concern over the increase in hate speech and discrimination against minorities in India ever since the Citizenship Amendment Act was adopted in December 2019.
The Special Adviser stated, “While the objective of the act, to provide protection to minority communities is commendable, it is concerning that this protection is not extended to all groups, including Muslims. This is contrary to India’s obligations under international human rights law, in particular on non-discrimination.”
Moreover, Dieng has shown additional concern on reports that protests against the Act prior to the coronavirus pandemic breaking out led to injury and death of civilians, as well as attack on religious sites. It also resulted in “expressions of hate” against the Muslim community in India.
In late February, the northeast district in the national capital had seen communal riots break out and last for three days, which resulted in more than 50 deaths.
Dieng also particularly pointed at Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy’s statement that claimed all Indians are not equal, noting that “statements such as those expressed by Member of Parliament Subramanian Swamy, that all people are not equal, and that Muslims are not in an ‘equal category’ as others are extremely alarming. Hate speech and the dehumanisation of others goes against international human rights norms and values.”
The Special Adviser welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that coronavirus affects all communities equally and that it “does not see race, religion, colour, caste, creed, language or border before striking and that our response and conduct … should attach primacy to unity and brotherhood.”
Dieng asserted that the Government of India must continue to abide by this kind of guidance and ensure that its laws follow international standards on non-discrimination. He also emphasised the need for India to counter the rise of hate speech through messages of “inclusion, respect for diversity and unity”.
Dieng concluded, “In these extraordinary times brought about by the Covid-19 crisis, it is more important than ever that we stand united as one humanity, demonstrating unity and solidarity rather than division and hate.”