New Delhi: The European Union has released a statement condemning human rights violations across the world, including in countries such as China and Russia. While the statement uses some very strong language to condemn the rights violations in 13 countries, it makes no mention of India or Jammu & Kashmir.
The EU statement comes in the context of the ongoing 42nd Regular Session of the UNHRC taking place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 9 to 27 September. It notes that the EU would like to use the ongoing session to “discuss human rights situations that require the Council’s attention”.
The other countries that have been mentioned in the statement include Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Philippines, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Venezuela, Syria, Palestine, Burundi and Myanmar.
No mention of India, Jammu and Kashmir
The Government of India’s 5 August decision to abrogate Article 370 taking away the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir has been criticised by international media. The subsequent curfews and lock-down in the Valley have received a lot of flak too.
UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet had expressed “deep concern” over these restrictions and urged the Indian government to ease them. Voices have also been raised by several global leaders, against “human rights violations” in Kashmir.
In a charged political climate as this, it is significant that EU’s statement makes no mention of Kashmir.
It is to note that India’s relations with the EU have improved rapidly over the past few years. Last year, the EU had released a strategy paper on ways to further strengthen economic and political relations between the two entities. India’s relations with individual member-states have enhanced too. France, a permanent members of the UN Security Council, had backed India’s position on J&K.
Pulling no punches on China
While the EU statement makes no mention of India, it harshly critiques human rights violations in Xinjiang province, Tibet and Hong Kong by China.
“The EU is concerned about the existence of political re-education camps, widespread surveillance, and restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, against Uighurs and other minorities in Xinjiang. We urge China to allow meaningful access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,” notes the statement.
It urges China to ensure rule of law, establish fair trial guarantees and investigate thoroughly reported cases of “arbitrary detentions, mistreatment and torture of human rights defenders and their families”.
Hong Kong also finds a mention, with the EU requesting China to maintain a “high degree of autonomy” given to the city-state under “one country, two systems” principle.
What the statement says about other nations
The report also talks about gross human rights violations in countries such as Syria, Yemen, and Libya — nations that are currently experiencing existential wars.
Among the major global powers, the EU’s statement condemns violations by the Russian Federation, Egypt, Philippines, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
With respect to Russia, the statement notes, “The EU reiterates its serious concerns at the overall situation of human rights in the country. Pressure and restrictions on civil society continue to grow on the basis of restrictive legislation.”
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