UN human rights expert flags violence against minorities in India to US govt panel

News Network
September 21, 2023

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New Delhi, Sept 21: There is a 'steady' and 'alarming' erosion of fundamental rights, particularly of religious and other minorities in India, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issue has told the USCIRF.

During a hearing on Wednesday, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issue Fernand de Varennes told the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that the situation in India can be summarised in three words -- 'massive, systematic and dangerous'.

The USCIRF had announced that it would hold a hearing on religious freedom in India on September 20. India has previously rejected USCIRF reports that alleged violations of religious freedom in the country.

Appearing before the USCIRF for the hearing on policy options for advancing religious freedom in India, de Varennes alleged there is a 'steady' and 'alarming' erosion of fundamental rights, particularly of religious and other minorities in the country.

'India risks becoming one of the world's main generators of instability, atrocities and violence because of the massive scale and gravity of the violations and abuses targeting mainly religious and other minorities such as Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and others. It is not just individual or local, it is systematic and a reflection of religious nationalism,' he said.

The hearing comes on the heels of two successful bilateral meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Joe Biden -- the official state visit of the Indian leader here in June and a bilateral meeting in New Delhi in September.

USCIRF chair Abraham Cooper claimed Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Dalits and Adivasis are experiencing 'increased levels of attacks and acts of intimidation' in India.

'The national government has continued to suppress minority voices and those advocating on their behalf through surveillance, harassment, demolition of property and detention under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. These trends and their implication for the US foreign policy should not be ignored,' he said.

Cooper alleged that for the past several years, religious freedom conditions in India have deteriorated, capturing international attention and highlighting the need for continued discussions and engagement on policy options for advancing religious freedom in the country.

The USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan US government advisory body created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). Its recommendations are not binding on the US government.

On May 2 this year, India rejected as 'biased' and 'motivated' a report by the USCIRF that alleged 'severe violations' of religious freedom in the country.

'The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) continues to regurgitate biased and motivated comments about India, this time in its 2023 annual report. We reject such misrepresentation of facts, which only serves to discredit USCIRF itself,' the Ministry of External Affairs had said.

'We would urge USCIRF to desist from such efforts and develop a better understanding of India, its plurality, its democratic ethos and its constitutional mechanisms,' it had said.

Modi's state visit to Washington in June reflects the close bilateral relationship between the United States and India, the USCIRF had said last week.

'However, over the last decade, the Indian government has enacted and enforced discriminatory policies targeting religious minorities, including anti-conversion laws, cow slaughter laws, legislation granting citizenship preferences based on religion, and restrictions on foreign funding for civil society organisations,' it alleged.

'Recent trends include the eruption of violence between Hindus and Muslims in Haryana in July and targeted attacks against Christian and Jewish minorities in Manipur, highlighting the need for new strategies to mitigate violence against religious minorities in India,' it said.

Since 2020, the USCIRF has recommended that the US Department of State designate India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC).

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News Network
May 22,2024

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Ireland, Norway and Spain have formally recognized the Palestinian state, angering the Israeli regime that recalled its ambassadors from the two European states.

“Today Ireland, Norway and Spain are announcing that we recognize the state of Palestine, each of us will undertake whatever national steps are necessary to give effect to that decision," Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said at a news conference in Dublin on Wednesday.

“I am confident that further countries will join us in taking this important step in the coming weeks.”

He added that the move was a statement of "unequivocal support" for the so-called two-state solution, which he described as "the only credible path to peace and security."

Shortly after Harris's statement, his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said both countries will recognize the Palestine state from May 28.

Sanchez said it is clear is that “[Israeli] prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not have a project of peace for Palestine.”

Store, for his part, noted that there cannot be peace in the West Asia region if there is no recognition.

"Norway’s formal recognition of Palestine as a state will enter into force on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. A number of other like-minded European countries will also formally recognize Palestine on that same date. These countries will be making their own announcements," added a statement by the Norwegian prime minister.

Palestine welcomes recognition 

Meanwhile, secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hussein al-Sheikh, welcomed the decision by Norway, Spain and Ireland to recognize the state of Palestine, calling it a “historical moment.”

“Historical moments in which the free world triumphs for truth and justice after long decades of Palestinian national struggle, suffering, pain, occupation, racism, murder, oppression, abuse and destruction to which the people of Palestine were subjected to,” he said in a post on social media platform X, describing the recognition as a path to stability, security and peace.

“We thank the countries of the world that have recognized and will recognize the independent State of Palestine. We affirm that this is the path to stability, security and peace in the region.”

In reaction, Israeli authorities have ordered the regime’s ambassadors from Ireland and Norway to immediately return, and said they would do the same for Spain.

The Spanish prime minister has been one of the most outspoken European leaders when it comes to criticism of the Israeli regime’s genocidal war on Gaza. He has also repeatedly asserted that the so-called two-state solution remains the only answer to the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This comes amid Israel's brutal war on Gaza, which was launched on October 7 after Palestinian resistance groups carried out a surprise retaliatory operation into the occupied territories.

Concomitantly with the war, the regime has been enforcing a near-total siege on the coastal territory, which has reduced the flow of foodstuffs, medicine, electricity, and water into the Palestinian territory into a trickle.

So far during the military onslaught, the regime has killed at least 35,456 Gazans, most of them women, children, and adolescents. Another 79,476 Palestinians have sustained injuries as well.

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News Network
May 21,2024

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Bengaluru: Home Minister G Parameshwara on Tuesday said that the Karnataka government has written to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) seeking the cancellation of the diplomatic passport held by absconding JD(S) MP Prajwal Revanna. This follows an arrest warrant issued by a special court against the Hassan MP wanted in multiple rape and sexual harassment cases.

Speaking to reporters in the city, Parameshwara said that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had already written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the cancellation of Prajwal's passport.

“But the department writing it, as per the law, is different,” the Home Minister said. “A warrant has been issued now (and) based on the warrant, a letter has been written, stating that a warrant has been issued and the diplomatic passport has to be cancelled.”

Parameshwara said that in case the ministry cancels the passport, it will be impossible for Prajwal to stay in a foreign country and he would be compelled to return.

"We have written to the Ministry of External Affairs as matters related to passports come under them, they will have to respond to it," he added.

Prajwal fled to Germany after the Phase II Lok Sabha polls in the state on April 26. A few days before the polls, explicit videos of women allegedly harassed and sexually assaulted by the MP were leaked and pen drives filled with the visuals were purportedly distributed in Hassan.

Prajwal is accused of raping two women. He is also accused in a separate sexual harassment case, where his father JD(S) MLA HD Revanna is the co-accused.

On Saturday, a Special Court for Elected Representatives issued an arrest warrant against the MP after the Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up to probe the Hassan sex abuse case moved an application.

Earlier the SIT had issued Look Out Circulars and a Blue Corner Notice, seeking the whereabouts of the MP, was also issued by Interpol in response to a request by the SIT via the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

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News Network
May 12,2024

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Bengaluru: Karnataka Home Minister G Parameshwara on Sunday said that the Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing into sexual abuse charges against Hassan MP Prajwal Revanna, will not be going abroad to bring him back, and the Interpol will share information about him.

He also cautioned political leaders about making public statements or sharing information in connection with the case, which is sensitive.

The 33-year-old Prajwal Revanna, who is grandson of JD(S) patriarch and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, is facing charges of sexually abusing several women.

The scandal has raised a political storm with the ruling Congress and BJP-JD(S) engaged in a slugfest.

Prajwal Revanna is said to have flown abroad on April 27, a day after the first phase of Lok Sabha polls in Karnataka was held.

He was BJP-JD(S) alliance's joint candidate from Hassan Lok Sabha segment, which went to polls in the first phase.

"No, there is no such option. Blue Corner Notice has been issued and the Interpol will share the information. The respective country in which he is found or identified - they will inform them (Interpol) and then our agencies, the CBI will get to know, and through them we will get to know."

"So far there is no information," Parameshwara said.

He was responding to a question on reports about the SIT team travelling abroad in connection with the case.

Speaking to reporters, he said, "Investigation is going on, not to affect the investigation we don't want to share any information."

Responding to a question on Union Minister Pralhad Joshi's statement alleging conspiracy behind the arrest of BJP leader Devaraje Gowda, for making allegations against Congress leaders in connection with the case, Parameshwara said, "If anyone says anything I cannot react to it. We cannot respond to every public statement. As this is a serious case, we cannot share information until the investigation is completed."

"My request to the public and to our leaders is to be cautious while making statements. If not, based on the statements given by them, we may have to call them for investigation and record their statement under 41 A of CrPC," he added.

Asked whether JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy will also be served notice, the Minister said he is a former CM and that he believes that the former has taken this case seriously.

"Before giving any statements on this case or before sharing any information in the public domain, one has to be cautious, and this applies to all," he added.

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