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27.02.2020 19:27 News >> UN Rights Chief Concerned By India Violence

UN Rights Chief Concerned By India Violence

Michelle Bachelet says India's citizenship law and police inaction over attacks against Muslims is 'of great concern'

The UN's top human rights official on Thursday raised concerns over Indian authorities' failure to stop attacks against Muslims in the country.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN high commissioner for human rights, was giving an oral update at the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council at the UN's European headquarters in Geneva.
She said the Citizenship Amendment Act passed by India last December was "of great concern."
"Indians in huge numbers, and from all communities have expressed -- in a mostly peaceful manner -- their opposition to the act, and support for the country's long tradition of secularism," she said.
For over a month, thousands of Indians have been protesting the law, which makes it easier for non-Muslims from regional countries to get Indian citizenship but excludes Muslims from its beneficiaries.
Clashes between pro- and anti-citizenship law protesters in New Delhi started on Sunday and devolved into communal violence that claimed at least 34 lives as of Thursday morning.
"I am concerned by reports of police inaction in the face of attacks against Muslims by other groups, as well as previous reports of excessive use of force by police against peaceful protesters," said Bachelet.
"This has now widened into broader inter-communal attacks, with 34 people killed since Sunday. I appeal to all political leaders to prevent violence."
Palestine and Saudi Arabia
Bachelet said the loss of lives and injuries caused by Israeli forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territory was another "source of concern."
"The loss of life in 2019, and the thousands injured by use of live ammunition by Israeli forces -- including many children -- are a source of concern. Plans for new Israeli settlements in the occupied territory more than doubled in the past year. Settlements on occupied land are illegal under international law," the UN human rights commissioner said.
She said the illegal expansion has been accompanied "by the highest level of settler violence against Palestinians since 2013."
"I am troubled by increasing restrictions of the civic space in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, where human rights defenders and political opponents are being targeted with arrests, travel bans, ill-treatment, smear campaigns, administrative sanctions and obstructions to funding," she added.
Turning to Saudi Arabia, Bachelet called for a transparent investigation and "comprehensive accountability" for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Khashoggi, a contributor to The Washington Post, was killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, 2018. After initially denying responsibility, Saudi officials blamed his death on a botched rendition attempt. International authorities have said the truth about the murder has yet to be revealed.
The UN rights chief urged Saudi Arabia to seize the opportunity of this year's G20 Summit in Riyadh and "demonstrate progress in implementing its international human rights obligations."
"I encourage legislative frameworks to uphold freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association for all, and reviews of the judgments of those who have been convicted for expressing their opinions -- including human rights defenders, religious leaders, and journalists," she said.
Bachelet also called for the release of several women who have been detained by Saudi authorities for their legitimate demand for "reforms of discriminatory policies in the country."
- China's Uighur Muslims

The UN rights chief also urged Beijing to provide an advance team "unfettered access" to the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region to prepare for her visit later this year.
"I welcome the invitation by the Chinese government for me to visit China this year, including Xinjiang. We will continue to request unfettered access for an advance team in preparation for this proposed visit," said Bachelet.
"We will seek to analyze in depth the human rights situation in China, including the situation of members of the Uighur minority."
Her comment came a day after China's ambassador to the UN said Beijing was looking forward to Bachelet's visit and working on finalizing arrangements.

Chen Xu also dismissed criticism of China's treatment of Uighur Muslims, describing it as "groundless accusations" by certain Western countries.

China's western Xinjiang region is home to around 10 million Uighurs. The Turkic Muslim group, which makes up around 45% of Xinjiang's population, has long accused Chinese authorities of cultural, religious, and economic discrimination.

In a report last September, Human Rights Watch accused China of carrying out a "systematic campaign of human rights violations" against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
China denies the charges, claiming Uighurs are being educated at "vocational training centers." -



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