The Indian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Rajiv K. Chander, has expressed strong disapproval of the remarks of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, ZeidRa'ad Al Hussein, and said that there appeared to be an inadequate appreciation of the freedoms and rights, which are guaranteed and practiced daily in a vibrant democracy that has been built under challenging conditions. Hussein had described the situation of Myanmar's Rohingya minority as a 'textbook example of ethnic cleansing' and criticised both Yangon and New Delhi, the latter for seeking to deport Rohingyas who fled to India.
'We recognize the role assigned to the OHCHR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) in effective promotion and protection of human rights. India was part of the first set of countries in the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. India's UPR report will be adopted in this session of the HRC. We are pleased to inform you that a large number of recommendations have been accepted.’
He said, 'We believe that the UPR is not an end in itself and that observance and promotion of human rights is an ongoing process that can be continuously strengthened.
'We are perplexed at some of the observations made by the high commissioner in his oral update. There appears to be inadequate appreciation of the freedoms and rights that are guaranteed and practiced daily in a vibrant democracy.
'Tendentious judgments made on the basis of selective and even inaccurate reports do not further the understanding of human rights in any society,' he added.
Mr.Chander pointed at the issue of Kashmir and said, 'We have also noted that the issue of human rights situations in Jammu and Kashmir has been raised. It is a matter of regret that the central role of terrorism is once again being overlooked. Assessments of human rights should not be a matter of political convenience.'
He further said that like many other nations, India is concerned about illegal migrants, in particular, with the possibility that they could pose security challenges and that enforcing the laws should not be mistaken for lack of compassion.
'It is surprising that individual incidents are being extrapolated to suggest a broader societal situation. India is proud of its independent judiciary, freedom of press, vibrant civil society and respect for rule of law and human rights.’
Delivering the opening statement at the 36th session of the Human Rights Council, Mr. Hussein had asked the Myanmar Government to stop claiming the Rohingyas were 'setting fire to their own homes and laying waste to their villages'.
He also expressed dismay at the 'broader rise of intolerance towards religious and other minorities in India', and alleged that those 'who spoke out for fundamental human rights faced threats'.
He added he deplored India's measures to deport the Rohingya refugees, noting that 'nearly 40,000 had settled in India and 16,000 of them had received refugee documentation'.
Meanwhile, a team of volunteers from Sikh organisation Khalsa Aid have reached the Bangladesh-Myanmar border to provide relief to the lakhs of families fleeing Myanmar. Mr.Amarpreet Singh, managing director, Khalsa Aid, said they had reached Teknaf, a border town in Bangladesh where the refugees are living in the camps, said that condition at the border was ‘miserable to say the least.
‘It was our first day here today and we did a pre-assessment before launching a major relief operation. We had come prepared for providing relief to some 50,000 people, but there are more than three lakh refugees here. They are living without water, food, clothes and shelter. It is raining, but people do not have anywhere to go. We will be providing them langar food (community kitchen) and shelter. We are arranging tarpaulins but since the number of refugees has overwhelmingly exceeded our preparations, it can (take) some time to make arrangements,’ he said.