Tag Archives: Geneva

Human Rights Council General Debate: India puts Pakistan in the dock for spreading terror

Lalit Shastri

Stone pelting in Kashmir
Stone pelting in Kashmir

India used the Human Rights Council general debate in Geneva on the human rights situations requiring the Council’s attention as a platform to corner Pakistan by projecting that it was fabricating facts and figures over the situation in Kashmir.

Using its right of reply on 19 September, India stated that illegal occupation of 78,000 square kilometres of the Indian territory by Pakistan continues. The human rights violations in the whole of Pakistan cried out for the world’s attention. Religious and ethnic minorities continued to face discrimination and targeted attacks in Pakistan, and blasphemy laws remained in place. India also took the firm position that Pakistan should be well advised to bring its own house in order and combat terrorism.

Earlier India had targeted Pakistan for the role it was playing in spreading terror. India had stated that the main reason for disturbances in Kashmir is cross-border terrorism promoted by Pakistan which is so ruthless that it doesn’t shy away from using civilians and even children by putting them in harm’s way, at the forefront of violent mobs instigated and supported by their handlers from across the border. This also came as an answer to all those organisations that had parroted Pakistan’s bogey and hurled blasphemous charges against India on the issue of Kashmir. Many of these radical Islamist organisations will never utter a word on the violation of the rights of the Kashmiri Hindus who were residing in the Kashmir region of Jammu and Kashmir. A vast majority of Kashmir’s minority Hindu population was forced to leave the Kashmir valley and become refugees in their own country in 1990 and even later after a spate of violence and attacks targeting their community. Unfortunately the separatist leaders were hand in glove with the Pak-sponsored terrorists who were behind the ethnic cleansing.¹

The radicalisation of young children continues in Kashmir and behind this diabolic game-plan are those across the border who want to keep Kashmir on the boil and also those who  receive money and patronage from their handlers in Pakistan. So many boys in Kashmir valley, who were not even in their teens, had been radicalised to such an extent even in the pre-1971 war days that they used to miss no opportunity to target even the tourists visiting Kashmir from other parts of India. As if trained to follow a set pattern – they used to follow the tourists, generally in isolated parts of downtown Srinagar, and then, as if playing a role they were trained to perform, these kids would hurl abuses at the tourists and run away from the spot. The young boys leading the stone pelting mobs in Kashmir today  belong to the second and third generation of the radicalised sections of the population and they have been playing havoc with the law and order situation in Kashmir.

Speaking in a second right of reply, Pakistan stuck to Kashmir and accused India of trying to deflect attention from Jammu and Kashmir, stating that it was an internationally recognized dispute.

If India continued to flout international norms, then the international community had to address the situation in India as a whole, Pakistan said and even went to the extent of questioning the ideology of the Bharatiya Janata party led NDA Government in India. Pakistan equated the ruling party in India with “fascist tendencies” and said the Indian Government “openly espoused an ideology that portrayed Muslims and Christians as a threat to the society”. Pakistan rounded up its charge by saying the time had come to address the perverse ideology in India that supported State terrorism.

Pakistan’s baseless accusations against the ruling party in India and futile attempts to paint Kashmir as a disputed territory got buried under a volley of statements by organisations spread around the globe that categorically blamed Pakistan for violation of the human rights of women and unleashing a reign of terror against the Sindhi people and the native population of Pak occupied Kashmir and Baluchistan.

World Environment and Resources Council informed the Human Rights Council about gross human rights violations committed by Pakistan’s security forces against the Sindhi people. It was an operation to create fear among the Sindhi people in order to accept the highly controversial multi-billion project called China Pak Economic Corridor.

Commission to Study the Organization of Peace noted that Pakistan’s police excesses and torture in the Gilgit-Baltistan region were not a new phenomenon. There were no adequate checks and balances on society on the part of the Government and as a result police officers did not follow the rule of “no torture” during investigations.

International Association for Democracy in Africa stated that the Pakistani army had been violating human rights in Baluchistan and every year thousands of civilians would disappear. Later, their bodies would be recovered with bullet holes in their heads. It urged the United Nations to take action against such violations.

African Regional Agricultural Credit Association called the attention of the Council to the grave human rights situation in Balochistan, where the State agents were taking the women hostages in order to force their husbands to abandon their political struggle. Since the world’s biggest democracy, India, had expressed concern about the situation in Baluchistan, Pakistan had stepped up the repression.

Pan African Union for Science and Technology said that the violation of the human rights of women was rampant in Pakistan, and that life for women in Balochistan – Pakistan’s largest and least developed province – was particularly grim. Human development in this province had been intentionally neglected by successive central governments in order to benefit out of the vast and geostrategic location of the province and its extensive resources.

Commission to Study the Organization of Peace noted that Pakistan’s police excesses and torture in the Gilgit-Baltistan region were not a new phenomenon. There were no adequate checks and balances on society on the part of the Government and as a result police officers did not follow the rule of “no torture” during investigations.

International Association for Democracy in Africa stated that the Pakistani army had been violating human rights in Baluchistan and every year thousands of civilians would disappear. Later, their bodies would be recovered with bullet holes in their heads. It urged the United Nations to take action against such violations.

Action internationale pour la paix et le développement dans la région des Grands Lacs said that the area of Pakistan-administered Kashmir had been illegally held by Pakistan since 1947. Pakistan-administered Kashmir was supposed to be a self-governing territory, but it really had remained a colony of Pakistan. The Pakistani army had used the area of Pakistan Administered Kashmir for training purposes in areas bordering Indian Kashmir.

European Union of Public Relations said that the Human Rights Council had been created to ensure the safety of human rights around the world, but the human rights situation in Balochistan was deplorable. The Pakistan Army killed Balochs indiscriminately. The Council was urged, on behalf of the victims of human rights violations in Balochistan, to ensure their right to life.

Canners International Permanent Committee said that the right to development was based on human dignity and implied the right to self-determination and full sovereignty over wealth and natural resources. But in Balochistan province of Pakistan, the right to development was totally denied. Pakistan had always treated Balochistan as a colony. The ethnic Punjabi elite under the patronage of the Pakistan Government was determined to vandalise the natural resources of Balochistan.

Centre for Environmental and Management Studies said that the Pashtun minority in Pakistan had not been given any basic human rights. They were brutally killed, tortured, and bombarded by the Pakistani army in the name of the Zarb-e-Azb military operation. Pashtuns requested the international community to bring to trial in the International Criminal Court all those responsible, including the Army High Command, who ordered the massacre of Pashtun civilians.

United Schools International said that Pakistan used excessive brutality and torture in the region of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Numerous civilians had been prosecuted under military courts without a proper judicial process and without valid charges against them. The international community had to take proper note and expose those human rights violations.

Many organisations also targeted India on the issue of human rights. Liberation noted that the human rights situation of the 160 million Dalits in India required the Council’s attention. It urged the Council to recognize those acts as crimes against humanity and genocide, and to appoint a commission of inquiry to investigate the crimes against minorities in India.

World Barua Organization noted that scheduled castes, which constituted more than 15 per cent of the Indian population, continued to suffer from discrimination and persecution.

Indigenous People of Africa Coordinating Committee noted that the impunity for the crimes committed against the population of Jammu and Kashmir persisted. It urged the Council to recommend to the Government of India to review its laws, namely those pertaining to the military and security forces.

World Muslim Congress said that the Indian army was killing children because they had the courage to say that they were not, nor would they ever be a part of the State of India.

International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations said that the human rights situation in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir was worsening dramatically. India had created the most militarized part of the world in Kashmir, where one soldier terrorised every 17 Kashmiri civilians.

Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association stated that communal violence and the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in India required the Council’s attention. In spite of the progressive secular constitution and modern domestic human rights laws, wider impunity and killings of minority people in India was of serious concern.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development drew attention to the deteriorating human rights situations in several Asian countries and alleged that there was use of preventive detention in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir.

Association for the Protection of Women and Children’s Rights said that human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir had reached an alarming level.

Prahar said that India had taken several measures to repress victims of violence. The Government had taken action against Greenpeace India, including preventing a campaigner from travelling to the United Kingdom in January. The High Court had ruled that some of the steps taken had been illegal. The Council was asked to recommend to the Government of India not to put bans on non-governmental organizations for protecting the freedom of association.


¹ Kashmir: Ethnic cleansing, exodus of Kashmiri Hindus and the continuing crisis

Russia and the US working to launch a political process for peace in Syria

Newsroom24x7 Staff

Terrorist groups – Daesh and al-Qaida – continue to menace the Syrian people and the Syrian regime and opposition parties are on the brink of going back to a state of all-out war.‎ – US Secretary of State John Kerry

Aleppa bombingGeneva: Syrian warplanes targeted a funeral on Saturday morning in East Aleppo, killing many civilians who were mourning the deaths of at least a dozen people killed in barrel bombing earlier on Thursday. This was within hours after the US Secretary of State John Kerry had spoken to the international media about the Syrian crisis by pointing out that terrorist groups – Daesh and al-Qaida – continue to menace the Syrian people and the Syrian regime and opposition parties are on the brink of going back to a state of all-out war.‎
Kerry along with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was addressing media-persons in Geneva on Friday, 26 August, 2016. Presenting the ground picture, he told journalists that Aleppo continues to be besieged and bombarded by the Assad regime and its allies, including Iran, Russia, and Hizballah. And the regime had that very day forced the surrender of Daraya after a brutal four years of the siege and continues to take territory in the Damascus suburbs. This, he said, ran counter to two iterations of a previously announced cessation of hostilities. To discuss this, Kerry said, he was in Geneva to meet his Russian counterpart.

All those who possess the special operation forces and other divisions of armed forces on the ground in Syria will have to realize that priorities need to be set, and choosing among those priorities I am confident no one will be able to turn a blind eye to the problem of terrorists, ISIL, and Jabhat al-Nusrah. – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov

Kery touched the emotional chord by drawing attention to the photograph of two young boys from Aleppo, one of whom died in the ambulance and how the entire world has been shaken by this image. It should motivate all of us to get the job done, to provide for a real ceasefire, and to meet the needs of the Syrian people, Kerry went on to observe.

The situation, Kerry stated, has dramatically deteriorated since the brief oasis of calm that followed the launch of the cessation of hostilities in February this year. Expressing satisfaction, Kerry said that Sergey Lavrov and he were able to work together with other colleagues in the international community through the International Syria Support Group and were able to cobble together the concept of the cessation of hostilities.

Kerry said: “Well into March of this year, Syrians had benefited from a degree of calm they had not experienced in years. For a period of time, the cessation of hostilities held. And the cessation – even flawed – became something of real value to them. For a brief moment, a brief instant, life changed in some communities. People sat in cafes. People went out and began to try to resume life again, but that was lost. And it was lost because of the lack of accountability and the inability to be able to deal with violations.

So as much as we have all seen a benefit to the humanitarian assistance that was delivered – some communities that hadn’t seen humanitarian assistance in years got it. More than a million people were able to be served with humanitarian assistance. And the cessation – even flawed – was valuable.”

Giving a narrative of what has been unfolding, Kerry said hat violations eventually became the norm rather than the exception. And the regime continually pressed its military objectives in key strategic locations, and continued indiscriminate aerial bombardment of densely populated areas with barrel bombs, and as the UN report points out, also chlorine.

Sergey Lavrov from Russia may dispute his narrative, Kerry said adding, he just laid out and attribute most of the regime actions to Nusrah. Obviously, there is illegitimate Nusrah activity and we are all opposed to that, said the US Secretary of State as he went on to assert that Nusrah has never been part of the cessation. The fact that people are going after Nusrah in some cases is true but in other cases it’s clearly, by virtue of the evidence of children and women and hospitals and other things, clearly not the case, observed Kerry.

Kerry informed media-persons that he and Sergey had reached anagreement in Moscow last month after discussions with Russian President Putin on a broad set of concrete steps to achieve a meaningful, lasting ceasefire. After that both sides – the US and Russia – have been engaged in a series of technical discussions primarily aimed at making cessation real, allowing for humanitarian assistance and getting the parties to the table for serious negotiations to end the war. Nevertheless, he went on point out that some narrow issues are still remaining that need to be resolved.

Kerry emphasised that the conflict in Syria will not end without a political solution. Once the narrow issues are resolveed, UN Special Envoy Staffen de Mistura will bring the parties to the table for a political transition.

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov referred to Aleppo and said although we are focused mostly on Aleppo, we also touched upon the situation in Manbij, in Hasakah and many other parts of Syria. We also discussed the humanitarian situation in Iraq, in Yemen, where the international observers keep informing on the gravest humanitarian situation.

Lavrov said while discussing those gravest problems and sufferings of people we should adopt an approach not of journalists or people who express their emotions taking to one side or another, but rather as professionals, as diplomats, that together the military should find concrete solutions. Kerry’s visit to Moscow on 15 July was very useful and the basic principles that were agreed upon during their negotiations and reinstated during the meeting that took place between Kerry and Putin had been followed up in Geneva, he added.

Lavrov was forthcoming in telling journalists that they were going to work together with the parties – Russia with the government and the opposition that is cooperating with Russia and United States with the opposition that is cooperating with them, as well as with regional players. Both are going to do that together to remove all stumbling blocks on the way towards the compliance with the cessation of hostilities.

Stressing the problem, Lavrov said that the troops cooperating with the United States or under U.S.-led coalition are located on the territory where Jabhat al-Nusrah is located. Not only are they located there, sometimes they are cooperating with Jabhat al-Nusrah, and within the framework of their operations, without delineating adequate opposition from terrorists, I don’t think there would be a way to ensure actionable, durable, and full-fledged cessation of hostilities – our overarching priority, by the way. And I note with satisfaction that there is a current understanding regarding this task, and this understanding is become more clear. We talked about specific detailed steps. We have agreed upon almost all of those steps, but some final things need to be finalized, particularly regarding the ensuring the humanitarian access to the Syrian people who need it first and foremost in the Aleppo regions both in eastern and western parts of Aleppo.

Lavrov further said: “we have agreed to step up our bilateral contacts that have been put on hold over the last couple of weeks. I’m referring to the contacts between our representatives in Geneva which until recently took place on a daily basis. And I’m talking about the contacts between the Russian military base in Khmeimim and representatives of the American command located in Amman, the capital of Jordan. I believe that the day-to-day dialogue without any interruptions will be a key to addressing all the goals we are facing.”

The Political process, emphasised by Kerry, is our utmost priority Lavrov said adding to come closer to this priority, we are going to ensure the calming down of the situation on the ground so we would ensure improved humanitarian assistance being delivered. But here there can be no preliminary conditions. If we want to wait until the situation is 100 percent calm and only then proceed with the political process, I believe nothing could be achieved at all. All of the things are interconnected. Yes, indeed, reducing violence would be instrumental in bringing all the sides to the table. But in the same way, the launch of the negotiations would help reduce violence on the ground and be more efficient in having an influence on opposing sides both on the side of Russia and United States.

Answering apointed query about delinking the moderate opposition forces from terrorists Lavrov said: “we know that this task is very difficult because Jabhat al-Nusrah keeps transforming, changing names, coming up with new umbrellas under which they bring together various groups which aren’t formally part of Jabhat al-Nusrah.”

Lavrov went on to state that in Syria there are a number of countries represented through the military and armed forces on the ground. They entered Syria without the consent of the Syrian authorities. In the context of the Russian and Iranian troops, he said that the Iranian forces are on the ground upon the request of the Syrian authorities. And according to the balanced pragmatic approach, there are statements from Damascus according to which they are willing to cooperate with all those who want to fight against terrorism.

Lavrov was piercing as he stated that at the beginning some stakeholders planned to use their forces to weaken Assad’s regime, but now everyone understands that one cannot make these mistakes once again, as happened in Afghanistan and Iraq wherein similar attempts were made. The same took place in Libya, and right now we can see the echoes of it far from the territory of Libya.

The Russian Foreign Minister also emphasised that all those who possess the special operation forces and other divisions of armed forces on the ground in Syria will have to realize that priorities need to be set, and choosing among those priorities I am confident no one will be able to turn a blind eye to the problem of terrorists, ISIL, and Jabhat al-Nusrah.

On the Turkish presence on the Syrian ground, including the Kurds factor Lavrov said that together with his American colleagues he would like to confirm the need to promptly launch a political process with the participation of all the Syrian parties without any exceptions. The Kurds also should be involved in this process. They should remain part of the Syrian state, and they should be part of the solution rather than an actor that’s going to be used to atomize and fragment Syria that would also have a fallout effect in other areas of the region, and no one is interested in that.

Combating the menace of black money is a shared priority of India and Switzerland: Narendra Modi

Newsroom24x7 Staff

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of the Swiss Confederation  Johann Schneider-Ammann
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of the Swiss Confederation Johann Schneider-Ammann

Geneva: Combating the menace of “black money” and tax evasion is our shared priority, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi said here today in the presence of Swiss President Schneider-Ammann.

Jointly addressing the media with the Swiss President, Modi said: “We discussed the need for an early and expeditious exchange of information to bring to justice the tax offenders Modi said adding an early start to negotiations on the Agreement on Automatic Exchange of Information would be important in this respect.”

India and Switzerland, the Prime Minister went on to state, share a commitment to reform international institutions in line with current global realities. We have both agreed to support each other for our respective bids for the non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council. I am also thankful to the President for Switzerland’s understanding and support for India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Modi further said that India and Switzerland have both been the voices of peace, understanding and humanitarian values in the world. In last seven decades, our friendship has consistently seen an upward trajectory. Today, President and I reviewed our multifaceted bilateral ties. We also held detailed discussions with Swiss CEOs.

The economic links between India and Switzerland are strong and vibrant, Modi pointed out adding many Swiss companies are household names in India. Ties of collaboration in trade, investment, science and technology and skill development benefit both our societies. India has affirmed it’s readiness to resume FTA talks with EFTA. We are all aware of the strengths of the Swiss economy. But, India too is undergoing profound transformations. We are today the fastest growing economy in the world. But, that alone is not enough. I want the Indian economy to be driven by smart and sustainable cities, robust farm sector, vibrant manufacturing and dynamic service sector. And, its engines to run on world class network of rail, roads, airports and digital connectivity. Where a home for everyone, and electricity in every home is a reality. And, its 500 million plus youth is skilled and ready to meet the global needs of manpower. President and I agreed to build on the Swiss Vocational and Educational Training system suited to India’s needsYesterday we observed World Environment Day. In tune with its objectives and India’s civilizational ethos an economically prosperous India will also be friendly to the planet and our environment. Reliance on renewable energy, rather than on fossil fuels would be our guiding motto.
Modi said that India sees a perfect connect between its development needs and Swiss strengths. Emphasising this, he invited the Swiss companies to avail of this great opportunity to be a key partner in India’s economic growth. Ultimately, the economic prosperity of 1.25 billion plus would also benefit the entire world.
Modi drew attention to the Indian film industry and spoke of the enchanting beauty of the Swiss landscapes. At the same time, he aid that India is keen to welcome larger number of Swiss visitors to India.For this, India has opened the facility of e-Tourist Visa for Swiss nationals earlier this year.

Pointing to success stories of the relationship between the two countries, the Prime Minister said that one of these making waves in the Grand Slams of the tennis world is the partnership of famous Swiss player Martina Hingis with Sania Mirza and Leander Paes of India. He said that he is confident that the common commitments and values, people to people links and a strong and growing economic partnership will take the relations between the two countries to new heights.

Indian PM Narendra Modi leaves for Washington DC concluding his Geneva visit on June 6
Indian PM Narendra Modi leaves for Washington DC concluding his Geneva visit on June 6

Later during the day, on concluding his Geneva visit, the Prime Minister left for Washington DCon June 6, 2016

 

“political stability, consensus and predictability is a pre-requisite for Nepal’s socio-economic development”

Newsroom24x7 Desk

nepal infrastructureGeneva: India on Wednesday welcomed the delegation of Nepal for the adoption of the Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Nepal at 31st Session of Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva.

Welcoming the adoption of the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review held on 4 November 2015, India said in a statement-

“The UPR review reflected the intense participation and engagement by peer countries, with as many as 73 delegations taking the floor and 195 recommendations addressed to Nepal that cover a range of human rights both in the realm of promotion and protection. It is encouraging to note that Nepal accepted as many as 152, which is nearly 80%, of the total recommendations.

Right to development is a fundamental human right. A climate of political stability, consensus and predictability is a pre-requisite for Nepal’s socio-economic development, particularly in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in April 2015. As the principal donor in global support for Nepal’s post-earthquake reconstruction, India urges a strong national consensus in Nepal on its political and developmental agenda.

We regard the two Constitutional amendments passed by the Nepali Parliament in January 2016 as positive developments. We hope that other remaining issues will be similarly addressed in a constructive spirit in a defined timeframe.

India believes that Nepal has gained much from its participation in the UPR and will continue with its efforts to implement its recommendations. India will continue to extend all support and assistance to Nepal, for peace, stability and socio-economic development of the country.”