The News – India’s divisive policies marginalising Muslims, other minorities: UN HR chief

New York – New York State – USA, 08 March 2019. United Nations Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet has warned India that its “divisive policies” have extensively marginalised Muslims and other minorities in the country.

“India’s narrow political agendas are marginalising Muslims and other minorities in an already unequal society,” she said in her annual report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“I fear that these divisive policies will not only harm many individuals, but also undermine the success of India’s economic growth story.”

“We are receiving reports that indicate increasing harassment and targeting of minorities, in particular, Muslims and people from historically disadvantaged and marginalised groups, such as Dalits and Adivasis,” she said in her annual report.

Expressing concern over the ongoing tensions in the Indian-occupied Kashmir, she said her office was ready to investigate the situation on the ground.

“I remain concerned about the ongoing tensions in occupied Kashmir, as shelling and firing on both sides of Line of Control continue to contribute to loss of life and displacement,” Bachelet said.

“I encourage and invite both India and Pakistan to my office to monitor the situation on the ground, and to assist both the states to address the human rights issues that must be part of any solution to the conflict,” she added.

A day earlier, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reiterated his call to Pakistan and India to “de-escalate the tensions” between them as the situation in the region continues to pose threat to peace and security.

“We are fully aware of the situation,” Guterres’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, adding that the UN chief was in touch with both sides at various levels to “express his concern and the need to do as much as anyone can to de-escalate the tensions.”

However, he added the secretary-general had not yet spoken to the prime ministers of the two countries, Imran Khan and Narendra Modi, “as far as I am aware.”

Pakistan Today – Big Sikh rally in New York demands Khalistan as Indian minister addresses UNGA

New York – New York State – USA, 01 October 2018. Waving placards like “Free Punjab, End Indian occupation” and “Modi (is) face of Indian terrorism”, hundreds of Sikhs staged a rally in front of the UN building in New York, as the Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addressed the UN General Assembly on Saturday.

The demonstration organized by Sikhs For Justice (SFJ), a civil rights group which is campaigning for a “Azaad Punjab-Khalistan”, denounced Ms. Swaraj for propagating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “fascist agenda”.

Earlier, “Sikhs for Justice” submitted at UN Headquarters a legal opinion, entitled, “Self-Determination For The Sikh Peoples – An Overview of Internationnal Law”, addressed to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, emphasizing holding of a referendum in 2020, a democratic process for the Sikhs to vote ‘for’ or ‘against’ an independent homeland within the Indian state of Punjab.

The UN chief is scheduled to visit India next week, and a visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar is on his schedule.

A SFJ communique to the UN chief provides supporting documents on the usurpation of Sikh religion’s identity in Indian Constitution, the June 1984 Amritsar massacre as also the Indian army invasion of Golden Temple, saying, We respectfully request that you urge the Indian Government (1) to respect the Sikh’s right to hold Referendum 2020 and (2) to stop violating Sikh’s basic human rights”, according to a press release.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to the SFJ “Through legal opinion and documentation, we are putting the UN Secretary-General on notice that Referendum 2020 is a democratic process for Sikhs to vote ‘for’ or ‘against’ an independent homeland within Punjab, but the Indian State authorities continue to commit grave human rights violations in their quest to stop this referendum”.

Citing International Law of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence in Respect of Kosovo, “As per international law, peoples who have been denied self-determination within their parent state may, in exceptional circumstances, lawfully pursue external self-determination via secession and independence”, Pannun added.

Quoting an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, Pannun, a lawyer who practices human rights laws, stated that “a sub-group (the Sikhs) may lawfully conduct an independence referendum, and even declare independence, without the agreement of the parent state (in this case – India)”.

“Due to the relentless persecution and oppressive by India, Sikhs face an existential threat within their ancestral homeland. It is essential that the Sikh people are given an opportunity to voice their opinion on the question of external self-determination through Referendum 2020.

We welcome your intervention during your upcoming trip to India and the Punjab,” SFJ’s communique said.