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Politics Of Demonitization: Amnesty International Report Denounces India For Its Inhumane Economic Polices

February 23, 2017 | By

New Delhi: UK based human rights group Amnesty International on Wednesday here today tabled a report under the heading of “Politics Of Demonitization” that elaborates the paradoxical economic polices pursued by India which has lead to large scale abuses of right to livelihood of millions in India. The annual report for 2016 and 2017 further sheds light upon growing intolerance on the campus of the educational institutions and misusing colonial era laws of sedition in order to silence dissent and harassing human rights groups by invoking laws like FCRA.

Amnesty International [File Photo]

Moreover, Salil Shetty secretary general of amnesty international, said “Divisive fear-mongering has become a dangerous force in world affairs. “Today’s politics of demonization shamelessly peddles a dangerous idea that some people are less human than others.

The further details upon the report is being shared as follows:

‘Politics of demonization’ breeding division and fear

 

  • Amnesty International releases its Annual Report for 2016 to 2017
  • Civil society under assault across South Asia

 

Divisive politicians who promote a toxic and dehumanizing “us vs them” narrative are creating a more dangerous world, warned Amnesty International today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world.

The State of the World’s Human Rights, delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights around the world, covering 159 countries.

Global view:

“2016 was the year when the cynical use of ‘us vs them’ narratives of blame, hate and fear took on a global prominence to a level not seen since the 1930s,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary-General of Amnesty International.

Regional view:

“South Asia is seeing a worrying rollback of human rights as various governments invoke sovereignty and security to threaten freedoms, shrinking the space for human rights activists to operate and make their voices heard,” said Biraj Patnaik, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

“In India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, journalists and bloggers have been threatened, intimidated and even killed by non-state actors for exercising their right to freedom of expression. At the same time, across the region, old repressive laws are being used alongside new ones to limit human rights both online and offline.”

Politics of demonization drives global pushback on human rights.

Global view:

Seismic political shifts in 2016 exposed the potential of hateful rhetoric to unleash the dark side of human nature. The global trend of angrier and more divisive politics was exemplified by Donald Trump’s poisonous campaign rhetoric, but political leaders in various parts of the world also wagered their future power on narratives of fear, blame and division.

In 2016, governments also turned on refugees and migrants; often an easy target for scapegoating. The Annual Report documents how 36 countries violated international law by unlawfully sending refugees back to a country where their rights were at risk.

In India, repressive laws were used to curb freedom of expression and silence government critics. In a crackdown on civil society organizations, the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, or FCRA, was repeatedly invoked to harass organizations that receive foreign funding.

The crude, colonial-era Sedition Law was unleashed to silence government critics. Human rights activists and journalists faced intimidation and attacks from both state and non-state actors. Journalists Karun Mishra and Rajdeo Ranjan were killed, apparently for their reporting.

Journalists also came under attack in Pakistan, where they faced dangers like abduction, arbitrary arrest and detention, intimidation, killings and harassment by both state and non-state actors. A new law on cybercrimes – the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act – was passed in August, giving the authorities broad and potentially abusive powers to surveil citizens and censor online expression. In May, Khurram Zaki, a prominent human rights defender was gunned down by the Pakistani Taliban.

In Sri Lanka, Sandhya Eknaligoda – the wife of the disappeared dissident cartoonist Prageeth Eknalidoga – endured repeated threats and other intimidation after the police identified seven members of army intelligence as suspects in her husband’s case. She was subject to a smear campaign that included accusations that she was a supporter of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

In Bangladesh, bloggers continued to be slain even as members of religious minorities, academics and secular voices were slain by armed groups. Instead of the authorities taking action against these groups, they escalated a campaign to muzzle freedom of expression, detaining Facebook critics, arresting and arbitrarily detaining journalists, and using a vaguely worded Information and Communications Technology Act they threatened peaceful voices of online dissent.

In Nepal, attacks on freedom of expression by the state figured in a number of high-profile cases, targeting human rights defenders, opposition activists and a Canadian lawyer. Torture and other ill-treatment was used against protestors in the Tarai region, without being effectively investigated. People from marginalised communities continued to express dissatisfaction with constitutional amendments that failed to undo a ruinous legacy of discrimination.

World turns it’s back on mass atrocities

Amnesty International is warning that 2017 will see ongoing crises exacerbated by a debilitating absence of human rights leadership on a chaotic world stage. The politics of “us vs them” is also taking shape at the international level, replacing multilateralism with a more aggressive, confrontational world order.

The world faces a long list of crises with little political will to address them: including Afghanistan, Myanmar, Philippines, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Central America, Central African Republic, Burundi, Iraq, South Sudan and Sudan. Amnesty International’s Annual Report documented war crimes committed in at least 23 countries in 2016.

Despite these challenges, international indifference to war crimes has become an entrenched normality as the UN Security Council remains paralyzed by rivalries between permanent member states.

In Afghanistan, the war has not been winding down but widening, with the highest level of civilian deaths and injuries since the UN began compiling statistics in 2009. The widening conflict led to numbers of internally displaced people more than doubling over the past three years to nearly 1.5 million.

Even as Afghanistan faced an internal humanitarian crisis, the world turned its back on Afghan refugees and asylum-seekers. Pakistani authorities forcibly returned tens of thousands of Afghan refugees, sending them across the border where they may be at risk of serious human rights abuses, in breach of the principle of non-refoulement.

The European Union also shunned Afghans fleeing the conflict in their home country, signing agreements to return thousands of failed asylum-seekers even as it noted that violence in the country was on the rise.

In the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir, the security forces unleashed unnecessary and excessive force against demonstrators. Imposing a curfew across the valley for more than two months, and suspending private communications, it besieged people there, leaving them without access to urgent medical assistance.

In Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, armed groups continued to carry out large scale attacks that claimed many civilian lives. In August, a suicide bomb attack killed at least 63 people, mostly lawyers and wounded more than 50 others at the Civil Hospital in Quetta. Journalists based in the province or covering it remained at risk of human rights violations, while activists from the province were arrested or disappeared.

“The beginning of 2017 finds many of the world’s most powerful states pursuing narrower national interests at the expense of international cooperation. This risks taking us towards a more chaotic, dangerous world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

“A new world order where human rights are portrayed as a barrier to national interests makes the ability to tackle mass atrocities dangerously low, leaving the door open to abuses reminiscent of the darkest times of human history.

“The international community has already responded with deafening silence after countless atrocities in 2016: a live stream of horror from Aleppo, possible crimes against humanity in Myanmar and the Philippines, use of chemical weapons and hundreds of villages burned in Darfur. The big question in 2017 will be how far the world lets atrocities go before doing something about them.”

Who is going to stand up for human rights?

Amnesty International’s report warns that global solidarity and public mobilization will be particularly important to defend individuals who stand up to those in power and defend human rights, who are often cast by governments as a threat to economic development, security or other priorities.

“We cannot passively rely on governments to stand up for human rights, we the people have to take action. With politicians increasingly willing to demonize entire groups of people, the need for all of us to stand up for the basic values of human dignity and equality everywhere has seldom been clearer,” said Salil Shetty.

Background

Amnesty International has documented grave violations of human rights in 2016 in 159 countries.

India: The authorities used repressive laws to curb freedom of expression and silence critics. Human rights activists and organizations continued to face harassment and intimidation, and vigilante cow protection groups carried out several attacks. Thousands protested against discrimination and violence faced by Dalit communities. Millions opposed changes to labour laws. Marginalized communities continued to be frequently ignored in the government’s push for faster economic growth.

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