Skip to main content

India's top human rights defenders are facing reprisal for cooperating with United Nations: UN annual report

By Rajiv Shah
The United Nations (UN) secretary-general’s annual report to the ongoing 39th session of the Human Rights Council has taken strong exception to the manner the Government of India has been using “reprisals” against the human rights defenders who have been “cooperating” with the United Nations’ (UN’s) different panels.
Citing four major cases, the report says, one of them – reported by the UN assistant secretary-general for human rights this year – is of Khurram Parvez, who was detained under the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) Public Safety Act, 1978, because his activities were allegedly “prejudicial to public order.”
The report recalls, in 2017, too, the secretary-general, had referred to “intimidation and reprisals” against Parvez, chairperson of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, and programme coordinator of Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Societies (JKCCS), in relation to his cooperation with the Human Rights Council, the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances and the Universal Periodic Review.”
The report asserts, “These reprisals took the form of a travel ban and arbitrary arrest and detention, reportedly because Parvez was fomenting an ‘anti-India narrative’, propagating separatism, and inciting others to violence.”
It adds, “Reprisals were apparently taken against him for documenting and sharing information with the UN on human rights violations in J&K, including on behalf of victims.”
Kartik Murukutla
“At the time of his preventive detention of 76 days in 2016, he was accused in four criminal cases, which were subsequently dropped by the J&K High Court who held that he had been detained arbitrarily”, the report says, adding, “However, the police have still filed First Information Reports before a court in Srinagar for three cases, for which he is awaiting hearings.”
Praising Parvez to be “a source of information collected from June 2016 to April 2018 for an OHCHR report published in June 2018 on the human rights situation in J&K and has reportedly suffered reprisals for his assistance”, the report believes, “Defaming content against the JKCCS and Parvez is reportedly being circulated by a group that claims to have ISIS affiliation.”
This group, says the report, “has publicly incited death threats against Parvez and his family, and used slanderous language against the work of the JKCCS.”
Yet another human rights defender who is facing “state reprisal”, believes the report, is a JKCCS member Kartik Murukutla, who “represents victims of human rights violations before local courts and engages with UN human rights mechanisms.”
The report states, “In September 2016, while traveling to Geneva, Murukutla was informed that he was subject to a ‘Look Out Circular’, a measure taken where a case has been registered against an individual by a police authority in order to verify whether a travelling person is wanted by the police.”
The ‘Look Out Circular’ is used by the police authorities “to prevent and monitor the entry or exit of persons who may be required by law enforcement agencies”, the report asserts, adding, “There is concern that this measure was taken against Murukutla as a reprisal for his cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms in Geneva.”
The report adds, “It was reported in May 2018 Murukutla was not subject to restrictions during his most recent travels, but he had not been informed about the status of the Look Out Circular nor its implications for his future travel.”
Henri Tiphagne
A third case the report refers to is that of Henri Tiphagne, a well-known human rights defender, who head the Centre for Promotion of Social Concerns (CPSC).
Pointing out that it is a clear case where India’s Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010, is being misused “to restrict the work of NGOs cooperating with UN”, the report says, CPSC, also known as People’s Watch, the report says, was “refused to renew the organization’s license to receive foreign funding under Article 6 of the FCRA and CPSC’s bank accounts were frozen.”
While this happened in October 2016 at the behest of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the report regrets, “The refusal was subsequently upheld by the High Court of New Delhi in January 2017.” Best that as it may, the report thinks, non-renewal of CPSC’s license is “a clear case of reprisal for his cooperation with the UN.”
Pointing out that “the case is still pending before the court following a April 13, 2018 hearing, and has been adjourned to August 31”, the report notes, Tiphagne “was accused of using foreign contributions in his international advocacy ‘to the detriment of India’s image’, including in his engagement with UN special rapporteurs to whom he submitted information ‘portraying India’s human rights record in negative light’.”
Yet another case cited in the report is that of the Centre for Social Development (CSD), “which promotes the land and resource rights of indigenous peoples in Manipur.” It says, the suspension of CSD’s FCRA license was “on claims that CSD violated FCRA by using foreign funding for purposes other than intended by the law, including drawing attention to uranium mining in Meghalaya at ‘several global platforms’.”
Nobokishore Urikhimbam
According to the report, CSD “submitted a report in October 2017 to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights and to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which included inquiries related to uranium mining and cement factories in Meghalaya.”
CSD, the report notes, has in all submitted nine reports to the United Nations since 2006 concerning violations of the rights of indigenous peoples in northeast India in relation to large-scale development projects, mining operations, and implementation of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. They have requested the Committee’s action under its early warning procedure.
CSD, says the report, include is being “targeted by Indian authorities since August 2017, when surveillance of its premises and staff’s movements began. The offices of the organization were reportedly visited by the Central Reserve Policy Force and others to question the staff about their work, and staff have been harassed.”
It adds, “One staff member was physically attacked on 18 August 2017. In November 2017, one staff member and two volunteers of the organization were called in for questioning by the police.”
The report adds, “CSD secretary Nobokishore Urikhimbam has been surveyed by military intelligence officials from the State of Manipur as well as those outside of the state at his office premises and at his home in Imphal, Manipur. When he travelled to Shillong, State of Meghalaya in January 2018, the Intelligence Department of Meghalaya contacted the hotel and interrogated its staff about his actions and contacts.”

Comments

Urvashi Devi said…
Am very suspicious of these NGOs. In the name of human rights the misuse the money donated to them. I had a personal experiences, when I was Minister and went to Washington. There was a lady collecting money saying it was for mothers and babies dying in Rajpipla; I confronted her on stage; she didn't even know where Rajpipla was in Gujarat ��. Take the case of Teesta ��.They only do this Natak to get funds. Have also seen Medha Patkar. They don't help anyone except themselves.

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.