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Australian Greens: India rounding up critics in shadow of Covid-19, abuses exacerbate

Larissa Waters created history in 2017 by breastfeeding her baby in the senate
By Our Representative
In a surprise move, the Australian Greens, the third largest party in the country, is up arms against the Government of India for alleged human rights violations amidst Covid-19 pandemic. Close on the heels of the Greens of the New South Wales senate asking the Australian government to include human rights clause in trade negotiations with India, Larissa Walters, leader of the Greens in the federal senate, accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “rounding up critics in the shadow of the virus.” 
Pointing towards how, over the last six months, the world's attention has been “diverted to the response to the Covid-19 crisis”, Walters said, giving examples of “human rights abuses that continue to occur unabated around the world in spite of the pandemic”, regretted, “In some cases, the abuses have been exacerbated by the pandemic”, even as devoting most of her time on how this is happening in India.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said this week that Covid-19 has fuelled authoritarian trends”, she said on September 3, adding, “As the UN Special Rapporteur, on the situation of human rights defenders, recently said, the pandemic means that we need to do more to protect human rights activists.”
Walters underlined, “Indian authorities have arrested dozens in a nationwide crackdown, with arrests based on scant evidence. Those who have been detained include a youth activist who raised awareness of police violence against Muslims, an academic who opposes the government's dangerous anti-Muslim citizenship law, and a co-founder of a women's collective.”
Coming down heavily on India’s Kashmir policy, she said, “Authorities continue to impose harsh and discriminatory measures in Kashmir just over a year after the Indian government drastically eroded Kashmiris' right to self-determination. To quell dissent and to keep away news from the outside world, it continues to maintain stifling restraints, with widespread detention and drastic limits to the internet, to name a few abuses.”
Walters also spoke about how in the Philippines, “Duterte's brutal drug war goes on”, leading to the murder of human rights activists; the “egregious abuses against the Uighur people” in China, which got “exacerbated by the pandemic”; and the Ethiopian crackdown “following the killing of popular Oromo artist and activist Hachalu Hundessa, leading to detention of “dozens of opposition members and journalists” , often without charge.
The Greens want Australian government to renegotiate trade agreement with India in order to include a human rights clause in it
“I urge the government to actively call out global atrocities and abuses, even as our attention is turned inward to our domestic response to the Covid-19 pandemic”, she concluded.
Earlier, on August 27, Greens senator David Shoebridge in the New South Wales Senate, who moved a motion against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), said, “India’s constitution commits it to democracy, equality, secularism asymmetrical federalism, and the protection of freedom of speech”, and yet, “In December 2019, India enacted CAA which discriminates on the grounds of religion and the provision of citizenship.”
Stating that “the citizenship legislation is effectively being used to revoke the citizenship of religious minorities and will result in statelessness for many vulnerable, marginalized groups”, Shoebridge noted that as a result of this Act large number of people have been declared foreigners, are are at risk of “statelessness by citizenship verification processes of questionable legality.”
He also said, in India “protests and dissent have been met with an authoritarian government response and civil liberties have been dramatically curtailed”, adding, “Not only were protesters subject to police violence during the protests, but intellectuals, activists, and students who were active in the anti-CAA protest scenario have been arrested amidst the Covid-19 lockdown, in the aftermath of violence in northeast Delhi.”
He called upon the Australian government to include these human rights violations “as part of its broader engagement with the Modi administration”, insisting on a renegotiated “trade agreement between Australia and India” in order to “include a human rights clause.”

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