[Statement] India: End the systemic attack on Muslims
16 June 2022 5:45 pm
(Bangkok/Kathmandu, 16 June 2022) – The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) condemns the excessive use of force, arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions, and arbitrary demolition of properties of activists and protestors mainly belonging to the Muslim minority community in India.
‘The present crackdown against protestors in India is not just a violation of fundamental rights to peaceful assembly and expression, it is also emblematic of systemic targeting of Muslims who speak up against state-sponsored attacks and discrimination against the minority community. The demolition of these individuals’ homes is arbitrary and undoubtedly against the law. Worst of all, it has become a symbol of hate targeted against Muslims amidst growing Islamophobia in the country,’ said FORUM-ASIA.
FORUM-ASIA is deeply concerned about the attacks on Muslims in India, which have increased exponentially since 2014 after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came into power. The manner in which hate speeches are made by political leaders of BJP including its ministers is deeply troubling, as it triggers hate towards religious minorities, mainly Muslims including calls for ‘genocide’. Since 2014, India has witnessed a series of attacks on Muslims including, mob-lynching, riots, and arbitrary demolition of properties which are being done by non-state actors with total impunity from authorities.
Protests erupted in several states in India following derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad made by former spokespersons of BJP Nupur Sharma and Naveen Kumar Jindal in a primetime news debate last week. Though the protests remained peaceful, the police in at least eight states resorted to illegal and excessive use of force, resulting in at least two deaths and several injured, and hundreds arrested.
In Uttar Pradesh, a state ruled by the right-wing BJP, local authorities arbitrarily demolished the house of student activist Afreen Fatima on 10 June, claiming it was an illegal construction. Afreen was vocal in the ‘anti-CAA’ protests against exclusionary Indian citizenship laws that provides citizenship based on religion.
Local authorities failed to provide due notice ahead of the demolition of Afreen’s house, which clearly violates laws on the demolition of properties. Prior to the demolition of Afreen’s house, Afreen’s father Javed Mohammad, a minority rights activist, and other members of his family was illegally detained by the police. Authorities also illegally demolished properties belonging to others who participated in the protests against the comments on Prophet Muhammad.
The selective demolition of properties belonging to Muslims has worsened since April this year in the BJP-ruled state of Madhya Pradesh and also in New Delhi, despite an order by the Supreme Court staying the demolition drive. The houses and shops belonging to Muslims were demolished by authorities after provocation near mosques by Hindutva mobs during the Hindu festival of Ram Navami.
‘The targeting of properties of Muslims, especially dissenting voices, fall in the larger pattern of systematic discrimination against Muslims and in total violation of rule of law ensured by the Indian Constitution. Indian authorities should put an end to the ongoing attacks against minority groups and ensure the safety and protection of religious minorities. India has an obligation to respect its international human rights obligations and ensure accountability against all perpetrators involved,’ said FORUM-ASIA
‘We call upon the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRCI) to intervene in the systemic targeting of minority communities who are being targeted for expressing their fundamental rights. Inaction by the NHRCI will only enable systemic attacks against Muslims and other minorities in India to continue.’
‘The Indian government must respect and adhere to its constitutional and international human rights obligations. Indian authorities should ensure compliance to rule of law and prevent targeted attacks on Muslims and other minorities and end such state-sponsored and endorsed attacks.’
‘The international community should condemn the systemic attacks on Muslims that have been encouraged by the Indian government for political gains and call upon the Indian government to respect and protect all religious minorities in India, including Muslims, from systemic attack and targeting from state and non-state actors,’ said FORUM-ASIA.
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The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) is a network of 85 member organisations across 23 countries, mainly in Asia. Founded in 1991, FORUM-ASIA works to strengthen movements for human rights and sustainable development through research, advocacy, capacity development and solidarity actions in Asia and beyond. It has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and consultative relationship with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights. The FORUM-ASIA Secretariat is based in Bangkok, with offices in Jakarta, Geneva and Kathmandu. www.forum-asia.org
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