Ambassador Rajiv K Chander, the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, on Tuesday expressed its disapproval with remarks made by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, saying that there appeared to be an inadequate appreciation of the freedoms and rights, which are guaranteed and practised daily in a vibrant democracy that has been built under challenging conditions, in his speech.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had, on Monday, described the situation of Myanmar's Rohingya minority as a 'textbook example of ethnic cleansing' and criticised both Yangon and New Delhi, the latter for seeking to deport Rohingyas who fled to India.
'We recognise the role assigned to the OHCHR (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) in effective promotion and protection of human rights.
'India was part of the first set of countries in the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review. India's UPR report will be adopted in this session of the HRC. We are pleased to inform you that a large number of recommendations have been accepted.
'We believe that the UPR is not an end in itself and that observance and promotion of human rights is an ongoing process that can be continuously strengthened,' Chander said, in response to the oral update of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, at the 36th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
'We are perplexed at some of the observations made by the high commissioner in his oral update. There appears to be inadequate appreciation of the freedoms and rights that are guaranteed and practised daily in a vibrant democracy that has been built under challenging conditions.
'Tendentious judgements made on the basis of selective and even inaccurate reports do not further the understanding of human rights in any society,' he added.
Chander then pointed at the issue of Kashmir and said, 'We have also noted that the issue of human rights situations in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir has been raised. It is a matter of regret that the central role of terrorism is once again being overlooked. Assessments of human rights should not be a matter of political convenience.'
'India believes that achieving human rights goals calls for objective consideration, balanced judgments and verification of facts. Our government's motto of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' that is All Together and Development for All, is a true reflection of our commitment to achieve inclusive development in the spirit of leaving none of our citizens behind,' he added.
Chander further said that like many other nations, India is concerned about illegal migrants, in particular, with the possibility that they could pose security challenges and that enforcing the laws should not be mistaken for lack of compassion.
'It is also surprising that individual incidents are being extrapolated to suggest a broader societal situation. India is proud of its independent judiciary, freedom of press, vibrant civil society and respect for rule of law and human rights.
'A more informed view would have not only recognised this but also noted, for example, that the prime minister himself publicly condemned violence in the name of cow protection. India does not condone any actions in violation of law and imputations to the contrary are not justified,' he said.
Delivering the opening statement at the 36th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein had asked the Myanmar Government to stop claiming the Rohingyas were 'setting fire to their own homes and laying waste to their villages'.
Al Hussein also expressed dismay at the 'broader rise of intolerance towards religious and other minorities in India', and alleged that those 'who spoke out for fundamental human rights faced threats'.
Al Hussein added he deplored India's measures to deport the Rohingya refugees, noting that 'nearly 40,000 had settled in India and 16,000 of them had received refugee documentation'.
IMAGE: Rohingya refugee children are stopped by volunteers as they jostle to receive food distributed by local organisations in Kutupalong, Bangladesh. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters