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European Parliament Member Expresses Concerns About Human Rights Violations In India; Says 'True Democracy Can't Fall Into Authoritarian Rule'

Awstika Das
25 Jan 2023 4:34 PM GMT
European Parliament Member Expresses Concerns About Human Rights Violations In India; Says True Democracy Cant Fall Into Authoritarian Rule

While the coming into force of the Constitution marks an important moment in the history of India, the celebrations of this day are shadowed by urgent human rights violations in the country, said Finnish Green League politician and member of the European Parliament, Alviina Alametsä. Revealing that as the standing rapporteur for India in the European Union’s law-making body, she recently visited India for the first time, where she met human rights activists, officials, journalists, and scholars to discuss the state of India's democracy and human rights, the legislator said, “I witnessed these human rights violations when travelling in India. When I met these human rights defenders, I was shocked at how many of them work under very restricted circumstances, in an unpredictable and risky environment. Their offices have been shut down; their funds frozen. I met respectable, hardworking non-governmental organisations that now have to work totally underground. Many international organizations have been forced to leave the country. Many activists have been detained without due process, and others silenced.” Those who dare to speak, Alametsä added, said the same thing that none of them would have been able to predict the nature of the socio-political climate that currently prevails in India, 10 years ago.

Alametsä was invited as a guest at a parliamentary briefing on the topic ‘Taking stock of constitutional rights protection in India’ ahead of the Indian Republic Day celebrated on January 26. This virtual event was organised by The London Story, a think-tank run by the Indian diaspora in the European Union. Also in attendance were Senior Advocate Anand Grover and Advocates Prashant Bhushan and Shahrukh Alam.

In a video message, Alametsä expressed deep concern over the growing trend of activists being imprisoned, minorities being attacked, and media being repressed in India. “These are indicators of the erosion of human rights and freedoms. Police abuse and killings are not just extremely unfortunate instances but are parts of actions to control the critical voices,” she said. Sounding a note of caution against the emergence of authoritarian forces, the legislator said, “To be a true democracy, India cannot fall into authoritarian rule. The people in India need the protection of their constitutional rights from their government, the justice system, and the whole society.”

Speaking about EU-India cooperation in the realm of human rights, Alametsä said, “Defending human rights should be at the core of the EU-India partnership. When freedom of speech and democratic opposition are at risk within a country, their international partners must cooperate and hold each other accountable.” She also highlighted the importance of the EU and India returning to the ‘shared process of human rights dialogue’ after a ‘long pause’. According to her, this would require formulating more concrete common goals and milestones, as well as increased clarity about the actions each party is committed to in order to make progress. She added, “Both EU and India need to encourage and support each other in order to ensure that human rights are realised in practice. This is our duty towards our people in India and in Europe.”

“The situation in India is deteriorating fast yet hope remains. Activists keep fighting, organizations keep operating, and free media keeps reporting. All of this work is for the minorities, the poor and those forgotten and discriminated against,” the Finnish politician concluded on a hopeful note, “This year marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Similar developments shadow the celebration of human rights on a global scale, as they do in India on this Republic Day. This is why it is ever more important for the democracies of the world to work closely together as the world's largest official democracy. India is at the heart of this cooperation. The democratic world needs India. We need to ensure that.”

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