Former UN official demands action to prevent genocide in India

Muslims in India. Editorial credit: arindambanerjee

The former UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide, Juan E Mendez, has urged the international community to demand action against hate crimes that are being perpetrated against minorities in India.

He called the situation in India “dangerous” and “deeply disturbing.” India is home to more than 200 million Muslims and Mendez said “genocide could very well happen in India.”

In an interview with Al Jazeera, he said: “The calls for active violence are much more dangerous and part of the equation, and particularly in this context, it could lead to some people taking those calls seriously, acting on them, and provoking others, too…

“After all, making calls for killing millions in any legal context is a crime, the crime of threats at the very least. And so, if there is no appropriate response to it by the government, then I think the international community needs to demand action to limit the possible effects of speech of that sort.”

In India, many radical Hindu groups have been making calls for genocide against Muslims and broadcasting them on their social media channels as well as sharing them in private WhatsApp groups. Multiple videos have emerged in the last few months where radical Hindu groups have been actively cheering and amplifying violence against minority groups, including Muslims and Christians.

Juan E Mendez. Pic: United Nations

The leaders of multiple Hindu groups have been asking their supporters to arm themselves for the extermination of Muslims. One leader speaking to the crowd said: “Even if just a hundred of us become soldiers and kill two million of them, we will be victorious … If you stand with this attitude only then will you able to protect ‘sanatana dharma’ (another name for Hinduism).”

While some people have been arrested, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, a life-long member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a radical Hindu group in India, has not commented about incitement of violence.

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“One of them [duties of the government] obviously is to investigate, persecute and punish those who have committed crimes under Indian law. Not doing that constitutes violations of the Genocide Convention,” Mendez said.

Regarding the alert over India issued by the U.S.-based Genocide Watch and its founder Gregory Stanton, Mendez said: “I think Genocide Watch is a very prestigious organisation and its opinion should be carefully considered. Stanton’s ten Stages of Genocide is a highly respected way of anticipating and preventing genocidal crimes. The usefulness of this model is that it calls for attention to not only the fact that there are populations at risk – in this case, the Muslim minorities in India – but also to the actions that need to be taken for retardation of that situation…

“The organisation does its work by not senselessly just applying a model but analysing the facts on the ground. But let me say, as a former adviser on the prevention of genocide, that I agree this sort of genocide calls and expressions are of international concern.”

Regarding the responsibility of the international community and UN in the prevention of yet another genocide, he said: “I do think there is a role that the international community has to spark sooner rather than later. The facts on the ground are serious enough that some expression of concern comes from the international forums like UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council (UNSC), and UN Human Rights Council.  That should happen soon.”

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