UN Official Says He Tried to Engage With Pakistan, India on Kashmir

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United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. — Reuters

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged all nations “to do more, to speak louder and work harder for the common purpose and for universal human rights law, to better our chances for a global peace.”

Web Report

NEW DELHI — In the opening statement at the 38th session of the Human Rights Council, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged all nations “to do more, to speak louder and work harder for the common purpose and for universal human rights law, to better our chances for a global peace.”

Zeid, in his address, spoke about violations in Syria, Myanmar, Burundi, Nicaragua, India and Pakistan.

Zeid Raad Al Hussein said on Monday that he has sought to engage with both India and Pakistan for two years regarding the situation in Kashmir, on both sides of the Line of Control.

“I have sought to engage substantively with both India and Pakistan over the past two years regarding the situation in Kashmir, on both sides of the Line of Control. Refusals by both India and Pakistan to enable unconditional access have led us to conduct remote monitoring, with a first report issued last week. I encourage the Council to consider establishing a Commission of Inquiry for a more comprehensive investigation of the human rights situation in Kashmir, and reiterate my calls for access.

“I am tremendously saddened by the assassination last week of Shujaat Bukhari, a courageous human rights defender actively working for peace, including through his participation in the Track Two diplomacy seeking to help both India and Pakistan put an end to the violence,” he said.

The United Nations released the first-ever report on alleged human rights violation in Kashmir and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and demanded an international probe into it, evoking a sharp reaction from India which termed the document as “fallacious and motivated”.

Zeid called for maximum restraint and for establishing a commission of inquiry. He said, “It is also why I will be urging the UN Human Rights Council to consider establishing a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.”

Even last year, Zeid, in his comments at the 36th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, had criticised India on the issue of deportation of Rohingya as well as on religious intolerance and threat to rights activists.

New Delhi had reacted strongly to the statement saying, it was surprised that individual incidents are being “extrapolated” to suggest a broader societal situation.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also expressed his concern over Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.

He said, “in Myanmar, as the Council is aware, there are clear indications of well-organised, widespread and systematic attacks continuing to target the Rohingyas in Rakhine State as an ethnic group, amounting possibly to acts of genocide if so established by a court of law.

“Although Myanmar has stated that it will investigate allegations and prosecute alleged perpetrators, its actions to date have not met minimal standards of credibility or impartiality. Due to continuing refusals to permit access, OHCHR, the country Special Rapporteur and the Fact-Finding Mission have conducted remote monitoring.”

In the context of the MOU that the Government of Myanmar has established with UNDP and UNHCR for the repatriation of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh, Zeid reiterated that no repatriation should occur in the absence of sustained human rights monitoring on the ground, in the areas concerned.

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