Hussein’s has been not only unnecessarily meddlesome and obnoxious but also hypocritical
India has rightly slammed United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein for his unwarranted, tendentious, and biased remarks regarding the deportation of illegal Rohingya refugees. For Hussein has been not only unnecessarily meddlesome and obnoxious but also, as we shall see, hypocritical.
“I deplore current measures in India to deport Rohingyas at a time of such violence against them in their country,” Hussein said on Tuesday, adding that while 40,000 Rohingyas have settled in India, only 16,000 have been registered as refugees. He also went on to raise the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh.
India’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva Rajeev Chander cogently countered the prejudiced UNHRC chief by saying, “We are perplexed at some of the observations made by the High Commissioner in his oral update. There appears to be an 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 judgments made on the basis of selective and even inaccurate reports do not further the understanding of human rights in any society.”
On Hussein’s comments on the “rise of intolerance” in India, Chander correctly said, “Tendentious judgments made on the basis of selective and even inaccurate reports do not further the understanding of human rights in any society.”
Hussein’s malice is cheekier than his officiousness. He said, “The Minister of State for Home Affairs [Kiren Rijiju] has reportedly said that because India is not a signatory to the Refugee Convention, the country can dispense with international law on the matter, together with basic human compassion.”
To begin with, Hussein distorted Rijiju’s statement; the Minister never said that India “can dispense with international law on the matter”; no government functionary of any civilized country will make such a statement in the first place. As per a PTI report (September 5), among the statements made by Rijiju were: the illegal Rohingyas “stand to be deported”; “we are a nation with great democratic tradition”; “India has absorbed maximum number of refugees in the world, so nobody should give India any lessons on how to deal with refugees”; “we are following the legal path, then why have we been accused of being inhuman.” Nowhere did he say anything about dispensing with or disregarding international law.
Even cheekier is Hussein’s hypocrisy. The guy is a Jordanian prince; he has represented his country as Permanent Representative to the UN and as Ambassador to the US. In other words, he belongs to Jordan’s ruling elite. And how, pray, human rights fare in Jordan? Let’s begin with what Human Rights Watch’s 2017 report says about the Middle Eastern country’s record on refugees and migrants.
“Jordanian law criminalizes speech deemed critical of the king, foreign countries, government officials, and institutions, as well as Islam and speech considered to defame others.”
Between January and June 21, 2016, Jordanian authorities severely restricted the Rukban and Hadalat informal border crossings with Syria in the eastern part of the country, the report said. These restrictions stranded tens of thousands of Syrian asylum seekers. “On June 21, a suicide car bomb attack on a Jordanian military base near Rukban killed seven Jordanian soldiers and security officers, prompting authorities to classify the Jordan-Syria border as a closed military zone and halt humanitarian assistance to nearly 70,000 Syrians… other than water. Authorities allowed the resumption of humanitarian assistance in late November…”
As for migrants, Jordan had around 80,000 domestic workers in 2016, mostly from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, the report said. “NGOs repeatedly referred domestic workers who had suffered multiple cases of abuse to labour ministry investigators. Abuses included non-payment of salaries, unsafe working conditions, long hours, document confiscation, and sometimes physical, verbal and sexual abuse.”
So much for Hussein’s country’s compassion for refugees and migrants.
Other aspects of Jordan also present an unlovely picture. “Jordanian law criminalizes speech deemed critical of the king, foreign countries, government officials, and institutions, as well as Islam and speech considered to defame others,” the HRW report says.
As for gender equality, the country’s record is typically Middle Eastern. “Jordan’s personal status code remains discriminatory, despite a 2010 amendment that included widening women’s access to divorce and child custody. Marriages between Muslim women and non-Muslim men, for instance, are not recognized,” the report says.
Instead of focusing on socio-religious reforms in his country, however, Hussein enjoys castigating democracies and their leaders—especially the ones who are mindful of the threats emerging from radical Islam, the leaders like Donald Trump in the US and Geert Wilders in Europe.
It is astonishing that nobody in India has held a mirror up to Hussein. Well, it would have been improper for the government to flay a UN official for being deceitful, but others could have done that. But, unfortunately, nobody bothered to expose Hussein’s duplicitous, Jekyll-and-Hyde personality.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.