human rights experts group
the United Nations
has called on the government of India to “immediately release human rights defenders arrested for protesting against changes to the nation’s citizenship laws,” referring to the anti-CAA protests.
The high-powered group includes the special rapporteur on human rights and several experts on arbitrary detention, rights to peaceful assembly, minority issues, protection of freedom of expression, among others.
The statement of June 26 raised concerns that despite the Supreme Court’s order to decongest jails amid spread of the virus, “the protest leaders continue to be detained” and that authorities were “invoking counter-terrorism or national security legislation, and using… police powers to deny bail to protesters and issue charges carrying heavy sentences.”
Their statement said they are in contact with government of India on the matter.
Referring to the detention of 11 individual cases of Meeran Haider, Safoora Zargar, Gulfisha Fatima,
Asif Iqbal Tanha
, Devangana Kalita, Natasha Narwal,
Shifa Ur Rehman
, Sharjeel Imam and Akhil Gogoi, the statement said, “These defenders, many of them students, appear to have been arrested simply because they exercised their right to denounce and protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and their arrest seems clearly designed to send a chilling message to India’s vibrant civil society that criticism of government policies will not be tolerated.”
The UN experts also said that state response to the protests seemed “discriminatory” and that “allegations of incitement to hatred and violence made by CAA supporters” had not been “similarly investigated”.