The UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Fernand de Varennes, on Monday, slammed India for deciding to hold the G20 session on tourism in troubled Kashmir. The session is to be held from May 22 to 24.

He said in a statement that human rights violations had risen dramatically in the region since 2019 when the government of India revoked the ‘special status’ by abrogating Articles 370 and 35 A.

“By holding a G20 meeting of the working group on tourism on 22-24 May,” Fernand de Varennes said: “The Government of India is seeking to normalise what some have described as a military occupation by instrumentalizing a G20 meeting and portray an international ‘seal of approval.”

“This is despite what Volker Türk, the UN high commissioner for human rights, told the UN Human Rights Council a few weeks ago was a worrying human rights situation in the Kashmir region.”

Fernand de Varennes asserted that G20 is “unwittingly” providing a veneer of support to a facade of normalcy at a time when massive human rights violations, illegal and arbitrary arrests, political persecutions, restrictions and even suppression of free media and human rights defenders continue to escalate.

“International human rights obligations and the UN Declaration of Human Rights should still be upheld by organizations such as the G20,” he said.

“The situation in Jammu and Kashmir should be decried and condemned, not pushed under the rug and ignored with the holding of this meeting,” the statement said.

India, however, slammed the expert’s statement terming them as “baseless” and “unwarranted” in its response shared by India’s mission at the UN on Twitter.

“We @IndiaUNGeneva strongly reject the statement issued by SR on minority issues @fernanddev & the baseless & unwarranted allegations in it. As G20 President, it’s India’s prerogative to host its meetings in any part of the country,” the government said.

“We are aghast that @fernanddev has acted irresponsibly to politicize this issue, misused his position as SR to publicize on social media his presumptive and prejudiced conclusions in a gross violation of the Code of Conduct for Srs,” it added.


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