Dozens of Hindu religious leaders and politicians gathered last month for a meeting in Haridwar, a famous pilgrimage site for Hindus in northern Uttarakhand, with multiple speakers calling on the community to arm themselves. Genocide against Muslim Minorities.
“Even if only 100 of us become soldiers and kill 2 million of them, we will win,” said Sadhvi Annapurna Maa of the far-right Hindu Mahasabha (Congress of Hindus) ) to a cheering crowd at an event.
Video of the meeting went viral on social media, sparking outrage and prompting calls for the arrest of those who publicly called for the killing. In the following month, Two speakers arrested Others are at large as police say they are investigating the matter.
Last August, Stanton, who modeled the 10 stages of the genocide, placed India in stage 8, the persecution of a community. The remaining two stages are elimination and denial.
Juan Mendes was the first UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide (2004-2007), appointed by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He has also served as President and Commissioner of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. Currently, he is a professor of human rights law at the American University in Washington, DC.
Mendes called the situation in India, home to 200 million Muslims, “dangerous” and “deeply disturbing.”Al Jazeera told him explicit call for genocide Against minorities, and what the international community, including the United Nations, can do to prevent this from happening.
Al Jazeera: What do you think of the call for violence by Hindu extremist leaders at Haridwar?
John E. Mendes: I am very concerned about them, especially with decades of hostility towards minority communities. Calls for active violence are far more dangerous and part of the equation, especially in this case, and it can lead some people to take those calls seriously, take action, and anger others.
In this case, I’d look for the worse case where the speech was made by non-state actors, i.e. people who claim to represent their ethnic group, acting like protected speech and free speech , like if it’s just an opinion.
After all, calling for the killing of millions in any legal context is a crime, or at least a threat of crime. So if governments don’t respond appropriately to this, then I think the international community needs to take action to limit the impact that such rhetoric can have.
Al Jazeera: The US-based Genocide Watch and its founder, Gregory Stanton, have issued a genocide alert for India. Is India entering a zone where the term “imminent genocide” can be used?
Mendes: I think Genocide Watch is a very reputable organization and its opinion should be carefully considered. Stanton’s 10 Stages of Genocide is a well-regarded method for predicting and preventing genocide. The usefulness of this model is that it needs to focus not only on the populations at risk – in this case the Muslim minority in India – but also on the actions that need to be taken to mitigate this.
The organization works by applying models rather than pointlessly analyzing facts on the ground. But let me say, as a former advisor on the prevention of genocide, I agree that this kind of genocide calls and expressions are of international concern.
Al Jazeera: India ratified the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1959, criminalizing genocide and enforcing its prohibition. With many Hindu extremists calling for genocide violence still at large and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s apparent silence, has India violated its obligations to the Genocide Convention?
Mendes: The 1948 Genocide Convention is about the prevention of genocide, which obliges all states and peoples to take all necessary measures to prevent genocide from happening. The convention does not all spell out specific preventive actions to be taken, but it is understandable that governments are on the front line in preventing genocide, especially those countries that have ratified the convention.
So, in fact, the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India has a responsibility to monitor the situation and respond appropriately to calls for violence against any minority groups, especially those at risk, and to deploy various forms of protection for them. Among them One is apparently to investigate, persecute and punish those who commit crimes under Indian law. Failure to do so constitutes a violation of the Genocide Convention.
Al Jazeera: Article 3 of the Genocide Convention stipulates that direct and public incitement to genocide is punishable. It includes rulers, public officials or private individuals who are accountable to the constitution. Does the Permanent International Criminal Court (ICC) have any jurisdiction over India in persecuting those who call for anti-Muslim genocide?
Mendes: No, unfortunately it is not because India has not signed and ratified Rome StatuteTherefore, what happens in India and crimes committed by Indians abroad can only be committed in countries with jurisdiction of the ICC or if the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) decides to refer the case to the ICC. Take Sudan and Libya for example.
Al Jazeera: Do you think the world, especially the US, UK and European countries, is paying less attention to the threat of Indian nationalism to Indian minorities?
Mendes: Whatever they (Hindu nationalists) have done so far should not make anyone complacent because in fact, I do think the situation is dangerous. In addition, some of the Modi government’s public policies are discriminatory against minorities. These violations range between discrimination, hate speech, violence and ultimately genocide.
The international community has a moral responsibility to protect people from such harm. That’s why the UN General Assembly adopted it in 2005 as a convention to protect people. It is not binding on anyone, but it does demonstrate the responsibility of the international community and each member of the international community to take some action to protect populations at risk.
Al Jazeera: Don’t you think the UN needs to push for stricter international norms, laws and active intervention after its repeated failures in preventing genocide?
Mendes: Yes, I think the United Nations should have done more since 2004 when the Office for the Prevention of Genocide was established. So I see it as self-criticism as well as criticism of the institution. The United Nations as an institution can only do what its members, especially more powerful ones, allow it to do. Obviously, within this very strong limit, I think we should take the positive steps the UN has already taken and criticize their limitations and then build on them. I hope it will start, but I have to say I am a little skeptical or more pessimistic because the power relations in the international community today are less compassionate than the genocide prevention in 2004 under Kofi Annan.
Al Jazeera: Do you think the UN should consider legislation to regulate social media companies, which are reportedly being used to prepare for the genocide we’ve seen in Myanmar and Ethiopia, and the trends we’re seeing in India?
Mendes: I believe that social media companies should have the same freedom of expression rights as international human rights law, but also the obligation to act responsibly to prevent violence. Whether the UN is now the best place to start regulating social media companies, I think it (the UN) should at least take a leadership role. In fact, any required legislation must become a treaty, which the United States must then ratify. It is important to create power words for such treaties to protect freedom of expression in all its forms, but also to limit freedom of speech when it comes to incitement. The Genocide Convention obliges States to criminalize and prosecute incitement to genocide. So, we have some international elements of the legal framework, but we probably need more than that.
Al Jazeera: What do you think is the responsibility of the entire international community, especially the United Nations, to avoid another genocide?
Mendes: I do think that the international community must play its role as soon as possible. The facts on the ground are so serious that international forums such as the UN General Assembly, UN Security Council (UNSC) and UN Human Rights Council have expressed concern. That should happen soon. If the Modi government’s response is inappropriate, then the UN Security Council should step in to protect the Indian minority, and a resolution under Chapter 7 is the way to go. It is binding and can include different elements, one of which is referral of the case to the International Criminal Court. I do think it’s important for UN Security Council members to start thinking about whether action should be recommended to protect at-risk minorities in India.