Human Rights and Reports
September 12, 2018
Newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, in her first address to the UN Human Rights Council, on Monday, said: “The people of Kashmir have exactly the same rights to justice and dignity as people all over the world and we urge authorities to respect them.” The former Chilean president also reiterated the UNHRC’s request for unconditional access to Kashmir on either side of the Line of Control.
“The Office of the HRC continues to request permission to visit both sides of the LoC, and in the meantime, will continue its monitoring and reporting,” she said. Bachelet’s predecessor Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein released UN’s first report on human rights violations in Kashmir on June 14, which the government (GoI) said was “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”.
The former High Commissioner was reported as having rebuffed the government’s response maintaining that the UN report was also based on government’s official figures. What is more shameful though is how the recent address of the UN High Commissioner and rights violations in Kashmir was reported in media.
While the local newspapers including Rising Kashmir carried the news prominently, it unfortunately didn’t receive the same treatment in national dailies and electronic media. The Indian Express reported it under the headline “New UN rights chief urges India, Pak to take meaningful action on Kashmir issue” while as The Wire carried the news with the headline “New UN Human Rights Chief Backs Predecessor’s Kashmir Report.” Many popular dailies either didn’t report it or tried to downplay it. Business Standard carried the 650-word AFP report under headline “New UN rights chief decries abuses of minorities, migrants” in which Rohingyas, Uighurs, Myanmar, China and Hungary found a mention but not Kashmir.
However, the news portal Scroll.in and lesser known The Live Mirror reported it as “New UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet criticises India for not heeding its report on Kashmir” and “UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet slams India for inaction on rights violations report in Kashmir.” On an important issue like human rights violations, national media are not only mincing words but have also shied away from the task of responsible journalism. It reeks of inherent bias than the customary excuse of dwindling freedom that national media often tries to project. It is not a question of what national dailies and media consider news worthy – trivial issues have been reported in the media for which they have been mocked – but an informed choice of shunning an important concern that affects millions of people.
Perhaps Bachelet’s statement should be put as a question to those in charge of the national media – do they believe that people of Kashmir have exactly the same rights to justice and dignity as people all over the world.