By Rasheed Ahmed,
The EU and India must quickly resume their human rights talks. For too long urgent issues such as freedom of belief and religion have not been discussed. This was noted by participants of the online conference "Situation of Human Rights in India" on Tuesday 2 March, organized by Members of the European Parliament (EP) Bert-Jan Ruissen (NL) and Cristian Terhes (RO), under the umbrella of the Intergroup for Freedom of Religion or Belief and Religious Tolerance.
"Freedom of religion is clearly limited in India, to a worrying level," said Bert-Jan Ruissen. "The EU as a community of values ??and economic superpower is uniquely positioned to stand up for human rights worldwide, of which freedom of belief is one of the most important."He urged the EU to step up its efforts. “Human rights should be mentioned as a top priority in meetings with India, not in any other business. I recommend that the European Parliament adopt a resolution on this matter. ”
Cristian Terhes emphasized the positive consequences for countries that respect fundamental freedoms:
“India is the second largest country in the world in terms of population, with enormous potential. As history has shown, any country that respects human rights and freedom of religion became stronger and more prosperous. By strengthening respect for human rights and freedom of religion within its borders, India could bring greater prosperity to its citizens, make its voice heard and be better heard in the world.
”Four speakers spoke at the online conference: Rahil Patel from Oxford House Research, Anna Hill from the NGO Open Doors International, Alessandro Pecorari on behalf of Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Shabnam Hashmi, social activist and human rights defender from India.
Democratic values Rahil Patel stated: “The issue of India is urgent. Democratic values ??are rapidly declining and the EU can be a great economic partner that can initiate strong talks. But first, before we commit to this and try to change India, we need to understand how India sees the world. The Hindu's worldview through a democratic lens is complex. ”
“An increase in Hindu nationalist ideology has led to hate speech, discrimination and violence against minorities, including Muslims and Christians. The number of reported annual incidents against Christians has increased more than five times between 2014 and 2019, ”said Anna Hill,“ Anti-conversion laws are having a negative effect on minority rights. ”
Freedom of belief “We need to resume the postponed human rights dialogue between the EU and India on 12 January so that both partners can discuss examples of best practice in law enforcement reform,” added Alessandro Pecorari. “The EU should encourage India in every interaction to investigate and address allegations of police complicity in restrictions on religious freedom.
Shabnam Hashmi stated: “There is an unprecedented attack on democracy in India. All dissidents are restrained and human rights activists harassed, lawsuits are brought against them and many are imprisoned. Voices defending minority rights are silenced. The violence, hate speech, attacks on minorities, especially Muslims and Christians, accelerated after the Modi regime came to power. The EU should discuss the status of human rights in India as a top priority in future talks with India. ”