Fraught with hypocrisy, OIC should introspect upon human rights records of member States before lecturing India on minority rights

It is difficult to take the OIC seriously since its past record of hypocrisy inspires no confidence.

Sreemoy Talukdar December 24, 2019 11:50:16 IST
Fraught with hypocrisy, OIC should introspect upon human rights records of member States before lecturing India on minority rights
  • It is difficult to take the OIC seriously since its past record of hypocrisy inspires no confidence.

  • It will be better for the OIC to apply the standards to its own members that it seeks from non-member states instead of reeling off hypocritical statements.

  • Many OIC members are guilty of the worst violations of human rights and ill-treatment of their minority population.

We live in interesting times. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a group of 57 Muslim-majority and Islamic nations including Pakistan, has announced that it is “closely” monitoring the situation in India “affecting” Muslims. The OIC’s reference is to the developments over the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the Supreme Court verdict in the Ayodhya case.

In a brief statement, the OIC, which fashions itself as the voice of Islamic Ummah, or the brotherhood of Muslims worldwide, has said that it is closely following recent developments affecting Muslim minority in India” and has expressed its “concern over the recent developments pertaining to both the issue of citizenship rights and the Babri Masjid case”.

Fraught with hypocrisy OIC should introspect upon human rights records of member States before lecturing India on minority rights

OIC expresses concern over conditions of Muslims living in India. Twitter/OIC

It is difficult to take the OIC seriously since its past record of hypocrisy inspires no confidence. In this case, especially, the organisation should refrain from airing its ill-informed and sanctimonious nonsense. The statement is also ironic since the OIC has repeatedly failed on both counts — both as a collective voice of Muslims around the world and in its treatment of minorities within own soil. Many of OIC’s member nations are guilty of grievous human rights abuses. With Pakistan being one of its prominent members, the OIC has also failed to take a firm stand against terrorism — the worst form of human rights violation.

This isn’t surprising because the moral interventions of OIC — the second-largest international body after the United Nations — are acutely political. Due to Pakistan’s prominence and influence within the group and the proximity of Kashmir to the Islamic cause, developments in Jammu and Kashmir have always received disproportionate attention from OIC that has frequently toed Islamabad’s narrative against India.

However, when it comes to China’s repressive policies against Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang autonomous region, the Islamic ummah has not only been eerily quiet, but has even backed Beijing in its strategy of “eradicate from the mind thoughts about religious extremism and violent terrorism, and to cure ideological diseases” of its Turkic Muslim population, a vast number of whom are held without charge in extralegal “political reeducation camps”.

On September 2018, UN Human Rights Watch came out with a report on China’s Campaign of Repression Against Xinjiang’s Muslims. The report, based on interviews with 58 former residents of Xinjiang including five former detainees and their relatives, gave a bird’s eye view of mass-scale “arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment” of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, rampant abuses that “violate fundamental rights to freedom of expression, religion, and privacy, and protections from torture and unfair trials” based on Beijing’s ‘Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism’ launched in 2014.

The aim of the Chinese government is to essentially ban the practice of Islam among the Muslim population and “reeducate” them with party propaganda. Yet while adopting a resolution on “safeguarding the rights of Muslim communities and minorities in non-OIC member states”, as OIC members met in Abu Dhabi on 1 and 2 March this year, the organisation gave a clean chit to China, even going to the extent of commending the efforts of China in “providing care to its Muslim citizens”.

The World Uighur Congress was obviously not impressed.

The OIC similarly remained quiet when a report in the New York Times based on leaked documents gave the world a ringside look at the crackdown on ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region. The OIC also didn’t raise even an eyebrow when Associated Press got access to a list compiled by Pakistani probe agencies documenting 629 girls and women from across Pakistan were sold as “brides” to Chinese men and taken to China. Not only did the OIC remain silent, Pakistan too abruptly halted the investigation ostensibly not to harm bilateral ties with its ‘iron brother’.

This report came on the back of another investigative report by the same news agency documenting Pakistan Christian girls were being trafficked to China as “brides”. This obviously didn’t ring the conscience of OIC. China’s economic, geopolitical and financial muscle ostensibly proved too tough for OIC member states to uphold their charter that seeks to “safeguard the rights, dignity and religious and cultural identity of Muslim communities and minorities in non-Member States”. After all, diplomatic and trade relationship with the world’s next superpower is more important than moral posturing.

This position is perfectly understandable in the amoral world of realpolitik. All the more reason why India should ignore the latest joke to emanate from the OIC stable. This isn’t all. The ‘star members’ of OIC are guilty of the worst violations of human rights and ill-treatment of their minority population.

According to the 2018 Saudi Arabia Human Rights report prepared by the US state department, the kingdom is guilty of “Human rights issues” including “unlawful killings; executions for nonviolent offences; forced renditions; forced disappearances; and torture of prisoners and detainees by government agents. There were also reports of arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners… severe restrictions of religious freedom… violence and official discrimination against women, although new women’s rights initiatives were implemented; criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual activity; and prohibition of trade unions”. The report also accuses the US ally of hushing up the result of probe into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Indonesia, another prominent member of OIC, has also drawn attention for mainstreaming Islamisation. The ruling against Jakarta’s Christian governor Ahok in 2017 showed how radical Islamists are altering the nation’s pluralist ethos.

To top it all, just a day before OIC came out with its brief statement against India, a Pakistan court sentenced to death a scholar and academic for “blasphemy” on social media. According to reports, professor Junaid Hafeez taught English literature at the government-run Bahauddin Zakariya University in Multan after returning from the US where he studied as a Fulbright scholar at Jackson State University in Mississippi. Hafeez had specialized in American literature, photography and theatre.

In 2013, he was arrested on charges of posting derogatory comments about the Prophet Muhammad on social media, a charge that he denies, and since then he has been languishing in jail without a fair trial and had even been put in solitary confinement after being attacked by fellow inmates. His first lawyer was shot dead for taking up the case (no one was charged for the crime), the second withdrew and the third has received repeated threats. According to a report in BBC, prosecution lawyers distributed sweets to their colleagues, who chanted “Allahu akbar” and “death to blasphemers.”

Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws have been used primarily to target its minority population (refer to the much-discussed Asia Bibi case), and according to the Centre for Social Justice, at least 1,549 people have faced blasphemy charges in Pakistan since 1987 and 75 of them were murdered.

It will be better for the OIC to apply the standards to its own members that it seeks from non-member states instead of reeling off hypocritical statements.

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