Legitimate exercise of freedom of expression key to countering intolerance: India

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AROUL LOUIS

The United Nations- India said the “legitimate exercise of freedom of opinion and expression” is essential to combat intolerance.

“The legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression within a constitutional framework plays an important and positive role in strengthening democracy, promoting pluralism and combating intolerance,” said Tuesday the Deputy Permanent Representative of India, R. Ravindra, to the Security Council.

He said India has always been committed to a “society based on the principles of democracy and pluralism” and believes it creates an “environment for diverse communities to live together”.

“Terrorism is the antithesis of all religions and cultures and the international community must combat both radicalization and terrorism,” he said.

At the same time, he said, “the United Nations has a responsibility to ensure that the fight against hate speech and discrimination is not limited to a few selected religions and communities, but encompasses all people concerned”.

It was a reiteration of Permanent Representative TS Tirumurti’s more explicit statement to the General Assembly on Monday when he criticized what he called double standards with regard to non-Abrahamic religions.

He criticized what he said was “ignoring the rising hatred and discrimination against non-Abrahamic religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism”.

Tuesday’s session of the Security Council focused on “incitement to violence leading to atrocious crimes” in relation to Ukraine and the meeting became the site of a war of words between supporters of Ukraine and of Russia and its ally China, with India as a spectator.

Ravindra’s statement reflected India’s neutrality in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, not criticizing Moscow, as most Council countries did, nor defending it like China, but speaking in general terms of various forms of incitement to violence and the impact of the conflict there.

He said, “Incitement to violence is the antithesis of peace, tolerance and harmony.

“India remains deeply concerned about the worsening situation in Ukraine and reiterates its call for an immediate cessation of violence and an end to hostilities,” he said.

Ferit Hoxa, Permanent Representative of Albania and President of the Council, said: “What begins with dehumanizing words ends in bloodshed.

As an example, he said that before launching the invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the country an “artificial creation of the Bolsheviks” which should be “denazified”, while the Russian media were spreading false information that Kyiv was committing “genocide”. ”.

Russia’s permanent representative, Vasily Nebenzia, accused Ukraine of fueling “Nazism” and nationalism through its propaganda machine, and repeated that Russian speakers had become “second-class citizens”.

Jayne Toroitich, minister for the United Nations Mission in Kenya, said accusations of human rights abuses and war crimes had been weaponized and said the conflicts in the conflict and their allies should not spread derogatory ideas about Ukrainians or others.

Regarding the global fallout from the Ukrainian conflict, Ravindra said it had “a disproportionate impact, especially on developing countries”.

As India called for lifting its restrictions on commercial wheat export, he said, “Opening up markets must not become an argument to perpetuate inequality and promote discrimination.”

“India is committed to working constructively to mitigate the negative impact of the conflict on food security,” he said, noting that it was supplying foodgrains to neighbors affected by the Ukrainian conflict. (IANS)

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