Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Follow up on visit of UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders


"We are what we think. With our thoughts we make our world." - Buddha




Dear Friends                                                                                                                                                          18.01.2011


Today was the day for reality check.  


For the last two days many organizations and individuals who have been supportive of our position have come out with their suggestions in response to both emails I had circulated protesting the discrimination of the office of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights Defenders towards Uttar Pradesh. Respecting majority of those suggestions, I participated in the meeting after being invited by respected Sri Miloon Kothari, former UN Special Rapporteur on Housing.


Friends, I am glad to inform you all that three other organizations from UP were already present in the meeting venue to speak on the situation of human rights defenders. During the discussion Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya, UN Special Rapporteur expressed her disappointment with my letters. She felt the letters were direct attack on her and on her office. She advised me to discuss my grievances with representatives of her office and the members of the working group (WG), responsible for the entire mission and sort out the problems.


The meeting took place at 5.00pm. Representatives from the office of the Special Rapporteur and a representative of the working group were present at the meeting. I came across ample proof of non involvement of the office of Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya. All the omissions and commissions were done by the WG in Delhi. In fact the Special Rapporteur was entirely dependent on the advice of the WG. I believe, her office remained under the impression that the group is doing justice to the people of India and shall be responsible for upholding the credibility and impartiality of the UN system. However, the truth is that the Working Group in their collective wisdom did not consider people like Mr. K.K.Roy or Mr Chittaranjan Singh or Mr Ramkumar or Ms Arundhati Dhruv experience enough to represent the issues of Human Right Defenders in UP.


As the truth is out in open, I offer my unconditional apology to Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya and to her office. However, I continue to think that UN being a public body must come under serious public scrutiny. In the meeting I also drew everybody's attention to a strange coincidence, i.e.,  I was working under the  representative of the working group present in the meeting when I received threat on my life from the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. He did not come to support me then nor does he speak for me today, even though I and my family continue to remain under threats.  But he is a very important person in planning the programmes for the mission. Sitting on the dais with Mrs. Sekaggya, he talks on building solidarity and networking among Human Rights Defenders across the country.  Mrs. Sekaggya, this is also a trend in India affecting the Human Rights Defenders and must be noted by your office.


 During the meeting I came to know that the Government of India (GoI) put several restrictions on the movements of the Mrs. Sekaggya. I strongly condemn this decision of the GoI. I along with other civil society groups will try to access all the communications between the office of the Special Rapporteur and the GoI under Right to Information Act and initiate necessary campaign to make the Government more cooperative to the UN System in future.


I promise the UN Special Rapporteur that the civil society groups from UP will do its best to impress the national government for consideration and implementation of her report. We also expect the WG to be more democratic and representative. PVCHR acknowledges the important role the WG and expresses its desire to be its part to provide necessary input in future. I shall wait to hear from the group members.


Thanking you for your support.


Dr Lenin Raghuvanshi

Executive Director, PVCHR

Gwanju Human Right Awardee, 2007

Recipient of Weimer City Council Award on Human Rights, 2010



Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.

--The Buddha


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