The latest Amnesty International report entitled ‘The State of the World’s Human Rights’ has sounded the warning that it is from democracy that megalomaniac dictators emerge. Based on a close scrutiny of the rights situation in 149 countries, the report depicts a depressing picture of human rights in around half of these states, as most of these countries used the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to curtail fundamental rights of their peoples with the aim of making their grip on power unassailable. Such states have overtly flouted the boundaries marked under the doctrine of separation of powers.
These observations are corroborated by court judgments, reports of civil liberties organisations and investigative media stories of these countries. The US and India have come under scathing criticism from Amnesty. The US witnessed serious rights violations during the rule of president Trump. During this period, the police killed more than 1,000 persons, most from the disadvantaged African-American community. The report has roundly criticised the Modi-led government in India for its suppression of human rights and the continued clampdown on information in Occupied Kashmir after New Delhi ended the special status of the state.
It was established beyond doubt that both Modi and Trump possess a strong streak of authoritarianism when during his visit to India in February 2020 President Trump conferred on Modi the title of ‘Father of the Nation’ in Delhi at a time when an anti-Muslim pogrom was underway there. Modi’s India has become a hell for minorities and libertarians. Many Muslims have been arrested under the National Security Act for cow slaughter. Courts have released a majority of the accused. As many as 16 judges of the Allahabad High Court ruled the detentions unlawful and said the NSA was used without application of mind. The language used in most of the FIRs was found identical. Sedition laws are being used so indiscriminately to silence the regime’s critics that it is being said that now anti-state people far outnumber patriots.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2021.