“Virtue is more to be feared than vice, because its excesses are not subject to the regulation of conscience”. – Adam Smith
What has begun in the name of beholding virtues of Human Rights protection is now begging for refuge from its own torchbearers. And to no surprise Amnesty International is eager enough to stand first in queue among those torchbearers by promoting institutionalised bias and flawed narratives against India in the garb of Human Rights call. Amnesty International is one of the most influential international non-governmental organizations (NGO). It’s campaigns and publications are frequently quoted worldwide by political leaders, journalists, diplomats, and academics. Cases of Human Rights violation covered by Amnesty used to set agendas and influences government policies, as well as other international bodies such as the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). However, the dramatic rise of Amnesty from a small volunteer initiative in 1961 to world’s most influential NGO itself raises several questions on the independence and impartiality of this organization and also suggests a pressing need to have a system of accountability against such organizations.
Although Amnesty International has a history of ideological and political biases across the globe on several issues1 but India centric issues has always remained a favorite punching bag for Amnesty to promote flawed narratives and propaganda campaigns. And the factors that are primarily responsible to offer such leverage to organizations like Amnesty are as follows:
- Blind acceptability of foreign based research and analysis among majority Indians.
- Lack of accountability from Indian side on such Human Rights organizations.
- Support of Lobbies and political parties to such organizations for their own benefits.
- Due to vast population diversity it is far more easier to exaggerate and exploit fault lines in the society.
Culmination of all these factors helped organizations like Amnesty to prosper and freely propagate their vicious campaigns against India in the name of Human Rights violations. Recently Amnesty International came into limelight for its interactive website ‘Halt the Hate’ initiative, when an NGO named Srijan Foundation has questioned the data collection methodology and reporting mechanism of this website on hate crimes in India by sending an open petition of appeal to its high officials2.
What is ‘Halt the Hate’ website initiative of Amnesty International ?
The information available on the official website of Amnesty International regarding, ‘Halt the Hate’ initiative, claims that due to the absence of any publicly available disaggregated data on hate crimes, Amnesty International India launched its website ‘Halt the Hate’ in September 2015, with the aim of documenting incidents of alleged hate crimes in India after Mohammad Akhlaq, a 52 year old Muslim resident of Dadri, Uttar Pradesh was murdered on the suspicion of eating beef. It scours the English and Hindi media for reports of hate crimes, collates them on its Halt the Hate website and classifies them on the basis of how violent were they, who were they directed at and what was the alleged motive behind the commission of such a crime3.
What is the issue with ‘Halt the Hate’, website ?
On the face of it, the available information about Amnesty’s ‘Halt the Hate’ initiative sounds very convincing but when we dive into the details of the cases reported on this website and the methodology involved in collecting those cases, the said initiative falls short to even qualify the definition of a “Fact”. The manner in which ‘Halt the Hate’ initiative offers to provide information on hate crimes in India is absolutely shocking. To be precise on this the homepage of the website omits to even acknowledge Hindus, Buddhist, Jains, Sikhs as a category under the victims of hate crimes4. Moreover, the methodology involved in collecting and reporting the case of hate crimes is also questionable because as per the information available on the website, the cases gathered on hate crimes in India is based on reports published in English and Hindi newspapers through keyword searches5 but strangely enough it is found to be selectively ignorant about the media reports which cover cases of hate crimes committed against Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs in India (notable mentions among them are reports of Swarajyamag, Opindia etc). Another noteworthy omission on the website is that on the web page section titled “Interactive map6”, a filter tab is attached which shows several categories through which we can search for cases of hate crimes in India. In that filter tab there is a category named “Alleged motive” which mentions several categories of motives of hate crimes like cow related, caste, religion etc but surprisingly it omits to mention categories like forced conversion, cow smuggling, targeted attacks on Hindu Temples, Attacks on Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs etc, which are also important reasons behind fueling conflicts in the society in India.
So in a nutshell, Amnesty International India’s interactive website, ‘Halt the Hate’ carries following significant omissions in reporting cases of hate crimes in India:
- Hate crimes committed against Hindus (including dalits) by Muslims.
- Hate crimes committed by cow smugglers against Hindus and Law enforcement agency.
- Targeted attacks on Temples of Hindus, Jains by muslims.
- Forced conversions of Hindus (including dalits) by muslims and hate crimes committed in pursuance to that.
- Deceitful conversion of Hindus by Christian missionaries through money and undue influence.
- Forced conversion of Adivasis by Christian missionaries and Islamists.
- Rampant jihadist radicalization of muslims in Kerala, Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam, Western Uttar Pradesh.
- Targeted rapes of Hindus (including dalits) by muslims.
- Targeted attacks on Buddhists of ladakh, Jains and Sikhs of North Indian States by muslims.
- Institutionalised dscrimination against Hindu minorities (Kashmiri pandits and dalits) in Jammu & Kashmir.
Logical fallacy in the excuses of Amnesty to dodge accountability for it’s ‘Halt the Hate’ initiative.
‘Halt the Hate’ website initiative of Amnesty International is not only worthy of condemnation for its selective reporting on cases of hate crimes in India but also deserves an argumentative slap for the excuses which it put forth to buy acceptability for it’s data collection methodology and reporting of cases on this subject. Those excuses are basically two folds: First, lack of availability of disaggregated data on hate crime in India; Second, reporting methodology is based on news media reports through keyword searches. Now on the face of it these excuses sounds very innocent but when we dig deeper into it, the most fundamental question that demands an answer is that if Amnesty is sincerely honest in its attempt to report cases of hate crimes in India and it lacks data on the subject, then why it doesn’t even bother to mention Hindus, Jains, Budhhist, Sikhs under the category of identity of victims on their website, after all that would help Amnesty to gather more comprehensive data on this issue. Moreover, why is that the news reports which Amnesty has covered on its website, ‘Halt the Hate’ altogether ignores news reports that cover hate crimes against Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs. At present enough data and news reports are available in the public domain to establish a case on hate crimes committed against Hindus in India, especially on the basis of news reports published in Swarajyamag, Opindia, IndiaFacts regarding hate crimes committed against Hindus (including dalits) in India. Infact for the last two years news media portal, IndiaFacts is publishing “Hindu Human Rights Report” -(https://indiafacts.org/hhrr2019/)- covering yearly data on hate crimes committed against Hindus including institutionalised discrimination which Hindus are facing for the last 70 years. But it looks like Amnesty wants to remain blindfolded about those publically available data and news reports on this subject. And therefore it would not be an exaggeration to say that if Amnesty is allowed to freely peddle selective data on hate crimes in India then 5-6 years down the line the damage it will cause to the reputation of India on global platforms would certainly become irreparable.
Featured Image: Amnesty International
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. IndiaFacts does not assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in this article.
Legal Associate at Srijan Foundation