International Policy Digest

Mark Garten
World News /21 Jan 2020

India has the Responsibility to Protect its Population

Action and words are two separate things, right? But not if you’re a government official. Rhetoric often reflects policy— which translates into action.

General Bipin Rawat, India’s Chief of Defense Staff, stated at this year’s Raisina Dialogue that, “Radicalization can be countered. We saw it happening in Kashmir…Today, we see that young children are also being radicalized. They need to be identified and then we need to put them in de-radicalization camps.”

Mr. Rawat’s statement comes at a time when attacks on human rights have increased worldwide.

His comments could be a presage of another humanitarian crisis.

Categorizing people and putting them in mass detention camps denies them of their individuality, thereby increasing the likelihood of mass atrocities to occur.

According to the New York Times, many analysts and rights activists fear that de-radicalization camps in Kashmir would mean Xinjiang 2.0.

In China’s Xinjiang region, grave human rights abuses are being carried out by the Chinese government under the pretext of counterterrorism. Approximately one million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities are arbitrarily detained without due process and subjected to forced indoctrination in re-education camps. Leaked documents from the Chinese government show that detainees have endured prison-like conditions.

In 2005, at the UN World Summit, UN member states unanimously adopted the “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” principle. This means that governments have the responsibility to protect their populations from ethnic cleansing, genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

The UN resolution adopted at the end of the summit noted that “This responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement, through appropriate and necessary means. We [member states] accept that responsibility and will act in accordance with it. The international community should, as appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.”

That being so, the Indian government should uphold its responsibility to protect its population, including the people of Indian-administered Kashmir. Further, India should assure the international community of its readiness to stand by the commitments it made in 2005 at the UN World Summit alongside other member states.

Being the world’s largest democracy and a member of the Human Rights Council, the Indian government should pursue a human rights-based policy and clarify Mr. Rawat’s comments to elucidate its policy on Kashmir.

A government official’s rhetoric is the window to its government’s policies. That’s why the Indian government must condemn the idea of placing Kashmiri children in de-radicalization camps and affirm its commitment to protecting its population.