A group of UN human rights experts has expressed concern over continued threats to journalist Rana Ayyub, calling on the Indian government to urgently take steps to protect her and ensure the threats against her are promptly and thoroughly investigated.
“We are highly concerned that the life of Rana Ayyub is at serious risk following these graphic and disturbing threats,” said the UN experts.
UN experts call on the authorities in #India to act urgently to protect journalist @RanaAyyub who has received death threats following an online hate campaign: https://t.co/DlPSLoTF6N pic.twitter.com/dfuqx4uTYG
— UN Human Rights (@UNHumanRights) May 24, 2018
Ayyub is an independent journalist and writer whose work has included investigations into alleged crimes committed by public and government officials.
The UN body said Ayyub faced online backlash after a parody account on Twitter with a handle nearly identical to that of news channel Republic TV published a tweet with a quote falsely attributed to Ayyub on April 22.
“Minor child rapists are also human, do they have no human rights,” the tweet said. “This Hindutva Government is bringing ordinance for death to child rapists just to hang Muslims in larger numbers. Muslims aren’t safe in India anymore.” The tweet was shared widely, forcing Ayyub to issue a clarification.
The last three days there has been a concerted effort in the form of multiple fake tweets, photoshopped tweets, morphed videos on twitter / fb that even the most sensible have fallen for and have gone viral. Those asking me to clarify, please use your own discretion. pic.twitter.com/alf3qkiQSq
— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) April 23, 2018
Following this, Ayyub received several hate messages and calls threatening gangrape and murder. In a column about online harassment that Ayyub wrote in The New York Times, she said another tweet saying “I hate India and Indians” was falsely attributed to her.
“The online mob asked me to pack my bags and leave for Pakistan, some threatened to tear my clothes and drag me out of the country while invoking the genocidal violence between Hindus and Muslims during the partition of India in 1947,” she said in The New York Times article. Ayyub also mentioned that a pornographic video was circulated with her face morphed on to the body of another woman.
— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) May 22, 2018
Although the police have begun an investigation into the threats Ayyub has received, she has reportedly not yet received any police protection, the statement said. “The government [of India] has an obligation to provide effective protection to those who receive death threats and to protect individuals from foreseeable threats to life or bodily integrity,” the statement added.
Rana Ayyub is a journalist and author of Gujarat Files: Anatomy of a Cover Up, a book that investigates the role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The UN experts are Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection the right to freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Ahmed Shaheed and Special Rapporteur on violence against women Dubravka Šimonović.