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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Fact-finding report on Leicester violence released in UK Parliament

On 23 March, the Centre for Democracy, Pluralism and Human Rights (CDPHR) released a fact-finding report on the Leicester violence in the British Parliament’s House of Commons, chaired by MP Bob Blackman. The report, titled “Fact-finding report on Leicester Violence 2022 – The rise of territorial majoritarianism and Hinduphobia,” sheds light on the events that took place in Leicester, UK in August & September last year and their implications for democratic values and human rights of micro-minority communities.

The report finds that the violence in Leicester was a direct assault on democratic institutions and the rule of law. The attackers attempted to undermine the fundamental principles of democracy and pluralism, including freedom of expression by spreading misinformation. The attack also targeted individuals based on their religious beliefs and affiliations, particularly the practitioners of Hindu Dharma, which is a clear violation of human rights.

The report provides a detailed analysis of the events that led up to the attack, including the social and political context that contributed to the violence. It also highlights the phenomenon of transnational political externalities, spill-over effect and the creation of ethnic enclaves within migrant communities whose origins can be traced to the East. There is a translation of the sense of territorial majoritarianism from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Kashmir and attempts at ethnic cleansing as seen in the temporary displacement of Hindu families from their homes as a result of the violence. It also highlights the misuse of law enforcement agencies by nefarious elements and the need for better coordination and communication to prevent future incidents.

CDPHR has urged all stakeholders, including the government, law enforcement agencies, civil society, and the media, to take immediate action to address the underlying issues that led to the Leicester violence. This includes addressing the rise of extremism and hate speech, protecting the rights of all individuals to live in their area of choosing sans the fear of territorial majoritarianism, tackling biased media reporting and ensuring that law enforcement agencies have the resources and training they need to prevent and respond to such incidents.

Report being released in British Parliament (Source: CDPHR)

Executive Summary and Report Highlights

The months of August and September witnessed unrest and violence in Leicester, United Kingdom with cascading effects in other regions. The Centre for Democracy Pluralism and Human Rights (CDPHR) sent a fact-finding team to ground-zero and beyond to collect facts and ascertain the key circumstances and reasons behind the unrest.

Some of the key highlights of the findings were as follows:

  • Hindu community in the United Kingdom is one of the most law-abiding, peace loving, co-existing and contributing communities with the lowest prison population (0%), highest educational attainment rates, second highest median earnings and employment rates.
  • East Leicester was ground zero of unrest, violence and tensions throughout August and September 2022.
  • Due to translational political externalities and a spillover effect from South Asia, there has been a development of ethnic enclaves (organised by religion) among the migrant population in Leicester.
  • East Leicester is the ethnic enclave of the muslim community residing in Leicester and has a minority presence of Hindu community.
  • The presence of these ethnic enclaves gave rise to territorial tensions and localised majoritarianism, which were witnessed both before and during the unrest in East Leicester.
  • Symptoms of territorial ethnic cleansing were found through the analysis of the different slogans and speeches made by the majority community of East Leicester and the temporary displacement of Hindu community as a result of the unrest.
  • There was an attempt to defame and vilify the Hindu community as Hindutva nationalist and extremists with malicious propaganda of false kidnapping of a minor muslim girl, false stabbing of muslim traffic warden, false account of a mosque attack and false accusation of desecration of the Quran.
  • There was an increased misuse of law enforcement and security measures and appropriation of public good by false reporting to the police and local media bodies regarding the actions of the Hindu community.
  • There was an attempt to target and vilify the larger Hindu population of the United Kingdom. There were failed attempts at nation-wide mobilisation against Hindu community using extrapolated versions of the misinformation about the Hindu community in Leicester. The attempt was only successful in Birmingham and failed to catch on.
  • Institutional Hinduphobia and bias was deduced through the analysis of the reporting of the Leicester unrest by the media houses BBC and the Guardian when compared to the verified police reports, witness accounts and corroborating reports from think tanks.

Recommendations

The fact-finding team has come up with the following recommendations for lawmakers, law-enforcement and community leaders to avoid such unrest in the future and to remedy the long-term effects of the disorder that came to pass in Leicester in Aug-Sep 2022.

1. To tackle the spread of misinformation on social media platforms :

  • Promoting media literacy: People should be educated on how to differentiate between reliable and unreliable sources of information. They should also be taught how to fact-check information before sharing it on social media.
  • Corroborative approach: Social media platforms, governments, and civil society organisations can collaborate to develop and implement measures to tackle the spread of misinformation on social media. This can include joint awareness-raising campaigns and initiatives to improve media literacy.

2. To tackle biased media reporting:

  • Hold media outlets accountable: Establish mechanisms for holding media outlets accountable for biased reporting, such as public complaints systems or independent ombudsman.
  • Foster independent media: Support independent media outlets that prioritise factual and unbiased reporting, and provide resources to help them grow and reach a wider audience.
  • Implement regulations: Develop and enforce regulations that promote fair and impartial reporting, including guidelines for reporting on sensitive topics.
  • Promote transparency: Encourage media outlets to disclose their ownership, funding sources, and any conflicts of interest that may influence their reporting.

3. To curtail sentiments of majoritarianism and transnational political externalities

  • Encourage civil society engagement: Promote the involvement of civil society organisations in promoting pluralism and tolerance, and provide them with the resources they need to be effective.
  • Educate the public: Educate the public on the dangers of majoritarianism, and promote democratic values such as tolerance, respect, and dialogue.

4. To curtail growing Hinduphobia and secure the vulnerable micro-minorities

  • Combat hate speech and discrimination: Develop and enforce laws that prohibit hate speech and discrimination against Hindus, and provide legal recourse for victims.
  • Adoption of definition of Hinduphobia: Government agencies and law-enforcement additionally need to adopt definitions of Hinduphobia to readily understand and  support the community in fighting tensions as a result of the same.

To read the full report, click here

About the Report Authors

Rashmi Samant

Rashmi Samant is a recent Oxford graduate where she was elected its first Indian-Female President of the Student Union. She has been very active in the space of human rights of persecuted Hindus through her work with media organisations, think tanks, governments and her non-profit foundation ATMAH which works to promote the rights of persecuted Hindus and other indigenous people across the world. She largely derives her inspiration from the personal struggles she faced as a result of Hinduphobic discrimination on campus where she was elected to the office of the SU President. Professionally she serves as the Executive Director of the Punarnava group in Bharat.

Chris Blackburn

Chris Blackburn is a British political analyst. He provides advice to NGOs, law firms, political campaigns, think tanks, and private organisations. Early in his career, he worked with the 9/11 Families United to Bankrupt Terrorism  lawsuit. Chris organised Intelcon and the Intelligence Summit(s). Intelcon was the outreach program for The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission). Chris has been a leading campaigner for the trials of war criminals associated with Bangladesh’s War of Liberation in 1971. In 2010, Chris was given an honorary ‘Friend of Bangladesh’ award by the Bangladeshi government. In 2022, Chris was given a letter to acknowledge his work on security and international relations by Bharat’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

About CDPHR

The Centre for Democracy, Pluralism and Human Rights (www.cdphr.org) is committed to promoting and protecting democratic values and human rights in the UK and around the world. We believe that the findings of this report are critical to addressing the challenges facing our society and building a more just and equitable future. For media inquiries or to request a copy of the report, please contact the Centre for Democracy, Pluralism and Human Rights at [email protected]

(Based on onputs from press release provided by CDPHR)

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