The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday condemned the “violent threat” of discrimination and racism, and criticized violence against women, LGTBI people and other minorities around the world.
“Discrimination and racism are vicious threats to both human dignity and human relationships,” Volker Turk warned in his first speech at the Human Rights Council since taking office six months ago.
“They arm themselves for contempt. They humiliate, violate human rights, feed blame and despair, and hinder development,” the official added in a vibrant speech, from Afghanistan to Iran, to via Brazil.
On the eve of International Women’s Day, Turk warned of “the extent and scale of discrimination against women and girls” and “one of the worst human rights violations in the world”.
And he blamed the situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban had deprived women of most of their human rights, and Iran, where protesters demanded more rights from women, often endangering their lives.
On progress in this area, Turk cited progress in Sierra Leone and Spain.
Turk added that women and girls are not the only victims of this “hate speech”. He also attacks “people of African descent, Jews, Muslims, LGTBI people, refugees, immigrants and many other minority groups.”
The High Commissioner also highlighted police violence in many countries against people of African descent, “an example of deep-rooted structural damage in racism.”
And he cited recent reports from his service on France, Britain, Ireland and Australia, notably in Brazil, where the number of whites killed by police in 2021 fell by 31%, while in Africa The number of people of descent increased by 6%.
Similarly, officials regretted “deliberate provocations (…) to push the gap between communities”, such as when far-right activists recently desecrated copies of the Koran in Sweden. It’s very dangerous,” he said.