New Delhi: The UN human rights organisation has urged Indian authorities to act urgently to protect journalist Rana Ayyub, who has received death threats following an online hate campaign.
The incident was triggered by a malicious tweet on 20 April that falsely quoted Ayyub as supporting child rapists and saying that Muslims were no longer safe in India.
Following this, she received a barrage of hate messages, threatening her with gang rape and violence. Her phone number and home address were posted on a social media platform.
“We are highly concerned that the life of Rana Ayyub is at serious risk following these graphic and disturbing threats,” UN human rights experts said in a statement, recalling the murder of journalist-activist Gauri Lankesh in September 2017.
The experts are special rapporteurs who are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.
Speaking to ThePrint, Ayyub said she had no clue what the immediate provocation for her trolls was, claiming that she had been on their radar for a long time.
“This is how they break a woman journalist,” she said, adding that every time she did a big story, the entrenched patriarchal mindset in India caused scores of individuals to resort to acts of slut-shaming and sexism in order to bring her down.
She said that the UN statement was a welcome step. “I am glad that the United Nations has issued a statement. That is a bit of a relief but I will only feel safer if the Indian government acts on this,” said Ayyub, the author of the controversial book, Gujarat Files.
The UN experts also expressed concern that despite filing a police complaint, she had not received any protection yet.
“We call on India…to ensure the threats against her are promptly and thoroughly investigated,” the UN experts said.
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
“The government 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,” they added.
Last month, the Delhi Union of Journalists had condemned the relentless trolling of Ayyub.
It called upon Twitter to “refine its tools and immediately act to stop such serious abuse of the platform”.