The Office of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner on Thursday called on Indian authorities to protect journalist Rana Ayyub who has received death threats following an online hate campaign.
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.
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.
“We are highly concerned that the life of Rana Ayyub is at serious risk following these graphic and disturbing threats,” said the UN experts, who are in contact with Indian authorities about the situation.
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, which left around 2,000 people dead.