This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.
Papua violence and ‘snake’ interrogation condemned by human rights experts
The use of a snake by Indonesian police during the interrogation of an indigenous Papuan boy, amounts to torture, UN-appointed rights experts said on Thursday.
An online video released earlier this month shows the handcuffed youngster, arrested for allegedly stealing a mobile phone, screaming in fear as officers pushed the snake’s head towards his face.
The case is just the latest in a “widespread pattern of violence, alleged arbitrary arrests” and “methods amounting to torture” by the Indonesian police and military in Papua, the rights experts insisted.
Representatives of the Indonesian police have publicly acknowledged the incident and apologised for it.
But the UN experts appealed for prompt and impartial investigations to be carried out, adding that such tactics “are often used” against indigenous Papuans and human rights defenders.
The development comes amid an ongoing military operation in Papua, which became part of Indonesia in 1969, and has seen an increasingly vocal pro-independence movement.
‘Bring decolonization to a successful conclusion’ UN Chief
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for the international process of decolonization to be brought to a successful conclusion, as he addressed the Special Committee on the subject at UN headquarters in New York on Thursday.
Mr. Guterres reminded his audience that decolonization is one of the most significant chapters in the UN’s history, propelling the growth of the organization to today’s total of 193 countries.
But, he added, there is still work to be done, as 17 territories around the world waiting to attain self-government.
The UN chief specifically mentioned the case of New Caledonia which, in 2018, held a referendum on independence from France, whose cooperation in the process, he said, was “commendable.”
Bengalis celebrate protection of their culture on International Mother Language Day
Countries around the world have been celebrating International Mother Language Day on February 21, but for Bengalis it has a particular significance.
The Day was officially recognized by the General Assembly in 2008, following lobbying by Bangladesh, but the origins stretch back to 1952, when Bangladesh was still a part of Pakistan.
Bengali students protested a Government order imposing Urdu as the sole national language, and the widespread unrest that followed, led to the Bengali language being granted official status four years later.
Speaking to Paulina Greer from UN News, Ambassador Masud bin Momen, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN, explained what his country is doing to ensure linguistic diversity worldwide.
In Bangladesh we have set up an international mother language centre, to research languages which are vanishing and also how to protect, promote and preserve them. We should all strive to protect whatever we have from the past, and language is the most significant manifestation of any such cultural identity, and on the basis of language you have songs and lullabies, and other cultural forms.
And you can hear the full interview with Ambassador Momen on our Website, www.news.un.org
Conor Lennon, UN News.