Volker Türk Voices Alarming Concerns for Niger Amidst Crisis
In a stark and urgent call, UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk has voiced grave concerns for the people of Niger, a nation already grappling with dire conditions, who now face even greater hardships following last month’s military coup.
Türk’s plea stands as a resounding call to the coup leaders to promptly reinstate constitutional order and uphold democratic values.
A Nation in Precarious Circumstances
Türk highlighted the harsh reality facing Niger, one of the world’s poorest nations, highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change. The people of Niger, who have already endured years of adversity, now face a precarious situation as their democratically elected leaders are forcibly removed from power, defying constitutional norms.
This military intervention has led to the detention of elected officials, severely disrupting the country’s path to development and democracy.
A Cry for Restoration of Democracy
Expressing the urgency of the situation, Türk underscored the dire consequences of the coup. The very individuals elected by the people to alleviate their destitution have been ousted from power through force, disrupting the constitutional order.
Türk’s unequivocal message demands the immediate release of those detained and the swift restoration of democracy, asserting that force cannot undermine the will of the people.
Escalating Hardships Amidst Chaos
The aftermath of the coup has magnified the suffering of the Nigerian population. With nearly half of the people living in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $2.15 a day, the coup has exacerbated their plight.
The country’s borders are sealed, trade has ground to a halt, power cuts have plunged communities into darkness, and the cost of food has surged. The dire circumstances have prompted the UN High Commissioner to call for unrestricted access to humanitarian assistance, ensuring the flow of critical supplies to alleviate the mounting crisis.
A Call for Unrestricted Humanitarian Aid
Highlighting the urgency of the situation, Türk emphasized the necessity for unimpeded humanitarian assistance.
The UN High Commissioner stresses that the free movement of goods, flights, and personnel must ensure the affected population’s access to basic necessities such as food, medical aid, and essential relief supplies.
Türk’s plea resonates with the pressing need to provide relief to the suffering Nigerien population in the wake of this turmoil.
Upholding Democratic Values
Türk expressed deep concern over the coup leaders’ decision to prosecute President Mohamed Bazoum and others on charges of high treason.
Asserting that this move lacks legal foundation and undermines the functioning of democratic institutions, Türk highlighted the potential political motivations behind such actions.
The UN Rights Chief called for the immediate halt of such proceedings, safeguarding the principles of democracy and just governance.
Erosion of Civic Space and Freedom
Türk also highlighted the distressing erosion of civic space in Niger. Allegations of intimidation against journalists, bans on international media outlets, and other curbs on freedom of expression and public assembly have raised alarm.
These restrictions on fundamental rights have further exacerbated the tumultuous situation, stifling the people’s voices and curtailing their ability to exercise their rights.
Troubling Pattern of Unconstitutional Shifts
Türk pointed out the disturbing pattern of unconstitutional government changes orchestrated by military forces in West Africa.
The Niger coup marks the sixth such incident in the region within the last three years. Türk drew attention to the profound toll these actions take on the local populace, emphasizing that these unconstitutional shifts only serve to exacerbate existing hardships.
Preserving the Essence of Freedoms
Türk underscored the pivotal importance of upholding freedoms in Niger. The democratic progress achieved through President Bazoum’s victory in 2021, marking the country’s first peaceful transition of power, is now at risk.
Türk firmly asserted that military generals cannot act whimsically to subvert the will of the people. In an era where governance by force has no place, Türk’s message resounds with the call for democratic principles to prevail and guide the nation toward stability and progress.