The attack on the US Capitol clearly demonstrated the destructive impact of sustained distortion of facts, incitement to violence and hatred by political leaders, the UN’s top human rights official has said while calling on American President Donald Trump to disavow “false and dangerous” narratives.
Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday and clashed with police, resulting in four deaths and interrupting a constitutional process by Congress to affirm the victory of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the November 3 election.
“We are deeply troubled by Wednesday’s attack on the US Capitol, which demonstrated clearly the destructive impact of sustained, deliberate distortion of facts, and incitement to violence and hatred by political leaders,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Thursday.
Noting that the allegations of electoral fraud were invoked to try to undermine the right to political participation, Bachelet said she was encouraged to see that the process has continued in spite of serious attempts to disrupt it.
“We call on leaders from across the political spectrum, including the President of the United States, to disavow false and dangerous narratives, and encourage their supporters to do so as well,” she said.
Bachelet expressed dismay at the serious threats and destruction of property of media professionals yesterday and voiced support for calls from many quarters for a thorough investigation into the violence and attack on the seat of the American democracy.
Top United Nations leadership had expressed sadness and concern over the violence in Washington DC by pro-Trump demonstrators who stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers gathered to certify the Presidential election results.
“The Secretary-General is saddened by the events at the US Capitol in Washington, DC,” on Wednesday, Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General, said in a note to correspondents.
“In such circumstances, it is important that political leaders impress on their followers the need to refrain from violence, as well as to respect democratic processes and the rule of law,” the UN chief said.
President of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly Volkan Bozkir had tweeted that as President of the 193-member UN body, “I’m saddened & concerned by today’s developments at the Capitol in Washington DC. The US is one of the world’s major democracies. I believe that peace & respect for democratic processes will prevail in our host country at this critical time.” Dujarric, responding to questions Thursday on the attack on the Capitol, said Guterres calls on political leaders to impress on their followers the need to refrain from violence and respect the democratic process and rule of law.
“It’s a very important message that political leaders need to give to those who listen to them,” he said.
He added that the UN had spoken out about risks associated with social media platforms being used to propagate violence and hate speech.
“I think it just increases the responsibility of the people who manage those platforms to ensure that they are not misused to do physical harm to people,” he said.