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George Floyd’s Death Sparks Calls for UN Debate

FILE - People are seen gathered at a memorial featuring a mural of George Floyd, near the spot where he died while in police custody, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 31, 2020.

A group of African countries has sent a letter to the president of the U.N. Human Rights Council calling for a debate on racially inspired human rights violence when the council meets next week. The request was sparked by the death of African American George Floyd while in police custody in the U.S.

In its letter, the African group says the events that have unfolded since the May 25 death of George Floyd have sparked protests globally against the injustice and brutality that people of African descent face daily in many parts of the world.

It says the current racially inspired human rights violations, systemic racism, police brutality and violence against peaceful protest makes a debate airing these festering issues a matter of great urgency.

It says the death of George Floyd is not an isolated issue. The group of African ambassadors that drafted the letter notes many people of African descent have suffered the same fate due to unchecked police brutality. However, the crimes have gone largely unnoticed.

U.N. human rights spokesman Rolando Gomez tells VOA the debate is likely to occur at the council Tuesday or Wednesday, when the U.N. body takes up agenda item 9, which deals with issues of racism and discrimination.

“Structural racism and police violence are issues, which are commonly raised by states and civil society at meetings of the council, as are unlawful killings by police and racial bias in policing," Gomez said. "And, the aim, of course, is to prevent such abhorrent acts.”

The African group’s letter to the council president notes the uprising in the U.S. is a protest against systemic racism that produces state-sponsored racial violence and impunity for the perpetrators. It adds the protests the world is witnessing are a rejection of the racial inequality and discrimination suffered by black people and other people of color in the United States.

Earlier this week, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Andrew Bremberg, issued a statement expressing American horror, anger, and grief at the senseless death of George Floyd.

He said the public reaction following this grave tragedy demonstrated the American peoples’ desire to overcome racial injustice and to achieve a more equal and just society.