This article originally appeared on VICE India.
After a controversy earlier this month, in which Indian actor Priyanka Chopra was accused of encouraging war against Pakistan, and a Pakistani minister asked for her position as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador to be revoked, the United Nations (UN) has now declared that the actor has the right to speak her mind, and doesn’t reflect the opinions of the UN.
"When UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors speak in their personal capacity, they retain the right to speak about issues that interest or concern them," said Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. "Their personal views or actions do not necessarily reflect those of UNICEF.”
Chopra came under fire earlier this month when, at Beauty Con LA event on Aug. 10, she was confronted by a Pakistani activist who pointed out her tweet “Jai Hind #IndianArmedForces” in the middle of an almost-war situation between India and Pakistan.
“It was hard hearing you talk about humanity, because as your neighbour, a Pakistani, I know you’re a bit of a hypocrite, you tweeted on February 26, ‘Jai Hind! #IndianArmedForced’. You are a UNICEF ambassador for peace and you are encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan,” said the woman named Ayesha Malik.
To this, Chopra began by condescendingly asking Malik if she was done “venting”. She then went on to say, “I have many, many friends from Pakistan and I am from India and war is not something I'm really fond of but I am patriotic so I'm sorry if I hurt sentiments of people who do love me and have loved me. But I think all of us have a sort of middle ground that we have to walk, just like you probably have to as well, the way you just came at me...Girl, don't yell, we're all here for love. You're embarrassing yourself.”
Her response got a lot of criticism, many of whom said Chopra’s response was condescending and arrogant. On August 21, Shireen Mazari, Pakistan’s Minister for Human Rights, sent a letter to the UN seeking her removal as the Goodwill Ambassador. “Ms Chopra has publicly endorsed Indian government’s position and also supported the nuclear threat issued to Pakistan by the Indian Defence Minister. All this goes completely against the principles of peace and goodwill that Ms Chopra is supposed to uphold as a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Peace,” read the letter.
For now, though, the UN body’s position on the matter is clear and the debate seemingly over. But it looks like it will take a while for people to, as Malik’s Twitter bio now states, “stop venting”.
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