Ask Biden to name India among worldâ€™s worst violators of religious freedom
A US congresswoman and some UN and US Commission on International Religious Freedom officials have expressed deep concern over alleged violations of human rights and religious freedom in India under Prime Minister Narendra Modiâ€™s rule.
Stressing the â€œseverity of the situation and the urgent need for action,â€ Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib called on the Biden administration to designate India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), according to a press release from Indian American Muslim Council, one of the co-sponsors of a special Congressional briefing on July 19.
â€œFor the last four years, we’ve witnessed severe escalating attacks on religious minorities under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party,â€ she said at the briefing at the Rayburn House Office Building, co-sponsored by IAMC and 17 other American civil rights organizations.
â€œAnd yet we know our own US State Department has yet to designate India as a Country of Particular Concern under US law,â€ said the Democrat from Michigan.
â€œIâ€™m proud to have stood with my colleagues in boycotting Prime Minister Modi’s speech [during his recent US visit]. This House should never be used as a platform to spread bigotry and hate,â€ she added.
United Nations Special Rapporteur of Minority Rights Fernand de Varennes spoke of an â€œobvious and disturbing trend in the increasing allegations,â€ relating to human rights abuses against minorities that are being submitted to the UN regarding India, according to the release.
READ: USCIRF flags India for violations of religious freedom (April 26, 2022)
â€œWe are talking of millions of minorities who are directly affected in some of these allegations,â€ de Varennes was cited as saying. â€œWhen you have millions whose citizenship is denied, millions whose rights to political participation and representation are curtailed, hundreds of thousands whose livelihood and that of their children is threatened, it’s hard to conclude that this is not part of intentional policies by authorities.â€
USCIRF Commissioner David Curry cited similar concerns, noting that USCIRF has been calling on the US State Department to designate India as a CPC – a label reserved for the worldâ€™s worst violators of religious freedom – since 2020, the release said.
â€œDuring Prime Minister Modiâ€™s state visit, we publicly urged the Biden Administration to raise religious freedom concerns,â€ he was quoted as saying.
â€œReligious freedom was mentioned briefly during the visit but was certainly not a focal pointâ€¦ Modi denied that discrimination of religious minorities existed in India. We strongly disagree.â€
READ: Four US lawmakers accuse Modi of curbing religious freedom (January 27, 2022)
De Varennes also called on the United States to step forward as a defender of global human rights, noting that the â€œmassive persecutionâ€ in India is â€œdifficult to reconcile with democracy,â€ according to the release.
â€œWhat we are now seeing is a perversion of what India can be, has been, and should be,â€ he was quoted as saying.
â€œ[The Biden administration] is not only condoning the behavior of the Indian administration, but also encouraging it to continue behaving the way it has been,â€ said Ajit Sahi, Advocacy Director at IAMC. â€œWhen Biden invited Narendra Modi to a state dinner, he used that to validate his atrocious rule in India.â€
â€œWe call ourselves the largest democracy in the world, but this is what democracy looks like in India,â€ said Ajay kumar VB, Executive Director of India-based research and advocacy group Equitivies Foundation. â€œIf you [in the United States] invite people like Modi to Capitol Hill, you’re having dinner with somebody who has blood on his hands.â€
Besides IAMC the special Congressional briefing was co-sponsored by Genocide Watch, World Without Genocide, Hindus for Human Rights, International Christian Concern, Jubilee Campaign, 21Wilberforce, Dalit Solidarity Forum, New York State Council of Churches, Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America, India Civil Watch International, Center for Pluralism, International Commission for Dalit Rights, American Muslim Institution, Students Against Hindutva Ideology, International Society for Peace and Justice, The Humanism Project and Association of Indian Muslims of America.