PM Modi faces unprecedented protests in Washington DC

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Die-in protest demonstrations against the Indian PM in Washington DC.

By Muslim Mirror Network

In Washington DC, near the White House, activists held a die-in for the second consecutive day, aiming to raise awareness about the human rights track record of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Organized by a group called No Separate Justice, the protests highlighted Modi’s alleged involvement in severe human rights abuses against minority groups in India.

The activists called for the United States to impose sanctions, initiate investigations, and advocate for Modi to be brought before the International Criminal Court.

Fatima, one of the organizers, said: “We are here to expose Modi’s bloody record and ongoing violence, and we demand that he faces the consequences. We seek accountability and justice for our communities under this oppressive regime.”

The activists used their bodies as a symbolic representation of the lives that have been lost during Modi’s “reign of terror.”

Sana Qutubuddin of No Separate Justice said: “ We chose a die-in as our form of protest to highlight the gravity of the violence our communities are facing that can’t be whitewashed away by the eat, pray, love ideas Americans have about Modi and India. Despite how repressed Indian media has become under Modi’s rule, we will expose the reality.”

Earlier, Muslim leaders, lawmakers, and other allies have expressed their condemnation and organized protests in response to Modi’s state visit to the United States.

US House representatives Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, and Kweisi Mfume are among the lawmakers who have announced their intention to boycott the Indian prime minister’s address to Congress on Thursday.

They have cited concerns over the violence, media repression, and mistreatment of religious minorities, including Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Dalits, that have taken place under his right-wing nationalist government.

“Modi has a notorious and extensive record of human rights abuses,” Tlaib, Bush, Omar and Jamaal Bowman said in a statement.

“He was complicit in the 2002 Gujarat riots that killed over 1,000 people, leading to the revocation of his US visa. His government has openly targeted Muslims and other religious minorities, enabled Hindu nationalist violence, undermined democracy, targeted journalists and dissidents, and suppressed criticism using authoritarian tactics like internet shutdowns and censorship,” they said.

“It is shameful to honor these abuses by allowing Modi to address a joint session of Congress. We refuse to participate in it and will be boycotting the joint address. We stand in solidarity with the communities that have been harmed by Modi and his policies. We must never sacrifice human rights at the altar of political expediency and we urge all members of Congress who profess to stand for freedom and democracy to join us in boycotting this embarrassing spectacle.”

In a statement, the Center on Islamic Relations (Cair), the US’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, also said it “welcomes pledges by members of Congress to boycott Thursday’s joint meeting of Congress honoring India’s far-right, anti-Muslim Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.

Cair’s research and advocacy director, Corey Saylor, said: “Leaders do the right thing in the face of pressure to comply with bad ethics. Boycotting any event honoring Prime Minister Modi centers our value of religious freedom over cynical politics. We applaud these elected officials and urge others to join their leadership.”

Saylor added: “The honor of a state dinner and joint meeting of Congress signals to Modi that no one will interfere in his repression of Indian religious minorities and journalists.”

During a joint press conference with U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House on June 3, Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, denied the existence of discrimination against Indian Muslims under his government.

Asked at the press conference what steps he was willing to take to “improve the rights of Muslims and other minorities in your country and to uphold free speech,” Modi answered; they did not need to be improved.

“Our Constitution and our government, and we have proved democracy can deliver. When I say deliver – caste, creed, religion, gender, there is no space for any discrimination (in my government),” Modi said while talking to reporters.

According to reports, on Wednesday, trucks displaying banners and digital posters were observed in the streets of New York, calling on President Biden to raise concerns about alleged human rights violations in India during his interactions with Prime Minister Modi.

The banners brought attention to several issues, including the mob lynching of Muslims, Christians, and Dalits, the lack of accountability for such incidents, the prolonged detention without trial of student activist Umar Khalid, and the ban on Modi’s entry into the US from 2005 to 2014 due to allegations of his involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots. These issues were raised in an effort to highlight concerns about human rights violations in India.

Earlier, a coalition comprising 17 civil rights organizations, including the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), issued an open letter urging President Joe Biden to reconsider his decision to extend a state dinner invitation to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The letter cited concerns about the significant erosion of democratic values and the persistent violation of human rights against minority communities during Modi’s tenure as the basis for their appeal.

In the letter, the organizations express their concerns regarding the Modi administration’s role in “promoting Hindu extremist mob violence, hate crimes, and hate speech, particularly targeting Muslims and Christians.” They also highlighted the implementation of “discriminatory laws aimed at suppressing the citizenship rights of minorities, impeding religious conversions and interfaith marriages, and restricting the freedom of speech, dissent, and assembly.”

“The invitation to Modi as a state guest signals that the US supports India’s crackdown on fundamental democratic rights and emboldens the Modi administration to intensify its anti-democratic agenda,” the letter stated.

The signatories included Indian American Muslim Council, Hindus for Human Rights, Dalit Solidarity Inc., World Without Genocide, International Defenders Council, International Society for Peace and Justice, Genocide Watch, Jubilee Campaign, Asian Children’s Education Fellowship, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Misión Vida para las Naciones, Church in the Republic of Uruguay, Global Christian Relief, American Sikh Council, Human Rights and Grassroots Development Society, and International Commission for Dalit Rights.

Modi’s visit to the US is perceived as an effort by both nations to strengthen their ties, potentially reducing India’s reliance on Russia for military arms, particularly amidst its ongoing conflict with Ukraine.

Additionally, there is speculation that Modi aims to improve his international image following the receipt of various “flawed democracy” ratings for India.

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