Parliament Media Conference: Declining Human Rights in India

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On December 8th, Justice For All Canada and human rights groups held a media conference in Canadian Parliament to commemorate the arrival of International Human Rights Day. Below is a transcript delivered by our government relations manager, Saleha Faruque. A video of the address can be seen here. Justice For All Canada was honoured to present alongside representatives from Canadians United Against HateUyghur Rights Advocacy Project (URAP), Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), and the University of Ottawa Human Rights Research and Education Centre.
December 18th, 2022 

Canada’s newly released Indo-Pacific Strategy calls India “the world’s largest democracy.” But a democracy cannot coexist with a government ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is a right-wing, nationalist party founded by an organization inspired by 20th-century European fascism (RSS). And as a result, over the past 20 years under the BJP, India has displayed a strong appetite for fascism impacting their most vulnerable minorities, particularly Muslims, Dalits and Christians.

So much so, that the NGO Genocide Watch has issued a genocide alert for Muslim minorities in India. 

Under Prime Minister Modi’s regime, attacks on religious minorities have spiked by extremist right-wing supporters of his government, especially against Muslims. Since Modi came into power in 2014, Muslims in India have received constant hate-mongering from Hindu nationalists and extremists in everyday society and across digital spaces. Such discriminatory actions are often sponsored by groups or individuals close to the BJP government.

The Failure of Indian Muslims to remain silent over state-imposed impunity has resulted in the indiscriminate demolition of Muslim-owned homes and businesses after they are linked to protesting the BJP’s treatment of Muslims. These shocking demolitions are a new phenomenon, whereby the homes and livelihoods of minorities are under threat.  

Today in India, BJP officials openly deliver Public Hate speeches and shocking anti-minority rhetoric. All while India’s Prime Minster offers his tacit support while refusing to stand against such overt displays of racist discrimination. This is not only consistent with the 10 stages of genocide. But it also led to economic boycotts of Muslims, mob lynchings against Muslims and Dalits, and other acts of discrimination against Muslims, including Christians and Dalits.

Under orders of the BJP, today thousands of Indian security forces are stationed in Kashmir – an Indigenous and occupied region and location of next year’s G20. Kashmir is also home to thousands of activists and journalists arbitrarily detained for spotlighting the BJP’s oppression of their fellow Kashmiris.

In December 2019, the Modi administration introduced a series of discriminatory citizenship policies which threaten to disenfranchise and strip millions of Indian Muslims of their Indian citizenship.

The truth is, Democracy cannot exist in India, while institutions meant to hold the government accountable are being degraded, resulting in the widespread persecution and demonization of minorities.

These realities have been widely documented and reported not just by Justice For All Canada, but by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the US Commissions on International Religious Freedoms, and other human rights think tanks.

Today, I speak truth to power on behalf of thousands of Indo-Canadians who live with trauma and fear for their loved ones back home. I also represent Canadians who care about global and domestic human rights. Together, we call on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to acknowledge the Indian government’s discriminatory anti-minority laws, the rising threat of genocide against Muslims and the persecution of Christians, Dalits and other minorities. 

Ambitious trade deals with India like CEPA and FIPA only empower and embolden fascist Indian leaders seeking to advance an exclusionary atmosphere unwelcoming of minorities. Instead of developing trade deals with BJP leaders responsible for this mayhem, Canada should move to sanction Indian government officials responsible for, and complicit in, gross human rights violations against Muslims and other minorities in India. 

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Disclaimer: Parliament Media Conference: Declining Human Rights in India - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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