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Edited By Adam Rizvi, The India observer, TIO, NJ: The US State Department’s decision to exclude India from its gallery of global religious freedom offenders has sparked a huge protest in America. Several human rights organizations have openly lambasted the Biden administration for failing to formally designate India as one of the world’s worst religious freedom offenders.
All these organizations were equivocal in saying that India has an appalling record of violations against religious minorities and are dismayed at the US government’s attitude of ‘ignoring’ the persecution of religious minorities in India.
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David Curry, President of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), said the US decision to exclude India from global religious freedom offenders was a “bald-faced political maneuver” and a “shameful” act.
Speaking during a Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill, Curry said, I see a “double standard” apparent in the State Department’s willingness to list other US allies, including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, as CPCs while India is consistently being left off the list.
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“The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the US State Department “did not honor the law” in its refusal to designate India as a Country of Particular Concern” Curry added.
The briefing, cosponsored by several US-based civil society groups, mostly consisting of the diaspora and was held at the release function of a news report prepared by the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), titled “Genocide Convention and the Persecution of Muslims in India.” It was attended by congressional staffers, other government officials, and members of civil society.
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On the occasion, Rasheed Ahmed, Executive Director of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) said; “If there’s one thing the world should have learned from the Holocaust, it is that silence is complicity. That is why it’s of the utmost importance that Secretary Blinken and the State Department listen to the victims and designate India as a CPC in 2023.”
Moderating the briefing was Nadine Maenza, who served as USCIRF’s Vice Chair from 2018-2020 and Chair from 2020-2022, said, the State Department’s decision to not include India on its list of CPCs for this year, “is disappointing, and frankly unacceptable, on many counts.”
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Dr. Gregory Stanton, the founder of the global watchdog organization Genocide Watch, called on the US government to be vocal in condemning the actions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “We need to make very clear to Modi that he’s not going to get away with this kind of persecution of Muslims,” he said.
Speaking specifically on the “authoritarian crackdown” on Muslim-majority Kashmir, Dr. Ather Zia, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Northern Colorado, stated that “widespread xenophobia and Islamophobia, fueled by Hindu supremacy and ethnonationalism,” are at the heart of human rights abuses in Kashmir.
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“Kashmiris exist in a state of siege, caught amidst a dense web of Indian soldiers, checkpoints, barbed wires, bunkers, military convoys, trucks, drones, armored vehicles, garrisons, secret prisons, jails, and military bases,” said Zia.
Sunita Viswanath, Co-Founder of Hindus for Human Rights, demanded, “The US State Department must designate Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who has committed religious freedom violation as an individual of particular concern and added that all such individuals be effectively banned from entering or conducting business in the United States.”
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“India is our ally, and just as importantly, it is the world’s largest democracy. And the systematic persecution of 200 million religious minorities in a democracy is simply unacceptable,” Sunita said
Organizers of the briefing consisted of Genocide Watch, World Without Genocide, Indian American Muslim Council, ASPAIRE, 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, International Commission for Dalit Rights, Center for Pluralism, American Muslim Institution, Students Against Hindutva Ideology, International Society for Peace and Justice, The Humanism Project and Association of Indian Muslims of America.
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Curated and Compiled by Humra Kidwai
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