Broad range of experts call for inclusion of human rights and religious freedom in the US-India Strategic Dialogue.

April 4th 2014: Coalition Against Genocide (CAG – http://coalitionagainstgenocide.org/), a broad alliance dedicated to justice and accountability for the Gujarat pogroms of 2002, today welcomed the congressional hearing on the subject of minorities and religious freedom in India.
The hearing was organized by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission on April 4, 2014. The congressional panel was presided by Rep. Joseph Pitts of Pennsylvania, an ardent champion of human rights and religious freedom. Rep. Keith Ellison – co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Rep. Trent Franks – co-chair of the International Religious Freedom Congressional Caucus, were also part of the panel for the hearing. The commission sought to examine the implications of the politicization of religious identities and increase in violence against religious minorities in India in the context of US-India relationship.

Several witnesses were invited to appear and present their observations and information on the subject matter. Among those that testified include Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett – Vice Chair of United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), Dr. John Dayal – Secretary General of the All-India Christian Council and a prominent member of India’s National Integration Council, Robin Phillips – Executive Director with The Advocates for Human Rights and John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch.

Alex Koshy, a spokesperson for the coalition, welcomed the hearing and its potential for positive impact in the lives of religious minorities in India. “In light of H. Res. 417, the request to incorporate human rights into the strategic dialogue framework provides a way to address the increasing difficulties bilaterally,” he said. “Often, issues of religious freedom are given a short shrift in the bilateral talks or eliminated altogether. Including it will allow for healthy dialogue instead of criticisms on the issue.”, he added.

In a written deposition, Dr. Dayal highlighted the plight of religious minorities, especially Christians and Muslims, due to the growing intolerance and polarization, repeated instances of mass violence and impunity for the perpetrators, a sluggish and compromised judiciary, and enactment of draconian laws whose implementation is repressive towards religious minorities. In his oral testimony, Dr. Dayal observed that multiple states have enacted laws that curtail religious freedom, while the votaries of the supremacist Hindutva ideology have openly called for the enactment of a national law with similar scope. He urged the United States and the international community to play a role in safeguarding India’s pluralism, and called on the US government to incorporate human rights and religious freedom in the US-India Strategic Dialogue framework.

Robin Phillips’s written submission brought out the entire gamut of issues faced by religious minorities, including the impunity and even support enjoyed by those accused of fomenting violence and enmity. She cited the analysis of Pew Research Center in which India was among the worst performers in terms of government restrictions and social hostilities involving religion. Her testimony also underscored the apathy, indifference and lack of will of the local governments and judiciary in providing timely relief and remedy to the victims. John Sifton cited instances underscoring the ineffective remedial conditions for victims of communal riots and targeted attacks.

Dr. Shaik Ubaid, one of the co-founders of the coalition remarked, “Despite being a functioning democracy since its independence more than 60 years ago, Indian law enforcement and judiciary are lacking in both the will and capacity to tackle the menace of human rights violations by Hindutva organizations. We thank Congressmen Pitts, Ellison, Wolf, Franks and McGovern for spearheading this hearing and highlighting the increasing number of problems faced by religious minorities in India in their free exercise of constitutional rights.” He also criticised Hindu American Foundation (HAF) saying, “They pretend to be an interfaith and human rights organization but came out opposing the hearing on religious freedom and justifying anti-conversion laws. Such duplicity is the hallmark of the Hindutva ideology.”

The hearing was attended by a packed audience and several lawmakers participated in the course of the proceedings. There were several pointed questions from the panel and the members of the committee were surprised at the number and range of the issues faced by religious minorities.

Coalition members expressed hope that increased attention to the issue of religious freedom will bring about positive changes from the government to the needs of those that are vulnerable and affected.

CAG is a group of over 40 organizations, representing a diverse cross section of the religious and political spectrum of the Indian diaspora, including Hindu and other faith-based organizations. The coalition is committed to democracy, pluralism and to the preservation of the idea of India.

CONTACT:

1. Dr. Shaik Ubaid
Phone: (516) 567-0783

2. Mr. Raja Swamy
Phone: (864) 804-0216

Coalition Against Genocide
Phone/Fax: (443) 927-9039
Email: media@coalitionagainstgenocide.org
http://www.coalitionagainstgenocide.org

REFERENCES:

TLHRC Hearing: The Plight of Religious Minorities in India
HEARING WEBSITE: http://tlhrc.house.gov/hearing_notice.asp?id=1259
RECORDING: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/45757005

Testimony of John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch
http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/04/04/plight-religious-minorities-india

Testimony of Katrina Lantos Swett, Vice Chair, USCIRF
http://uscirf.newtarget.net/sites/default/files/India%20testimony%20TLHRC%20%20April%202014%20FINAL.pdf

The Advocates’ Robin Phillips Testifies before Congressional Committee
http://theadvocatespost.org/2014/04/04/impunity-emboldening-forces-of-religious-intolerance-in-india/

H.Res 417 — Praising India’s rich religious diversity and commitment to tolerance and equality, and reaffirming the need to protect the rights and freedoms of religious minorities.
http://pitts.house.gov/sites/pitts.house.gov/files/documents/PittsEllison-IndiaReligiousFreedom.pdf

Pew Report on Restrictions on Religion – Social Hostilities reach a six year high
http://www.pewforum.org/2014/01/14/religious-hostilities-reach-six-year-high/#interactive

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Attempt to force news portal to withdraw interview critical of Police chief undermines freedom of press

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC - www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, condemned the threats to senior lawyer Mr. Mehmood Paracha by vested interests operating through underworld goons. IAMC has demanded the state administration nab the culprits and take immediate measures for the safety and security of the senior lawyer. Advocate Paracha is representing German bakery bomb blast case convict Mirza Himayat Baig.

Besides fighting to prove Himayat Baig’s innocence, Mr. Paracha has been fighting many terror related cases of Muslim youth across the country. Mr. Paracha reported he is getting threatening messages from the underworld don Ravi Pujari since his recent interview appeared on the TCN site. In the exclusive interview to online news portal TwoCircles.Net (TCN – www.twocircles.net) Advocate Paracha, had courted controversy by demanding that that the current Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria be “arrested as a terrorist” and tried under anti-terror laws.

The senior lawyer had stated, “The fact remains that three investigating agencies (NIA, Delhi Police’ Special Cell and Central Crime Branch, Bangalore), my own understanding of the case, the charge sheet and the subsequent events, all point to one fact that the Maharashtra ATS led by Mr. Rakesh Maria was responsible in not only falsely implicating Himayat Baig, but also in the process actively saving the real terrorists,” adding, “the police officers involved, including Mr Rakesh Maria should be arrested for conducting activities which are terror related. He has committed offense prima facie which are terror cases and he should be arrested as a terrorist.”

Mr. Paracha’s case is following the same pattern as the case of late Advocate Shahid Azmi, who was killed in broad daylight in his office by vested interests inimical to the rule of law. “The fact that there are threats to the life of the senior advocate demonstrates how the rule of law is disregarded with impunity when those struggling for justice start to take on the mighty and powerful,” said Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of IAMC.

IAMC also condemned the Mumbai police department’s attempt to intimidate the online news portal TCN by demanding the removal of Mr. Paracha’s interview wherein he made the bold and stunning revelation about the dubious role of Police Commissioner and former Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria in terror related cases. “The Mumbai Police’s demand that the online portal withdraw the interview with Mr. Paracha is an unacceptable attack on the freedom of the press. It strikes at the very roots of our existence as a democracy where the state security apparatus is supposed to operate under the law and help uphold it, ” added Mr. Khan.

IAMC has called on the media, civil society institutions, legal fraternity and people of conscience, to strongly resist attempts by the Mumbai Police to infringe on the due process of law and on the freedom of media institutions.

Indian-American Muslim Council (formerly Indian Muslim Council-USA) is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 15 chapters across the nation. For more information please visit our new website at:http://www.iamc.com

REFERENCES:

Rakesh Maria should be arrested for conducting activities which are terror related: Advocate Paracha
http://twocircles.net/2014mar18/rakesh_maria_should_be_arrested_conducting_activities_which_are_terror_related_advocate

Block articles against Maria: Police to US site
http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/block-articles-against-maria-police-to-us-site/

Mumbai Police wants TCN articles removed; Support for TCN comes from all quarters
http://twocircles.net/2014mar20/mumbai_police_wants_tcn_articles_removed_support_tcn_comes_all_quarters.html

Remove Maharashtra ATS Chief Rakesh Maria: JTSA
http://twocircles.net/2010may04/remove_maharashtra_ats_chief_rakesh_maria_jtsa.html

6/11 call record issue may suffer under Maria: Kamte’s wife
http://www.firstpost.com/mumbai/2611-call-record-issue-may-suffer-under-maria-kamtes-wife-1395627.html

CONTACT:
Ishaq Syed
Phone/Fax: 1-800-839-7270
Email: info@iamc.com

ADDRESS:
6321 W Dempster St. Suite 295
Morton Grove, IL 60053
Phone/Fax: 1-800-839-7270
Email: info@iamc.com

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Gujarat pogrom commemorated by Indian Americans

February 28, 2014

Justice for Gujarat victims is pivotal in the struggle to save India’s secular tradition Friday, February 28, 2014 The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC - www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, joined human rights activists, survivors and people of conscience across the world in commemorating the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 [...]

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Coalition Against Genocide flays hype over US ambassador Nancy Powell’s meeting with Narendra Modi

February 14, 2014

Administration showed poor judgement in reaching out to Modi but is justified in maintaining the policy over his visa ban Washington DC, Friday, February 14, 2014 Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), a broad alliance dedicated to justice and accountability for the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 and to combating extremist ideologies that were its genesis, today expressed [...]

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Witch-hunt against Teesta Setalvad an indictment of Gujarat government say Indian Americans

January 17, 2014

January 15, 2014 The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC - www.iamc.com), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has condemned attempts by the Gujarat government to use the state security apparatus to harass and intimidate noted human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, and the organization she represents, Citizens for Justice and Peace. Teesta [...]

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Open Letter to UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav‏

January 1, 2014

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Lower court goes along with dirty SIT’s clean chit to Modi

December 26, 2013

Indian Americans renew commitment to secure justice for victims of Gujarat pogroms Thursday, December 26, 2013 Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC - www.iamc.com), an advocacy organization dedicated to preserving India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has called into question a dubious verdict of the lower court in the Narendra Modi Gujarat pogroms case. A Magistrate’s court in [...]

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International Human Rights Day a time for renewed resolve to uplift humanity say Indian Americans

December 10, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, December 10, 2013 Indian American Muslim Council ( http://www.iamc.com) an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has called on people of all faiths to come together on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day, to renew their commitment to the UN Declaration of Human Rights [1] and [...]

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Hindu American Foundation reveals its supremacist ideology through smear campaign against CAG and Indian Muslims

December 6, 2013

HAF’s Opposition to House Resolution 417 is a disservice to India and Hinduism say Indian Americans   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   Washington D.C, Friday, December 6, 2013 Coalition Against Genocide (CAG - http://coalitionagainstgenocide.org/), has condemned the Hindu American Foundation’s opposition to House Resolution H.Res. 417 [1] through a smear campaign against the coalition and one of its constituents, [...]

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IAMC- San Diego Chapter’s Annual Banquet

November 8, 2013

IAMC has been working in the field of strategic advocacy for the last 11 years for safeguarding the secular, democratic and tolerant ethos of India. It is also actively engaged in speaking out against the violation of human rights and civil liberties of minorities in India. IAMC is a leading voice among the Indian Muslim [...]

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