As Modi addresses UN, human rights groups decry “monstrosity” of persecution of Muslims, Christians, Dalits, and other minorities in India
Demonstrators gathered outside UN to protest fascism, hate campaigns, weaponized rape, apartheid, lynchings, unlawful arrests, attacks on the media, and other abuses in India as Indian PM Modi addressed UN General Assembly
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK CITY (Sept. 26, 2021) – While observers said it was “shameful” that President Biden failed to publicly address widespread persecution of religious minorities in India when he met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday, more than 100 members of interfaith and human rights groups spoke out as Modi addressed the United Nations General Assembly. Speakers condemned the egregious human rights violations and murders of religious minorities in India under a government that openly supports Hindu supremacy.
The rally was sponsored by 21 organizations under the banner of Coalition to Stop Genocide in India, including Ambedkar International Center, Ambedkar King Study Circle, Black Lives Matter, Coalition Against Fascism in India, Dalit Solidarity Forum, New York City Democratic Socialists’ Racial Justice Working Group, Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America, Hindus for Human Rights, Indian American Muslim Council, India Civil Watch International, International Commission for Dalit Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace, MICAH Faith Institute, Muslim Community Network, National Coalition against Caste Discrimination in the USA, NY Sikh Council, New York State Council of Churches, SALAM, Students Against Hindutva Ideology, and Voices Against Fascism in India.
BRAD LANDER, NYC COUNCILMAN AND COMPTROLLER ELECT
“As religious people, we have a responsibility to build an inclusive multi racial democracy. So when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu comes to New York in the name of perverting my religious tradition, Judaism, it is a way of creating religious oppression, and it is important for me to stand here. And when Indian Prime Minister Modi comes here, we organize in solidarity to demand that we build a world not on theocratic or fascist principles,” said Brad Lander, New York City Councilmember and comptroller elect.
IMAM SALMAN SHEIKH
“The Prophet Muhammad – peace be on him – is perhaps the earliest known person in history to have recorded a clear statement against racism when he is reported to have said in his famous sermon: ‘All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black, nor a black has any superiority over white except by righteousness and good action,’” declared Imam Salman Sheikh of ICOB (Islamic Center of Old Bridge-New Jersey). “But now it is up to us to continue the march for equality, justice and peace. I don’t see this as a fight against any people. Rather I see this a battle which all humanity has to fight together against the racism, which is the handiwork of Satan the accursed.”
PANDIT SANJAI DOOBAY
Hindu Pandit Sanjai Doobay: “As Hindus, we salute the light, ‘Shubham Karoti Kalyanam.’ As Muslims, ‘Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.’ And the Christian Bible says God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light.’ If we are together, our light will always be brighter. We will pray for that light, for that peace. Mr. Modi, your Hindutva is not my Hinduism. You are not Hindu. A Hindu is a brother or sister of Humanity.”
NEW YORK STATE COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
“As Christians, we grieve for many Hindus who watch their faith being co-opted and distorted by nationalist government using Hinduism to oppress people of other faiths,” declared Rev. Peter Cook, New York State Council of Churches. “In Jesus’ name, I condemn the government of any country which uses the dominant faith of its people to destroy democracy and deny the freedom and human rights of religious minorities. In this spirit, we call on the Modi government to stop distorting Hinduism to give tacit approval to the burning and desecration of churches, mosques and temples.”
INDIAN AMERICAN MUSLIM COUNCIL
“Today, India is a far cry from what was envisioned by its founding fathers. Attacks on and killings of Muslims has become the norm. Mosques and churches are routinely vandalized and often demolished even as the police stand by. Tens of thousands of Muslims have been incarcerated across India under the worst of charges such as sedition and terrorism without any evidence. India must stop discriminating against its minorities, give equal rights to all its Citizens, and uphold the Indian Constitution.” exclaimed Syed Ali, president of the Indian American Muslim Council.
ASSAULT ON PRESS FREEDOM: AATISH TASEER
“We came for myriad reasons to protest Modi today, said author/writer Aatish Taseer. ”I came because of the unprecedented assault on press freedom. I have been the target of this regime. I can no longer go back to the country I grew up in—can no longer see my 91-year-old grandmother. But what Modi has done to me he has done to millions of my countrymen and that is why there is now so broad a coalition of people who want to see him go.”
U.S. HOSTED A FASCIST: JAPNEET SINGH
“The United States of America and the Joe Biden administration shamelessly hosted a fascist and murderer who was responsible for killing thousands of Muslims as the CM of Gujarat, and now as the PM of India has violated numerous human rights of protesting farmers!” declared Japneet Singh of the New York City Sikh Council.
DALIT SOLIDARITY FORUM
“Lynching of specific groups of people considered physically and morally dirty and ideologically dunce and are therefore dispensable as accidental beings,” exclaimed Roja Singh of the Dalit Solidarity Forum. “Such monstrosity has heightened since Modi came to power.”
JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE
Stephan Shaw of Jewish Voice of Peace compared Indian apartheid to Israeli apartheid. “I’m here today because the opposition to Jewish supremacy is the same as the opposition to Hindu supremacy,” he told the group. “I’m here because a bond of solidarity has formed between those who fight for equality in Israel/Palestine and those who fight for equality in India. I am a Jew, and I am ashamed of what some of my people are doing in Israel and in Palestine. What’s happening in India is straight out of the Israeli playbook, and that must worry us.”
HINDUS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Shivani Parikh of Hindus for Human Rights recalled that as Chief Minister in Gujarat, Modi led a state sanctioned genocide of Muslims and ignored the communal violence that killed and displaced hundreds of Muslims and their families in 2002.
“For us, the words from the Rig Veda — vasudhaiva kutumbakam – the world is one family — are not simply a hallmark slogan, but our ardent prayer for peace, justice and human rights for all in the world,” said Sunita Viswanath, Co-Founder of Hindus for Human Rights. I am standing outside the United Nations today holding this sign — REAL HINDUS DON’T LYNCH — because the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi doesn’t represent all Hindus, all Indians. He doesn’t represent me!
“And I will keep showing up until the country of my birth, India, a country I love with all my heart, leaves the dark and dangerous path it is on.”
INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION FOR DALIT RIGHTS
Anitha Rathod of the International Commission for Dalit Rights said that in recent years in India, there has been an unprecedented increase in hate crimes and violence against the Dalits, especially Dalit women, and other minorities in India.
“Growing cases of heinous crimes like rape, murder and lynching continue to shock the world. What is even more shocking is that perpetrators often get support from the state itself.”
FEDERATION OF INDIAN AMERICAN CHRISTIAN ORGANIZATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA
“The largest democracy in the world is for name’s sake only and does not allow freedom to practice one’s own religion, freedom to express one’s viewpoints, freedom to choose one’s diet, freedom for the press to report events freely,” said Koshy George, president of the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America and the National Association of Asian Indian Christians. “The current ruling party in India has managed to squash all the oppositions using whatever means they have, legal or illegal.”
“I am I am here today to speak against the hateful political ideology known as Hindutva,” exclaimed Audrey Truschke, Associate Professor of South Asian History at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey. “Hindutva has many vices. It is misogynist. It is casteist. It is violent. Hindutva’s unique harm in the South Asian landscape is that it is fascist. Hindutva’s early articulators were enamored with Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany. One Hindutva leader even spoke laudatorily of Nazi policies regarding the Jews.”