New US State Department report highlights human rights abuses in India
A new report released by the US State Department has highlighted India’s worsening track record of human rights abuses under the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The 2022 International Religious Freedom (IRF) report examines key issues affecting Muslims and religious minorities, including anti-Muslim riots, violence against Christians, the criminalization of religious conversion, the hijab ban in Karnataka, demolitions of Muslim-owned properties, Hinduization of school materials, arbitrary arrests of Muslims praying, denial of bail for Muslim activists under anti-terror law, demolitions of mosques and churches, cow vigilantism, mob lynchings, and hate speeches by BJP leaders inciting violence against Muslims.
In a special briefing presenting the report, an unnamed senior State Department official stated that he was “saddened” to see the atrocities outlined in the India section of the report, pointing out that the Holocaust Memorial Museum “lists [India] as one of its top countries of concern… with regards to potential for mass killings there.”
“What we outline in today’s report is… continued targeted attacks against religious communities…; dehumanizing rhetoric, including open calls for genocide against Muslims; lynching and other hate-fueled violence, attacks on houses of worship and home demolitions, and in some cases impunity and even clemency for those who’ve engaged in attacks on religious minorities,” the official said.
The State Department’s report echoes findings recently reported by the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). USCIRF has called upon the State Department to hold India accountable for these human rights violations by blocking BJP leaders from entering the US and freezing their assets.
BJP leaders threaten Karnataka voters, spread hate speech after election defeat
After the BJP’s humiliating defeat in Karnataka elections, BJP leaders have begun lashing out against voters through hate speech and threats.
A former BJP lawmaker who lost his seat in the Hassan city assembly, Preetham Gowda, directly threatened the Muslim community during a speech.
“People from that one particular community, who have shown us… We’ll show you what we are, very soon,” said Gowda, who is known for his anti-Muslim sentiments. “In the coming days, let their God take care of them. I’ll show them the power of Preetham Gowda.”
While speaking out against the recent murder of a BJP worker and his family, Karnataka BJP president Nalin Kumar Kateel lashed out against Muslims as a whole with hateful rhetoric.
“Talibanisation has begun. Those indulging in anti-national activities are rising up and destroying peace and harmony. This is happening because [the opposition] harbored and promoted these types of people,” he said, referencing Muslims.
In a wholly hypocritical statement, he added, “The politics of hatred is going on in the state,” despite widespread reporting on the BJP’s use of hate speech to polarize voters.
Kateel is facing the loss of his position as state BJP president after the election defeat.
UN expert says G20 meeting in Kashmir normalizes denial of rights to Kashmiris
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Fernand de Varennes, has released a statement slamming India’s decision to host the upcoming G20 meeting in military-controlled Kashmir.
“The Government of India is seeking to normalise what some have described as a military occupation by instrumentalising a G20 meeting and portray an international ‘seal of approval,’” Varennes said.
He added that the G20 is “unwittingly providing a veneer of support to a facade of normalcy” in Kashmir at a time when massive human rights violations, illegal and arbitrary arrests, political persecutions, restrictions and even suppression of free media and human rights defenders continue to escalate.”
“International human rights obligations and the UN Declaration of Human Rights should still be upheld by organisations such as the G20,” Varennes said. “The situation in Jammu and Kashmir should be decried and condemned, not pushed under the rug and ignored with the holding of this meeting.”
Muslim-majority Kashmir has been under the brutal control of the Indian government and military for decades. After the Modi regime revoked Kashmir’s special semi-autonomous status in 2019, Kashmiris have been subjected to worsened human rights violations, including wanton arrests, disappearances, and murder of Kashmiri civilians for decades.