|Letter to President Obama from India’s Parliamentarians demands continuation of Modi visa ban|
Coalition welcomes broad consensus on the role of Narendra Modi in continued violations of human rights and religious freedom in Gujarat
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), a broad alliance dedicated to justice and accountability
for the Gujarat pogrom of 2002, hailed the letters signed by over 60 members from both houses of
India’s Parliament, calling on President Obama to maintain the ban on a US visa for Mr. Narendra
Modi, Chief Minister of the Indian State of Gujarat . The letters, written in November and
December 2012, and released to the media today by the Coalition Against Genocide, represent a
broad consensus among 15 political parties from across the ideological spectrum that Mr. Narendra
Modi is culpable for violations of human rights abuses and religious freedom in Gujarat and should
continue to be denied entry to the United States .
The letters represent an unprecedented move by MPs from various parties belonging to both
houses of Parliament, in writing a candid missive to the US President on gross violations of human
rights violations committed within India’s borders.
In 2005, in the wake of a campaign spearheaded by the Coalition Against Genocide, Mr.
Modi’s US visa was revoked and his entry to the US was banned by the State Department, under
the provisions of the International Religious Freedom Act, which makes any foreign government
official who “was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations
of religious freedom” ineligible for a visa.
“We wish to respectfully urge you to maintain the current policy of denying Mr. Modi a visa
to the United States. Given that legal cases against the culprits including many senior officials in
Mr. Modi’s administration are still pending in the court of law, any revoking of the ban at this
juncture would be seen as a dismissal of the issues concerning Mr. Modi’s role in the horrific
massacres of 2002,” the letter stated. “It would legitimize Mr. Modi’s human rights violations and
seriously impact the nature of US-India relations by sending a message that the United States
values economic interests over and above the universal values of human rights and justice,” added
the MPs in their joint communique to Mr. Obama.
The letter gains added significance in the light of BJP President Mr. Rajnath Singh’s visit to
the US, with the intent of lobbying in Washington DC for Mr. Modi’s US visa. The party had long
maintained that Modi had not applied for a US visa and was not eager to have one.
"The fact that over 60 MPs from 15 political parties across 15 states chose to write a joint
letter to President Obama about Narendra Modi's US visa, is a stark reminder that Modi and the
divisive ideology he represents continue to be anathema to a cross section of Indians," said Raja
Swamy, spokesperson for the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG). "After having long denied any
desire on the part of Mr. Modi to acquire a US visa, Mr. Rajnath Singh's visit to the US, to lobby
lawmakers here for Modi's visa reeks of hypocrisy," added Mr. Swamy.
The letter draws the President’s attention to the fact that Mr. Modi had engaged in
systematic obstruction of justice and failed to even provide rehabilitation to the victims of the 2002
pogrom. The letter also called the conviction of Maya Kodnani, a sitting BJP MLA and then minister
in Mr. Modi’s cabinet, “a damning indictment of the Modi administration, and proof that the pogrom
was planned and executed at the highest levels of the state government. ”
The letter also refers to the ban as “consistent with US law and the shared values of the
United States and India,” and calls on Mr. Obama to “stand in solidarity with the survivors, human
rights activists and all those who value justice and freedom of religion.”
In a further sign of growing unease over Mr. Modi's ambitions to become prime minister,
Nobel Laureate and influential economist Amartya Sen pointed out recently that Mr. Modi's terrible
record against religious minorities makes him an unworthy candidate for India’s premiership .
The Coalition Against Genocide includes a diverse spectrum of organizations and individuals
in the United States and Canada that have come together in response to the Gujarat genocide to
demand accountability and justice.
- Mr. Raja Swamy
- Mr. Shaik Ubaid
- Coalition Against Genocide
Phone/Fax: (443) 927-9039
Text of Joint Letter by India’s Parliamentarians to President Barack Obama
Lok Sabha Letter: http://coalitionagainstgenocide.org/press/support/letter-ls-mps-obama.pdf
Rajya Sabha Letter: http://coalitionagainstgenocide.org/press/support/letter-rs-mps-obama.pdf
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