|Letter to Chris Matthews (MSNBC)|
February 25, 2005
Mr. Chris Matthews
MSNBC, One MSNBC Plaza
Secaucus, NJ 07094
Dear Mr. Matthews,
We at the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), are writing to request that you cancel your
participation in the 2005 Asian American Hotel Owner's Association's (AAHOA) Annual
Convention and Trade Show, to be held at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County
Convention Center in Florida on March 24-26, 2005, unless the AAHOA disinvites its chief
guest, Mr. Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat in India. Mr. Modi is
directly implicated in the massacre of more than 2,000 people and is a member of a violent
and bigoted Hindu nationalist organization called the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS -
National Volunteers Corps) that was inspired by Nazi Germany and the Italian fascist party.
Addressing the AAHOA convention along with Mr. Modi will associate your name with a
figure and a political party that are the face of religious persecution against Christians and
Muslims in India, while giving them legitimacy. We at CAG respectfully ask you to
reconsider your decision to appear at the AAHOA convention alongside Mr. Modi.
CAG is a U.S.-based coalition of fourteen bodies including grassroots organizations, human
rights advocacy groups and community based NGOs. Our membership is broad based and
our members come from diverse religious, ethnic and political backgrounds. We are
determined to disallow any kind of legitimation of Mr. Modi in the United States and are
demanding justice for the victims of the Gujarat genocide.
In Gujarat, between February 28 and March 30, 2002, under Narendra Modi³ıs leadership,
more than 2,000 people, mostly minority Muslims, were killed, aided and abetted by the
state. The systematically executed pogrom, also left more than 200,000 people homeless
and internally displaced. Today, three years after the event, the victims of the violence still
await justice and reparations. Mr. Modi, not only failed to take preventative measures
against those who were planning the violence with his knowledge, but undertook a series of
actions which either tacitly or explicitly condoned the genocidal violence, which included
torture of children and mass rapes of women.
Numerous inquiries and commissions, such as the Indian National Human Rights
Commission (NHRC), have condemned the role of the Government of Gujarat headed by Mr.
Modi in providing leadership and material support in the politically motivated attacks on
minorities in Gujarat in 2002. The European Union, and every major Indian and
international human rights organization: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch,
Commonwealth Initiative for Human Rights, Citizen's Initiative, People's Union for Civil
Liberties (PUCL), People's Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), have condemned the
Gujarat violence, and pointed to the complicity of the Government of Gujarat in the
execution of the event.
In the US, the State department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor released
a report on International Religious Freedom in 2002, pointing to the culpability of the
Government of Gujarat in the violence, its violations of human rights and religious
freedoms, and the targeting of other minority groups, such as Christians, following the
event. Coverage in the Indian and international press, including in the New York Times (July
27, 2002), Washington Post (June 03, 2002), Boston Globe (July 07, 2002), reported the
failure of the state machinery in Gujarat. There has been non-partisan support in the United
States for human rights in Gujarat. Former President Clinton condemned the events in
Gujarat, and Congressman Pitts (R-PA) addressed the United States House of
Representatives on June 18, 2002, condemning the premeditated brutality in Gujarat and
acknowledging insufficient action on the part of the United States. Mr. Joseph R. Pitts also
conveyed that Hindu extremist groups receive some of their funds from charities in the
United States and the United Kingdom. Research undertaken by two independent groups,
Campaign To Stop Funding Hate and Awaaz, South Asia Watch Limited, have demonstrated
as well that Hindu nationalist organizations supporting Mr. Modi in Gujarat are linked to
corresponding organizations in the United States, that undertake fund raising to sustain the
work of Hindu fundamentalism in India.
Three years later, the Government of Gujarat continues to harass and discriminate against
its Christian and Muslim minority populations, tribal peoples and other marginalized groups,
as well as progressive activists and intellectuals, with new policies and prejudiced
application of existing laws. Under Mr. Modi's leadership, more than 2,000 of 4,000 cases
filed by the victims of the violence were never investigated or dismissed, leading the
Supreme Court of India to rebuke both the Gujarat judiciary and the Government of Gujarat
for its handling of the cases, and transferring several cases out of the state for trial. There
are currently two suits filed against Mr. Modi for crimes against humanity and genocide. For
these reasons, Mr. Modi is in violation of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998,
and other international laws, and should not be honored, legitimized or otherwise felicitated
by any institution or individual of public standing.
The Coalition Against Genocide first wrote to AAHOA asking that they disinvite their chief
guest. AAHOA, however, has issued a public statement affirming their invitation to Mr. Modi.
In light of these facts, we strongly urge you to cancel your participation at the AAHOA
convention. The invitation to Mr. Modi is part of an effort by his supporters in the US to
rehabilitate his image. We understand that your office may have been entirely unaware of
the invitation to Mr. Modi when you were approached by AAHOA. We sincerely hope that
you will not be an unwitting party to their plans. At a time when the international
community has questioned the commitment of the United States to human rights, it is
imperative that government and government affiliated institutions, businesses and the
media, and residents and citizens of the United States act affirmatively to demonstrate
support for human rights advocacy.
Enclosed, please find a brief appendix that documents some of the relevant information
pertaining to Mr. Modi and his political party's involvement with violence against Christians
and Muslims in India. Thank you for your consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact us
if you would like further information.
Mr. George Abraham, Non Resident Indians for a Secular and Harmonious India
Prof. Angana Chatterji, Anthropology, California Institute of Integral Studies
Ms. Sapna Gupta, South Asian Progressive Action Collective
Dr. Ashwini Rao, Campaign to Stop Funding Hate
Dr. Shaik Ubaid, Indian Muslim Council