|Letter to Madison Square Gardens|
March 11, 2005
Director, Special Events
Madison Square Garden
4 Pennsylvania Plaza
New York, NY 10001
CC: Mary Ellen Kelly
Madison Square Garden
Dear Ms Ebery Banks,
We at the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), are writing to request that you cancel your
decision to grant a forum to Mr. Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the State of Gujarat in
India through the public meeting organized by the Association of Indian Americans of North
America at Madison Square Gardens on March 20, 2005. Mr. Modi is directly implicated in
the 2002 massacre in Gujarat, India, of more than 2,000 persons and is a member of a
violent and chauvinistic Hindu nationalist organization called the Rashtriya Swatamsevak
Sangh (RSS – National Volunteers Corps). The RSS is a shadowy all-male organization
drawing inspiration from Hitler and Mussolini that trains milita-like groups of men and
indoctrinates them into ideologies of racial/religious cleansing. Mr Modi has a record of
delivering hate speech that incites and legitimizes violence against minorities and moderate
Hindus and Madison Square Garden may be providing a forum for such speech (please see
excerpts attached). Mr Modi currently faces two civil suits for crimes against humanity in
India, and is in violation of international laws and conventions including Convention on the
Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the International Religious
Freedom Act of 1998.
By offering Mr Modi a platform you will offer a forum for him to legitimize the anti-women
ideology of the RSS as well. The RSS ideology of racial cleansing includes moral sanction for
the rape, impregnation, and murder of non-Hindu women, and the prevention of the
biological reproduction of those it defines as "Other", which we witnessed in horrific detail in
the 72-hour pogrom in Gujarat. Amnesty International has clearly held the state of Gujarat,
headed by Mr Modi, responsible for gender crimes in its report, Justice, the victim - Gujarat
state fails to protect women from violence
. Your organizations' name will be
associated with a figure and a political party that are the face of religious persecution
against marginalized communities, including Christians and Muslims, and who in cold-blood
target the women of minority communities through sexual and murderous violence. You will
unwittingly end up legitimizing an individual who is directly responsible for upholding and
carrying out a plan of extermination of minority groups. We at CAG respectfully ask you to
reconsider your hosting of this event.
CAG is a U.S.-based coalition of fourteen bodies including grassroots organizations, human
rights advocacy groups and community based NGOs. Our members come from diverse
religious, ethnic and political backgrounds. We are bound together by our desire to see that
justice is ensured to the victims of the Gujarat massacres, and by our desire to ensure that
this is never repeated again. To this end, we are determined to stop Mr. Modi from gaining
legitimization in the United States from corporate sponsors and hosts who may be unaware
of the politics and practice he represents.
Mr Chris Mathews, host of MSNBC’s show, Hardball, has already withdrawn his planned
appearance along with Mr Modi, at an event in Fort Lauterdale, Florida, on March 24, 2005.
We expect corporate sponsors, as they become aware of Modi' identity, to refrain from
attaching their name to his.
In Gujarat, between February 28 and March 30, 2002, under Narendra Modi’s leadership,
more than 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed, and women subjected to gang-rape,
murder, and abortion of pregnancies. These mass killings and violence against women were
aided and abetted by the various arms of the state headed by Mr Modi. The systematically
executed pogrom also left more than 200,000 people homeless; even now, many fear to
return to their localities. Today, three years after the event, the victims of the violence still
await justice and reparations. Mr. Modi, not only failed to take preventive measures against
those who were planning the violence with his knowledge, but undertook a series of actions
which either tacitly or explicitly condoned it.
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 for the attacks on minorities in Gujarat in
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 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.
In light of these facts, we strongly urge you to cancel your decision to host the March 20
meeting. The invitation to Mr. Modi is part of an effort by his supporters in the US, under
the guise of Association of Indian Americans of North America, to rehabilitate his image. 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. In lieu of the facts, we urge that Madison
Square Garden demonstrate its social responsibility by withdrawing the space it has given to
the Association of Indian Americans of North America unless they withdraw their invitation
to Mr. Modi.
Enclosed, please find a brief appendix that documents some of the relevant information
pertaining to Mr. Modi, especially his hate speech record. 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
Dr. 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
Dr. Usha Zacharias, Communication, Westfield State College, Massachusetts, and the
Campaign to Stop Funding Hate.