Hold Chief Minister Narendra Modi accountable for human rights violations
In 2002, over a thousand Gujarati Muslims were killed when Modi failed to prevent targeted attacks against them. To this day he uses divisive Hindu nationalist rhetoric to maintain power in Gujarat and would now like to become India’s next Prime Minister. The continuation of Modi's leadership in any capacity whatsoever endangers India's future as a secular and pluralist nation.
We, concerned citizens from India, the United States, and around the world are outraged at the massive effort by Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, to erase from public memory the 2002 genocide that occurred in this state. This purposeful whitewash coincides with Modi’s efforts to become India’s next Prime Minister after the 2014 general elections. We object to the ongoing injustices perpetrated against the victims of this violence and demand that Modi’s culpability in these events be brought to light.
In 2002 Modi was responsible for the performance of state institutions and did nothing to prevent a series of attacks on Gujarati Muslims. Many reports indicate that Modi even condoned violence towards them and directed police and local officials not to protect them. The Indian National Human Rights Commission Report concluded that “There is no doubt, in the opinion of this Commission, that there was a comprehensive failure on the part of the State Government to control the persistent violation of the rights to life, liberty, equality and dignity of the people of the State.” The most conservative estimates are that over a thousand people, mostly Muslims, were murdered, raped, displaced, or dispossessed.
Since then, the Supreme Court of India has repeatedly faulted the Gujarat government for failing to prosecute those guilty of the crimes in 2002. Instead, Modi’s government has targeted whistle-blowers and activists who have tried to bring the guilty to justice. In February 2012, the Supreme Court of India again criticized the Gujarat government for using trumped-up charges to harass activists fighting for justice. We remain firmly opposed to Modi’s destructive brand of Hindu nationalist politics that has repeatedly violated the secular ideals enshrined in India’s Constitution. Modi’s callous disregard for the wellbeing of Indian minorities and refusal to address the horrific violence that occurred in 2002 should disqualify him from the ongoing stewardship of Gujarat let alone candidacy for Prime Minister.
We reject ongoing efforts by Modi and his allies to bury a history of human rights violations under a narrative of economic development. We find it astonishing that any individual or organization would endorse ideas about economic development that are rooted in the systematic oppression of minority populations, whether in India or elsewhere. As educators, doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs, we support conscientious and efficacious modes of economic organization, and unequivocally reject inhuman policies of politicians who not only lack a commitment to human rights and to ideals of social justice, but whose political success is based on the suppression of substantial sections of their own citizens.
We need an India where Modi is brought to justice for the numerous crimes that occurred on his watch rather than one where he is considered for the highest office in the land. This statement is a pledge to educate our communities about Modi’s troubling record and also to work for a secular and egalitarian future.