Monday, December 4, 2023

‘Act before situation in India devolves into a full state of genocide against Muslims,’ Bhim Army chief writes to UN

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Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad wrote an Open Letter to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights requesting a UN-mandated international Commission of Inquiry or a similar international mechanism to investigate serious human rights violations in India, particularly the on-going anti-Muslim pogrom in the national capital of India.

“It would be best for the international community to act before the situation in India devolves into a full state of genocide against Muslims, as it has in the neighboring countries of Myanmar and China,” he said in the letter.

Read the full letter here:

I am writing this as a matter of urgency requesting your immediate attention and possible intervention into the grave situation of human rights violations in India right now. Even as I write this, there is a well-planned anti-Muslim pogrom being executed in the Indian national capital of Delhi.

This is all coming at the heels of the implementation of the controversial and Islamophobic citizenship policies aimed at ultimately disenfranchising Indian Muslims. After the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was signed into law on 12th December 2019, the sociopolitical situation in the country has been seeing new heights of state-sponsored atrocities everyday unlike anything seen before. The Act sought to provide Indian citizenship on the basis of religion to the people of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian faith (who entered the country on or before December 31, 2014) from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan.

This bill coupled with another state policy – the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) – is the problem. NRC, asks all Indian citizens to prove their citizenship. However, there are several catches. For example, the normally acceptable identification documents – including one’s passport or Aadhaar (state-issued identification) card – have been declared insufficient to prove one’s Indian citizenship. For more on this issue, see here.

There are no doubts as to the actual genocidal intentions of this current government’s citizenship policy-making. In fact, the Home Minister Amit Shah, himself has publicly revealed his intentions on his twitter page when he asserted that “We will ensure implementation of NRC in the entire country. We will remove every single infiltrator from the country, except Buddha, Hindus, and Sikhs”. He later deleted the tweet after controversies surfaced. Despite our criticisms, he continues to refer to Muslims as ‘infiltrators’ and ‘termites’. Evidence for this dangerous rhetoric is abundantly available on his own Twitter and Youtube pages.

Protests, led largely by Indian Muslim women, have been ongoing throughout the country for over 70 days. Bhim Army members have acted in solidarity with the Muslim community as well as in recognition that all minorities will become affected by such citizenship policies wielded by an ethnonationalist state administration. Our members have also courted arrest and custodial torture in the process.

Now, the situation is worsening. Hindu ethnonationalist extremists are rising up and currently carrying out large scale, planned pogroms in Muslim neighbourhoods in the northeastern part of the national capital. As I write, a total of 45 people are confirmed dead even as the toll is rising every hour. Men are being mob-lynched and stabbed to death and women and girls are being raped. Muslim houses and Muslim-owned businesses are being burnt down with people inside them. Even Muslim cemeteries are being set on fire. Qurans and mosques – after being vandalized and desecrated – are demolished and burnt down. Minarets of mosques are being replaced with saffron flags, saffron symbolizing the Hindu ethnonationalist right wing’s colours. Essentially, entire Muslim residential areas, local economies, infrastructure, and Muslim places of worship and culture have been incinerated. Thousands have been displaced and are fleeing their hometown.

The State administration’s response to all this has been a failure. Evidence in the form of videos and photographs is now overwhelmingly showing Delhi police aiding and abetting the program and sometimes even taking an active part in the violence. Delhi Police under the Home Minister Amit Shah is now letting violence go unchecked in Delhi by being mute spectators.

The trajectory of events that unfolded in the country post the introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Bill is extremely alarming and only suggest a genocidal project that first demotes Muslims, then Dalits, Adivasis, religious minorities, and other backward classes to second class citizenship. We are fearful that there are plans in progress to confine a large mass of people to concentration camps that are already being built.

We thank the UN Secretary-General António Guterres who has already stated that he is closely observing the situation and asked that security forces show restraint to allow demonstrators to protest peacefully.

On behalf of the most marginalised in India, I further appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Council to

  • Take close note of the situation as its unfolding, especially with respect to the likely loss of citizenship for millions in India
  • Set up a commission to monitor the state-mediated violence against Muslims, Dalits, Adivasis, and other Indian minorities
  • Hold perpetrators of mass violence and all those complicit – ground actors, police, politicians and others accountable – to international standards of human rights.

It would be best for the international community to act before the situation in India devolves into a full state of genocide against Muslims, as it has in the neighbouring countries of Myanmar and China.

I am a responsible citizen and I respect my country. In fact, I am making an appeal to the international community because things are so dire and I am afraid that my country might go through a painful disintegration.

Please note that this letter will be made public as we consider this to be a matter of public interest, especially at this moment in time.

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