"I stand with both Hindus and Muslims in our fight for treating everyone with respect, dignity, and freedom of worship."
The questions about when to intervene and what degree of intervention should be used are some of the most challenging questions that we ask ourselves whenever an international incident erupts. How will we respond to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait? How do we respond to the internal conflict between Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda? How do we respond to the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina that resulted in the deaths of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims?
The answer for me is that we must challenge human rights abuses whenever and wherever they happen. We have an obligation to challenge subtle racism in our own hometown or workplace, we are responsible for challenging overt racism like a presidential directed “Muslim ban,” and, we have a responsibility to challenge global atrocities like the growing oppression of India’s minority population by its extreme right-wing government.
Prime Minister Modi has constructed and backed a citizenship law that offers citizenship to at least 6 different religions, but not to people of the Islamic faith. This follows on the heels of scraping Article 370 which provided special status to Kashmir, arresting thousands of Kashmiri leaders and putting Indian controlled Kashmir on Lockdown since August 5th.
In opposition to this agenda, common citizens largely students, took to the streets to protest the effort to reduce Muslims to second class citizenship status. In response, the police fired bullets at demonstrators and used heavy sticks to beat unarmed protestors. Tear gas was deployed inside university buildings, violating the Geneva Convention. According to a December AP news story at least 23 have died. Huffington post reports that the government is even muzzling funerals, we are watching closely as the violence appears to be escalating.
It is never Ok to remain silent when another human beings’ rights are being violated or a mass genocide is at hand. While historically there has been violence on both sides, it is peace and coexistence we must strive for. I stand with both Hindus and Muslims in our fight for treating everyone with respect, dignity, and freedom of worship.
It is very unfortunate that some members of congress, including some democrats are ignoring the human rights abuses in India. Congress should instead draft and support a resolution denouncing these abuses, suppression of the press, and suppression of those seeking to be heard in non-violent protest. This resolution could be forwarded to the United Nations. The speaker’s pen has proven to be powerful.
Congress should push President Trump to increase diplomatic engagement through the United Nations. Our government working in coordination with our allies can find diplomatic ways to leverage positive change in India. I believe that we need to use non-violent measures to pressure India’s right-wing government to adopt its original democratic secular governance model.
Finally, any member of the House of Representatives has the authority to travel to a foreign nation and further investigate human rights abuses. The United Nations has called for international probe into Kashmir rights violations.
I believe that when peaceful demonstrations are taking place and people are demanding a change in policy or demanding a greater voice in their government, that the United States should support those voices.