Activists and Nobel Peace Prize winners protest Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s decision on award

Interfaith Letter To The Gates Foundation on Modi’s Award

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Gates:

As diverse Americans, we very much appreciate that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation helps fund numerous important grassroots programs each year. Nevertheless, we are deeply disturbed to discover that the Foundation will be giving an award to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month. Whatever his positive contributions may be, Prime Minister Modi promotes a form of Hindu nationalism that systematically disenfranchises minority communities in India.

Moreover, given Modi’s dramatic restriction of human rights in Kashmir, especially since August 5, 2019, celebrating his leadership at this time sends an insult not only to Kashmiris and Indian minorities, but to Muslims everywhere. Choosing this moment to honor such a controversial figure seems to us unnecessarily provocative.

Under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, India has descended into dangerous and divisive politics that have consistently undermined both human rights and democracy. Mobs are organized to respond to alleged sectarian “offenses” and the Indian Supreme Court has warned that these “horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be permitted to inundate the law of the land,” according to Human Rights Watch.

In Assam, 1.9 million Indians have been stripped of citizenship; in Kashmir, since August, 800,000 Indian soldiers have kept eight million Kashmiris without freedom of movement, phone or internet service for the last month. Because of these and ongoing human rights abuses, children in Kashmir from kindergarten to college are unable to attend school. As one of your organization’s goals is to “ensure that young people survive and thrive,” please consider this statistic: in 2016 (the year the most recent data has been available), schools in Kashmir were open for only four months out of the year.

Human rights organizations, including Justice for All/Kashmir Action, are issuing genocide alerts for Assam and Kashmir. At the same time, experts inside and outside India have never cleared Prime Minister Modi for his role in the horrific 2002 sectarian massacres in Gujarat. As a result of his role, Modi was banned from entering the United States, the UK, and Canada for 10 years until he acquired diplomatic immunity by becoming India’s Prime Minister. This fact alone should have prevented your Foundation from honoring this man.

We ask that you rescind this honor to a problematic head of state and instead choose other Indians who are doing noble work on the grassroots level. This is clearly the wrong time for the Foundation to send a signal that not all lives matter equally.

Thank you for your time and attention.
Justice For All
Hindus for Human Rights
Kashmir Global Council
Win Without War
Union Theological Seminary
South Asia Solidarity Initiative
Stand with Kashmir
MPower Change
International Center for Rights and Justice
Indian American Muslim Council
Muslim American Society
Islamic Circle of North America
Muslim Council of Britain
Bethany Congregational UCC
World Council of Muslims for Interfaith Relations
Interfaith Center of New York, NY
Luther Seminary, MN
Catholic Theological Union, IL
Emgage Action
Labor Religion Alliance
Harford County Education Society, MD
One Sky International, Washington DC
Center of Egyptian American Dialogue, VA
Islamic Center of Maryland, MD
The Shalom Center, PA
Interfaith Institute of Islamic Center of Long Island, NY
Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, IL
MAS Maryland, MD
Greater New York Labor Religion Coalition, NY
Baltimore County Muslim Council, MD
Masjid al Hedaya, GA
Islamic Center of Naperville, IL
Flushing Interfaith Council, NY
World Human Right Development USA
Judson Memorial Church, NY
Pax Christi Metro, NY
American Muslims For Democracy
Muslim Community Center, Chicago, IL
Muslim Social Services of Kitchener, Waterloo
Avicenna Community Health Center, IL
RadioTahrir, WBAI Radio, NY
Islamic Council of New England. MA
Pakistani Students Association, IL
Interfaith Committee Lake Hills, St Louise, MI
Greenbelt Climate Action Network, MD
Islamic Society of Baltimore, MD
Celeste Holmes
Keith Emrich
Shahul Hameed
Carla Power, Author
Reverend Fr. Jim Hoffman
Chaplain Shareda Hosein

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As Narendra Modi Heads to U.S., Controversy Follows Him

By Ayesha Venkataraman and 

MUMBAI, India — As Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India prepares for a big trip to the United States, human rights groups and three Nobel Peace Prize winners have criticized the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its plan to bestow a prestigious award upon Mr. Modi next week during his visit.

The Nobel laureates sent a letter to the Gates Foundation stating that under Mr. Modi’s leadership, “India has descended into dangerous and deadly chaos that has consistently undermined human rights, democracy.’’

“This is particularly troubling to us as the stated mission of your foundation is to preserve life and fight inequity,” said the letter signed by Mairead Maguire, a peace activist from Northern Ireland; Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman, a Yemeni journalist and politician; and Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer and political activist.




Gates Foundation’s Humanitarian Award To India’s Modi Is Sparking Outrage

Activists are calling for the Foundation to rescind the award because of Modi’s human rights record.

The protesters say that Modi’s government has created a humanitarian crisis in Kashmir, which has been under lockdown for six weeks. And Modi has long been criticized by human rights defenders for inciting violence against minorities, silencing dissent and undermining human rights.

On Tuesday, a dozen demonstrators with Stop Genocide, a project of the American human rights group Justice For All, marched to the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle. They delivered a petition with more than 100,000 signatures, many from people of South Asian descent. In addition, three Nobel Peace Prize winners — Shirin Ebadi, Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman and Mairead Maguire — co-signed a protest letter addressed to Bill and Melinda Gates last week.



The Gates Foundation shouldn’t give an award to Narendra Modi

September 6, 2019 at 12:47 p.m. PDT

Suchitra Vijayan is a lawyer and executive director of the Polis Project. Arjun Singh Sethi is a human rights lawyer, adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center and editor of “American Hate: Survivors Speak Out.”

On Monday, an Indian minister announced that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is planning to give Prime Minister Narendra Modi an award this month for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Mission), a sanitation and toilet access initiative across India.

While public health is undoubtedly a priority in India and around the world, such an honor would come as his Hindu nationalist party has incited violence against minorities, silenced dissent and curtailed freedom of expression. In light of Modi’s record, including promoting repressive policies in the past month in Kashmir and the northeastern state of Assam, he should not be given the award.