FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C., June 23, 2020
More than a thousand civil rights organizations, academicians and activists have written to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to designate India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), which is the US Government’s list of the world’s worst offenders of religious freedom, and impose sanctions on the perpetrators in India.
In an open letter submitted to the Department of State this week, they urged Secretary Pompeo to implement these recommendations that have been made by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a federal body that advises US Congress and President, in regards to India in its Annual Report 2020.
Implementing the recommendations “will send a clear message that the US believes religious freedom and peaceful coexistence of multiple faiths are the lynchpin of global stability.” Imposing “targeted sanctions” on Indian agencies and officials, including freezing of their assets and barring their entry into the US, would be “an effective measure against the State-backed assaults on religious minorities,” the letter said.
Increased violence against India’s religious minorities, which include 200 million Muslims and 30 million Christians, is a “grave threat not only to its secular and pluralist polity but also to regional stability in South Asia, with implications for global peace and security and India’s ability to be an effective strategic partner for the US,” it added.
“India’s failure to uphold its commitment to religious freedom negates its Constitution and the UN Declaration of Human Rights that India has signed,” the letter said. “It also contradicts the ideals of freedom and justice that the US and India share.”
The organizations signing the letter included Indian American Muslim Council, Hindus for Human Rights, International Christian Concern, Emgage Action, Genocide Watch, Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations, The Sikh Coalition, Council on American-Islamic Relations, The Boston Coalition, Coalition of Seattle Indian-Americans (CSIA), American Muslim Institution, and Aligarh Alumni Association DFW.
Representatives from Save the Persecuted Christians, Jubilee Campaign USA, Church of Scientology, Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience, Boat People SOS, American Humanist Association, Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Christian Freedom International, Institute on Religion and Democracy, The Interfaith Center of New York, Union of Council for Jews in the Former Soviet Union (UCSJ), New York Theological Seminary, Citizen Power Initiatives for China, Sikh National Center Inc., Law and Liberty International, Dallas Peace and Justice Center, Federation of Telugu Churches, among others, also signed the letter.
The USCIRF report, released in April, called out Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for “engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious religious freedom violations” by way of instituting “national level policies violating religious freedom across India, especially for Muslims,” engaging in “hate speech and incitement to violence,” and allowing the violence to “continue with impunity.”
The letter also urged Secretary Pompeo to ask India to “repeal” the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), which excludes Muslim migrants from expedited citizenship available to followers of other faiths.
“India’s real motive in bringing this law last December was to combine it with a proposed National Register for Citizens (NRC) that purports to identify illegals on the basis of documents such as birth certificates that millions of bona fide citizens do not possess,” the letter said.
The signatories also asked Mr. Pompeo to convey to India that its discriminatory treatment of Christians was “unacceptable.”
“Since Mr. Modi took power in 2014, attacks on Christians have increased as has their harassment and targeting through layers of persecution. Church services are disrupted regularly and Christians brutalized and arrested on false evidence. Local, regional and national administrations work with political leaderships to systematically target Christians,” the letter said.