Washington, D.C : During a Congressional Briefing held on June 15, Former Congressman Andy Levin joined human rights experts and activists in urging the Biden administration to hold Prime Minister Narendra Modi accountable for his attacks on democracy and his party’s role in instigating violence against religious minorities.
Levin noted that President Biden’s invitation to host Modi for a state dinner and address a joint session of Congress during his official visit to the U.S. on June 22 is a “huge honor” and “not a matter of course.”
“The United States should not give rewards [to Modi] that may not be appropriate, given the depths of these concerns,” he said. “To my many wonderful former colleagues [in Congress], this state visit – this address to a joint session of Congress – is an opportunity for you to find your voice and find concrete ways to speak up and demonstrate the importance of democracy in India.”
Nadine Maenza, Former Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), stated that Modi should work to address rising anti-minority violence by, “condemning calls for genocide, arresting and charging those who are committing violence against religious communities, ending impunity for that violence… and working with the U.S. government on a roadmap to eliminate religiously discriminatory laws and policies.”
Daniel Bastard, Asia-Pacific Director of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), stated that President Biden should call upon Modi to address the dissemination of hate speech through social media, as well as his regime’s unlawful arrests of Indian journalists.
“There are eleven journalists who are currently in jail in India for no credible reason,” he said. “So I would ask President Biden to ask Prime Minister Modi, what about these journalists? Why are they in jail? When are you planning to release them?”
“It is for our friends all over the world to make sure that the government of India knows that what it is doing, what it has gone about doing in the last few years, is wrong,” said Aakar Patel, Chair of the Board of Amnesty International in India.
“The United States must ask itself, can it trust India as a regional and global security partner when India is committed to becoming a racist, casteist, and majoritarian nationalist state?” said Dr. Angana Chatterji, Founding Co-chair of the Political Conflict, Gender, and People’s Rights Initiative at the University of California, Berkeley.
“The United States is actively, knowingly, deliberately empowering Modi to become a dictator and authoritarian, totalitarian figure,” said Ajit Sahi, Advocacy Director at Indian American Muslim Council. “Now, only US civil society can start putting pressure… [on] the Biden administration for its absolutely egregious and unacceptable involvement in abetting Modi’s dictatorial tendencies.”