Friday, November 13, 2015

Red carpet welcome to Modi not the most glorious event in British diplomacy, says Human Rights Watch

Teesta Setalvad
By Our Representative
Alongside Amnesty International, yet another top global human rights organization has sharply criticized the British government's welcome to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on a three-day visit to London. In a scathing critique of the Britain's red carpet welcome of Modi, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said that latest developments suggest it has “not been the most glorious of times for human rights in British diplomacy”.
In a sharply-worded comment, HRW’s Meemakshi Ganguly said, “First, there were complaints over the effusive welcomes given to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in London.” Now, human rights groups are protesting the visit of Modi with huge “Modi not welcome” image “projected upon the Palace of Westminster.”
“After years of shunning him for his failure to end communal attacks on Muslims in 2002, when he was chief minister of Gujarat state, the United Kingdom restored direct engagement with Modi in 2012, when he emerged as the leading prime ministerial candidate. Modi’s BJP decisively won the 2014 general elections”, Ganguly, who is HRW’s South Asia director, said.
“Modi has embarked upon an ambitious effort to draw in foreign investment to bolster his promise of development. Unlike China or Egypt, India – as a long-standing democracy with a fiercely independent judiciary, assertive media, and noisy civil society – is a particularly attractive partner”, she pointed out.
Ganguly
“Yet, the Modi government has stumbled in its goal of achieving economic growth by diminishing precisely these positive values. Freedom of expression and association are facing increasing curbs at home”, the senior HRW official said, pointing towards how well-known Modi critic Teesta Setalvad, a senior human rights activist fighting for 2002 riot victims, is "under threat of arrest on trumped-up charges.”
In another instance, the HRW activist said, “Greenpeace India activist Priya Pillai was stopped from traveling to meet with British parliamentarians, an obstruction later reversed by the judiciary.”
“Writers, artists, academics, film makers, and scientists are protesting the growing religious intolerance and silencing of dissent. Modi’s supporters, including his party leaders and members of cabinet, have openly expressed contempt for religious minorities and Dalits, contributing to the BJP’s recent defeat in Bihar state elections”, Ganguly said.
Criticizing Modi’s defenders, who argue that, as prime minister of a federal government, he cannot be held responsible for these failures, because law and order is the responsibility of state governments, Ganguly said, “That does not absolve him from failing to vociferously condemn hate campaigns by vigilante groups that support his party.”
“Even many economists and business leaders are worried. India’s central bank governor called for tolerance, saying intellectual freedom was critical to growth. Moody’s Analytics warned that Modi risked losing domestic and global credibility”, she underlined.
Insisting that when British Prime Minister David Cameron and Modi talk about trade and investments at Downing Street, “they should also bring up uncomfortable topics”, Ganguly said, “Modi should raise concerns over UK government plans to expand mass surveillance powers that would undermine privacy.”
As for Cameron, she said, he “should raise concerns over the Indian government’s crackdown on dissent, the BJP’s tacit support for hate campaigns, and the failure to work toward protecting the rights of the marginalized.”

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