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Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.
Modi is scheduled to receive the Gates Foundation’s Global Goalkeeper award in New York City on September 24 for this “public sanitation and hygiene” programme, Swacch Bharat, which is claimed to have brought toilets to millions in India. The Nobel Peace laureates’ statement comes amidst increasing number of human rights groups and prominent citizens across the globe begun calling upon Bill and Melinda Gates to rescind the award.
A petition signed by one lakh persons, mainly from South Asia, has asked the Gates Foundation has said that award is “inconsistent to give a humanitarian award to a man whose nickname is the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’,” adding, The award could not have come at a more awkward time.”
Pointing out that “Genocide Watch has issued a genocide warning for the Indian held Kashmir and the Indian state of Assam”, the petition states, “In Kashmir, more than 800,000 Indian armed forces have kept eight million Kashmiris detained in their own homes without phones or internet service for the last month, canceled school for students and are blinding protesters with pellet guns.”
It adds, “In Assam, 1.9 million people, mostly Bengali speaking Muslims, have been stripped of their citizenship while Hindus are told not to worry about losing their citizenship.”
The Gates Foundation, on its part, has defended its decision to “honour” Modi "for the progress India is making in improving sanitation" as part of its drive in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, stating, "Before the Swachh Bharat mission, over 500 million people in India did not have access to safe sanitation, and now, the majority do."
Yet, opposition to the proposed award continues in US. “Democracy Now”, a non-profit news outfit, has quoted well-known Yale University epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves terming the award “outrageous,” insisting, “Bill Gates should be ashamed of himself. Narendra Modi is not worthy of any award. He is a despot-in-the-making, a human rights abuser. Everyone in public health should speak up.”
Broadcasting news across US and Canada, “Democracy Now” has recalled, “Modi was once banned from the United States on charges he did not intervene in a massacre against Muslims in 2002 when he was governor of the Indian state of Gujarat”, adding, “In August, Modi revoked limited autonomy for Indian-administered Kashmir, arresting thousands of people, setting up roadblocks, imposing curfews and cutting off the internet and other communications.”

Text of Nobel Peace laureates’ letter to Milinda and Bill Gates:

We have long been an admirer of the excellent work that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation does worldwide and the way you models philanthropy that effectively supports bettering lives in a sustainable manner.
Milinda and Bill Gates
We are also admirers of the late Mahatma Gandhi and the nation he sought to build – one of respect, tolerance, and equality. Indeed, Gandhi’s ethos is reflected in your organization, as the first message on your website is “All lives have equal value”.
Thus, we were deeply disturbed to discover that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be giving an award to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month. Under Prime Minister 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.
Consider, for example, the attacks on minorities, specifically Indian Muslims, Christians, and Dalits. Since the BJP, Prime Minister Modi’s party, came to power in 2014, the use of organized mobs to respond to alleged sectarian “offenses” with violence has undermined the rule of law so frequently that the Indian Supreme Court warned that these “horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be permitted to inundate the law of the land,” according to Human Rights Watch.
The situation in the state of Assam and Indian-administered Kashmir are cause for grave concern as well. The organization “Genocide Watch” has issued not one, but two alerts for India in these regions. In Assam, 1.9 million Indians have been stripped of citizenship; in Kashmir, since August, 800,000 Indian armed forces have kept eight million Kashmiris without phone or internet service for the last month.
Because of these 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.
Finally, scholars inside and outside of India have never cleared Prime Minister Modi of his involvement in the horrific 2002 massacre of Gujarat. As a result, 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. To be sure, his role in that crisis as the then Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat cannot be ignored.
In view of these facts – and the overall vision and goals of your Foundation – we respectfully ask that you rescinding your award to Prime Minister Modi. Doing so will send a clear and powerful message that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation takes its aim of equity, justice, and human rights for all seriously – and that it is committed to promoting these values in a consistent fashion.

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