|(Houston, TX, 9/20/19)– |
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Houston Chapter, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, announced today local organizations (see list of signatories below) sent a letter to government elected officials listed below. The letter addressed to officials featured below requested that they do not participate in the Community Summit hosted by Texas India Forum (TIF) for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, September 22nd at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas at 10 am.
U.S Senator John Cornyn
Senator Ted Cruz
Governor Greg Abbot
Mayor Sylvester Turner
Congressman Al Green
Congresswoman Sheila Lee Jackson
Congressman Pete Olson
Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia
SEE: Group Request to Decline Invitation to Community Summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Citing Human Rights Abuses
The letter opposes officials participation in event with Modi given his government’s well-documented human rights abuses targeting minority Muslim, Dalit, Sikh and Christian communities, as well as its recent and illegal revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, stripping the state of Jammu and Kashmir of its protected status and laying siege to its eight million residents.
The letter also mentions that since Modi was elected as Prime Minister in 2014, there has been a 400 percent increase in hate crime violence against Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Dalits, and that leaders of his political party, Bharatiya Janata Party, have been credibly accused of emboldening “communal violence” and failing to forcefully condemn or put a stop to it.
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
CAIR-Houston Development and Outreach Coordinator,Ambreen Hernandez,
Executive Director Lubabah Abdullah, Esq.
TEXT OF LETTER:
September 19, 2019
RE: Request to Decline Invitation to Community Summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Citing Human Rights Abuses
Dear [NAME OF ELECTED OFFICIAL]:
We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, write to request that you decline the invitation to the Community Summit hosted by Texas India Forum (TIF) for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, September 22nd at the NRG Stadium. We furthermore express our serious concern that you would accept this invitation to participate in this event given his government’s well-documented human rights abuses targeting minority Muslim, Dalit, Sikh, and Christian communities, as well as its recent and illegal revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, stripping the state of Jammu and Kashmir of its protected status and laying siege to its eight million residents.
While it is praiseworthy for you to work to build ties with leaders around the world, you cannot in good conscience welcome Prime Minister Modi while he oversees a brutal military campaign of collective punishment in the Kashmir Valley that includes: Revocation of the region’s protected status; A near-constant curfew leading to an urgent humanitarian crisis of severe shortage of food and life-saving medications; The forced unwarranted detention of some 4,000 elected Kashmiri political leaders, business leaders, civil society members and rights activists in secret jails by Indian forces, including, mass arrest and beatings of children, and widespread torture of detainees; Gross human rights abuses of Kashmiri residents by Indian security forces in the Kashmir Valley; Stopping the publication of all local news and preventing international journalists from entering the Kashmir Valley; and, continued communication and internet blackout of Kashmir.
In August, the Indian government illegally revoked Article 370 of the constitution, taking away the protected status of the Indian-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir. The legal maneuvering that led to the revocation of Article 370 has been widely panned by legal experts as unconstitutional, and a complaint has already been filed in the Indian Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the revocation. The Indian government’s mobilization of more than 50,000 additional military personnel to the existing 700,000 stationed troops in the region has also made it the most militarized region of the world.
Since revoking Article 370, India’s military has maintained a continued communications and internet blackout of Kashmir, forcibly detained some 4,000 elected Kashmiri political leaders, business leaders, civil society members and rights activists in secret jails, and levied a near-constant curfew on the region’s 8 million residents. There are widespread reports of torture of detainees. Indian security forces have also arrested children and kept their whereabouts secret from their parents.
The siege has led to an urgent and grave humanitarian crisis in which residents are facing a serious shortage of food and other life essentials. The Kashmir Valley has now run out of life-saving medications. The Wall Street Journal has characterized the situation as “India’s Kashmir Clampdown Turns Hospitals Into Graveyards.”
The Modi-led Indian government continues to shut down all local media and is not allowing any international journalists to enter the Kashmir Valley. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the news from the Kashmir Valley is smuggled out on flash drives that are then published in international media. The United Nations’ Human Rights Council has called the blackouts a “form of collective punishment” lacking “even a pretext of a precipitating offense.”
You should also be seriously concerned that under Modi’s leadership, the Indian state of Assam has stripped 1.9 million Bengali-speaking Muslims of their citizenship and is constructing prison camps to detain these now stateless people. The Indian government has now expelled all international journalists from the State of Assam. Prime Minister Modi’s plan to open similar detention centers across India is causing widespread fear and panic in the Indian Muslim community. Modi’s government has tried to pass a new citizenship bill in the Indian Parliament that would create a pathway to citizenship for migrants from neighboring countries that are Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, or practice other religions — but leaves out Muslims. While that discriminatory bill passed the lower house it has thankfully stalled in the upper house of parliament.
Leaders of Modi’s political party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have been credibly accused of emboldening “communal violence” and failing to forcefully condemn or put a stop to recent mobs of violent Hindu nationalists lynching, murdering and brutally beating minorities, especially Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and members of lower castes within India’s society. Since Mr. Modi was elected as Prime Minister in 2014, there has been a 400% increase in hate crime violence against Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Dalits. Reports in the media indicate that victims of such communal violence are beaten and murdered while mobs shout or force their victims to repeat the phrase: “Jai Shri Ram,” which means “Praise Lord Ram,” one of the gods in the Hindu pantheon.
Moreover, the 2019 University of California at Berkeley study titled “Islamophobia in India: Stoking Bigotry,” found that the 10 Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Telangana and Assam collectively accounted for 1,972 cases of politically-motivated violence, and implicated BJP leaders of stoking “communal violence” and hate.
Prior to becoming prime minister of India, in 2005 the U.S. Department of State banned Modi from entering the United States. Modi was denied a visa because as then-head of the state government in Gujarat between February 2002 and May 2002, he comprehensively failed to stop Hindu nationalist riots that resulted in the killing of more than 1,000 Muslims, including the reported gang-rape and murder of 250 women, and destruction of countless homes and businesses. Modi and his government’s silence during the rioting earning him the shameful title “Butcher of Gujrat.”
Again, we the undersigned request that you and your colleagues, decline the invitation to the Community Summit as he will use this welcome to deflect criticism of his government’s egregious human rights violations in Kashmir, Assam, and throughout all of India.
Additionally, we request that you meet with representatives of our organizations, as well as of the members of the local Kashmiri American community, to address our concerns.
CAIR-Houston Board of Directors and Staff
Supporting Individuals and Local Organizations
John T. Floyd-John T. Floyd Law Firm
Manpreet Singh-Houston Sikh Representative
Ashton P. Woods-Black Lives Matter Houston &Candidate for Houston City Council At – Large 5
Rev. Troy Treash
Rev. Vickey Gibbs, Associate Pastor-Resurrection MCC
Sohail Syed-President, Islamic Society of Greater Houston
Daniel Hernandez-Imam, ISGH Pearland Islamic Center
Imam Wazir Ali-Masjid WD Mohammed
Rizwan Ali-Texas Dawah Convention