Human rights organisation Amnesty International on Monday said “anti-Muslim sentiment permeates” the policies of both United States and Indian leaders and alleged that the values that the two governments now share are bigotry and hostility. A joint statement was released by Amnesty International USA and Amnesty International India ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to India.
Trump, along with First Lady Melania Trump, arrived in Ahmedabad for a two-day trip aimed to reset ties, which have been strained by trade rows, between the world’s biggest democracies.
“Anti-Muslim sentiment permeates the policies of both US and Indian leaders,” Margaret Huang, Amnesty International USA’s executive director, said in the statement. “For decades, the US-India relationship was anchored by claims of shared values of human rights and human dignity. Now, those shared values are discrimination, bigotry, and hostility towards refugees and asylum seekers.”
Huang was referring to the Citizenship Amendment Act approved by Parliament on December 11 and Trump’s travel ban that targets prospective immigrants from countries that have Muslim-majority populations.
“The internet and political lockdown in Kashmir has lasted for months and the enactment of CAA and the crackdown on protests has shown a leadership that is lacking empathy and a willingness to engage,” said Avinash Kumar, the executive director of Amnesty International India. “We call on President Trump and Prime Minister Modi to work with the international community and address our concerns in their bilateral conversations.”
The organisation also referred to National Register of Citizens and National Population Register, saying it could particularly push Muslims “towards the limbo of detention and statelessness”. The National Population Register is the first step towards creating an all-India National Register of Citizens. As critics have noted, the NRC, in tandem with the Citizenship Amendment Act, could be used to render many Indian Muslims stateless since the citizenship law excludes Muslims.
Amnesty also criticised the police action to protests against the Citizenship Act and detention of political leaders in Jammu and Kashmir under the Public Safety Act. “With rampant and unchecked internet shutdowns during the protests, India has also become the country with the highest number of shutdowns,” the statement added. “Furthermore, statements such as ‘identify them [the protestors] by their clothes’ or ‘shoot the traitors’ by Prime Minister Modi and his party workers peddled the narrative of fear and division that has fuelled further violence.”
The human rights organisation also raised the matter of the internet curbs in Jammu and Kashmir, which have continued for more than six months after the Centre abrogated the special status of the former state under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.