THE GUJARAT GENOCIDE:
A barbaric and planned tragedy?
Wednesday 18th May 2005
5.30pm to 7.30pm
House of Lords,
Parliament, London SW1
INVITED SPEAKERS INCLUDE
Invited MPs and Peers: Lord Adam Patel, John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn, Lord Eric Avebury; Baroness Helena Kennedy.
Anand Grover (Lawyers Collective representing the Dawood Family in India); Bilal Dawood (Family Campaigner); Purna Sen (Amnesty International); Imran Khan (Civil Rights Lawyer); Chetan Bhatt (Reader, Goldsmith College, University of London); and Indian Muslim Federation. Chair: Suresh Grover (Dawood Family Campaign and Director of Awaaz and The Monitoring Group)
Three years ago, in March 2002, Gujarat witnessed horrific incidents of unparalleled violence that can only be described as genocide of innocent Muslim people. Over 2000 people, including British Asians, were slaughtered with more than 200,000 people displaced in under-resourced refugee camps. Houses were systematically looted, businesses burnt down, hundreds women gang raped and many children murdered. All the evidence suggests that the Gujarat State Government, led by the current Chief Minister Narendra Modi, aided by police orchestrated the violence and carnage. Yet still, despite domestic and international public pressure, not a single prominent individual has been held to account or brought to justice.
In March this year the horror of the Gujarat tragedy became internationally recognised. Firstly, on 18th March 2005 the US government revoked the visa earlier granted to Narendra Modi for his role “in severe violation of religious freedom”. Modi was invited by the Asian American Hotel Owner’s Association (AAHOA) as chief guest for their annual convention in Florida on March 24-26. This revocation of both diplomatic and business visas had come about as a result of untiring effort of the US-based Coalition against Genocide (CAG) which comprises of 38 organisations and 10 supporting groups alongside individual members from Canada and the USA. The American decision is unprecedented and cannot be undervalued for its international consequences. Modi is the first Indian politician to be treated in such a manner.
Secondly, in a desperate attempt to regain Modi’s alleged international credibility, his supporters in this country concocted a UK Yatra for him. According to the organisers of the Gujarat Cultural Festival at the Royal Albert Hall, Modi’s supporters “put unbearable pressure to invite Modi as a guest speaker” and attempted to hijack the event so that it could be turned into a Sangh Parivar rally. The strategy of the Hindu fundamentalists in the UK is to obtain mainstream recognition by getting a foothold in British Parliament. They are desperate to both invent and front a saffronised Hindu identity that is seen to be different from the rest of the Asian community. The real reasons for the cancellation of the Modi visit include: the reality of Modi confronting popular and large protests against him, including the prospect of facing arrest and the refusal by both the Indian and British Governments to officially recognise his visit. In the end, regardless of the embarrassing consequences, Modi and his supporters opted for a safer option. They blamed the cancellation on a fictitious “security threat” when their real aim was to avoid international spotlight and opposition.
AWAAZ is proud of all the organisations and individuals who campaigned to Stop Modi. We had urged all progressive & human rights organisations to mount peaceful demonstrations at places where Modi was scheduled to speak or visit. We made forceful representations to the British Government not to allow him into the United Kingdom and organised strong phone and email campaigns aimed at those agencies or individuals financing or hosting his alleged meetings.
In reality we have only won a small but important battle. The victims of the Gujarat Genocide are unlikely to ever see justice unless we are able to increase international pressure and momentum on this issue. Consequently the meeting will also aim to initiate a parliamentary focus on Gujarat.
For further information – www.dawoodcampaign.org
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