“Architects of genocide have no right to cross the borders of the United States,” say Sikhs
(SACRAMENTO, August 10, 2013) Sikhs in Northern California launched a campaign on Friday seeking assistance from local congressional representatives in obtaining a U.S. visa denial for Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, arguing that “architects of genocide have no right to cross the borders of the United States.”
The campaign began with delivery of a 9-page letter to the only Indian-American in U.S. Congress, Representative Ami Bera (D – Elk Grove), who recently expressed interest in expanding California’s economic relationship with Gujarat. The letter details concerns about Modi’s human rights record, including his recent eviction of Gujarati Sikh farmers from their landholdings, and states: “We also urge you to make prosecution for genocide a priority above and beyond discussion of economic partnership…. Partnering with terrorists like Narendra Modi is contrary to the principles on which the United States of America was founded.”
“Sikh farmers dwelling in Kutch, Gujarat are the most recent targets of state-sponsored communal violence by the Modi administration,” said Bhajan Singh Bhinder, director of Sikh Information Centre, the group coordinating the campaign to deny Modi a visa. “To make way for centrally-planned Special Investment Regions, as they are called, Modi is kicking Sikhs off soil over which they have toiled for 50 years. Five thousand Sikh families are being robbed of their homesteads because the Modi government thinks it can create a better economy than these small business-owners. Nothing is crueler than evicting these farmers from land transformed into fertile soil by their sweat and blood.”
The campaign, beginning with Bera, will also approach Doris Matsui (D – Sacramento), Jeff Denham (R – Modesto), Tom McClintock (R – Roseville), Jerry McNerney (D – Stockton), and Mike Honda (D – San Jose), among others. Bhinder emphasized the campaign will also urge all other minority advocacy and human rights groups to initiate similar campaigns in their spheres of influence.
The letter to congressional representatives articulates three requests: 1) “We urge you to work for denial of a visitor’s visa for Narendra Modi and seek a permanent ban on his entry into this great nation”; 2) “We ask you to take the first step to combatting violent extremism in India by seeking removal and punishment of violent extremists like Modi who are currently sitting in the nation’s highest political offices”; 3) “We request you use all the good graces of your office to seek restoration to Gujarat’s dispossessed farmers of the land stolen from them by the government.”
Narendra Modi, who hopes to become India’s next Prime Minister, has recently indicated interest in traveling the U.S. to drum up support for his bid. He was denied entry to the U.S. in 2005 due to his orchestration of the Gujarat Genocide, an anti-Muslim pogrom occurring just four months after he first took office. An estimated 2,000 Muslims were massacred by rampaging Hindu mobs armed with addresses of Muslim-owned homes and businesses. Police joined in the violence. Post-mortem reports indicate police employed execution-style killing techniques of a shot to the chest and a shot to the head against scores of innocent Muslims. Several witnesses were told by police: “We have no orders to save you.”
Harvard professor and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen last month warned that Modi “generates concern and fear among minorities,” saying he would like “a more secular person” to be Prime Minister. Such fears were elevated in 2010 by Sanjiv Bhatt, a former police officer turned whistleblower. Bhatt testifies he was present at a February 27, 2002 meeting at Modi’s home, hours before the riots began, at which time Modi ordered police to cooperate with the rioters.
An investigation by Human Rights Watch in 2002 arrived at similar conclusion. HRW’s senior South Asia researcher Smita Narula said: “What happened in Gujarat was not a spontaneous uprising, it was a carefully orchestrated attack against Muslims. The attacks were planned in advance and organized with extensive participation of the police and state government officials.”
“Ami Bera has long-standing support from the Sikh-American community,” said Bhinder. “We welcome him to continue in the tradition of other South Asian congressmen like Dalip Singh Saund, the son of Stockton who was the first Sikh to serve in the hallowed halls of this great nation’s capitol. Sikhs played a crucial role in Bera’s election and we are counting on him to lead the way in defending human life and liberty above all else.”