THE WORLD IS WATCHING INDIA
HIGHLIGHTS OF 2021
In 2021, What Global Actors said and did about
THE STATE OF INDIA’S DEMOCRACY
“The development of a fascist-like infrastructure – in terms of passing discriminatory laws, neutralising judges and cultivating a BJP-controlled police force – is at an advanced stage in India.”Lee Rhiannon, Former Australian Senator
The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Report expresses concern over “deteriorating human rights situation in India”.
Freedom House downgrades India from “free” to “partly free”; notes “Modi and his party are tragically driving India itself towards authoritarianism.”
V-Dem report classifies India as an “electoral autocracy”.
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recommends that the US government designate India as a “Country of Particular Concern”; names the Indian government as a promoter of “Hindu nationalist policies.”
Diaspora condemns Modi’s invitation to G7 given “the abhorrent track record of Mr. Modi’s government in reducing the democratic, human rights, and rule of law standards in India”.
The “Dismantling Global Hindutva” conference, sponsored by 70+ centers and departments of 50+ American Universities, threatens Hindu Nationalists the world over; receives 4.7 million impressions on Twitter.
PM Modi’s visit to the US marked by protests outside the White House which gives a call to “Save India from fascism”. While Modi addresses the UN, protestors including multi-religious leaders, liken him to Netanyahu, Nero, Mussolini and Hitler.
Speaking up is not Anti-National, Silencing people is! This one slogan by 30+ organizations in 15 countries around the world condemns growing attacks on human rights in India on Human Rights Day.
THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND RESISTANCE
UN Special Rapporteurs on the Rights to Privacy; Freedom of Opinion and Expression; Peaceful Assembly and of Association express serious concerns about new IT Rules to regulate social media intermediaries, streaming and digital platforms.
International media ask whether 22 year old Disha Ravi being persecuted for editing a ‘tool kit’ to support the farmers’ protest calls into question India’s title of being a “democracy”.
100 + artists, diaspora groups, PEN America’s Artists at Risk Connection and Freemuse call for the dismissal of charges by Hindu Nationalists against stand-up comic Munawar Faruqui.
Politically motivated charges of Financial Irregularities against human rights defender, actor and media organizations condemned by Civicus and Human rights Watch.
THE FREEDOM OF PRESS
“India is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists” according to the media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF); ranks India 142 out of 180.
In Tripura journalists charged with “spreading communal disharmony” after they “attempted to cover violent attacks on Muslims by Hindu activists,” reports Voice of America.
Tripura police alleges 102 social media accounts violate the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 5 of which belong to journalists. “The police must stop harassing the journalists for doing their job and drop the terror investigations immediately”, demands the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“Mapping patterns of violence against journalists in India”, by Polis Project, a research and journalism organization, documents 256 attacks on journalists between May 2019 to August 2021. These include arrests of Siddique Kappan, in prison since October 2020, charged under UAPA for trying to report on the Hathras gang rape and murder case as well as Kashmiri journalist Aasif Sultan, also charged under UAPA and in jail for more than three years.
“These people should not be in jail. They are our modern-day heroes”, says Mary Lawlor, UN special rapporteur, Human rights defenders on those incarcerated in the Bhima-Koregaon case.
Global solidarity on Women’s Day for falsely charged Indian women activists.
UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention finds Safoora Zargar’s arrest and detention violates human rights.
Nobel Laureates, prominent academics and MPs from UK and EU appeal for release of human rights defenders as India faces Covid emergency.
Amnesty International protests across Europe demanding the release of the Bhima Koregaon political prisoners.
International human rights groups urge the UN to call on the Indian government to prioritise age and health conditions for prisoners whose trials are delayed.
17 media partners in 10 countries find that Pegasus is being used to spy on human rights defenders, academics, journalists and political figures. In India, it was used to hack journalists and others reports Washington Post.
International Council of Jurists notes that at least 27 human rights defenders in India, detained under UAPA, are being held in arduous conditions in custody with “several over 60 years of age…in over crowded prisons, denied health care and facing disrupted family communication”.
Arrest under UAPA of the human rights defender Khurram Parvez condemned by OMCT, World Organisation Against Torture, Mary Lawlor,UN Special Rapporteur, UN Special Rapporteur,Human Rights Defenders, Amnesty International and the United Nations.
Diaspora groups welcome the release of Sudha Bharadwaj after being incarcerated for more than three years without trial in the Bhima Koregaon case.
Forensic analysis by Amnesty International finds Pegasus spyware on Bhima Koregaon accused Rona Wilson’s phone, reports the Guardian and The Washington Post.
THE FARMERS MOVEMENT
During the struggle, solidarity for farmers comes from many around the world
Celebrities Rihanna, Greta Thunberg, Mia Khalifa, Lilly Singh, Meena Harris, Elizabeth Wathuti, Susan , Trevor Noah, Khaled Beydoun
Groups from Finland, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Germany, France, Scotland, Kuwait, New Zealand, Australia, US, Canada
Farmers in USA made a statement and shared the commonality of struggles including John Peck who said, “Our farmers have seen it. That’s why they’re so keen to warn their friends in India. Don’t let this happen.”
Individuals and groups in the diapora offer strong support.
The Kisan Morcha support group in Scotland join the 100,000 strong environment and climate change protest rally in Glasgow during COP26 to send powerful missives to Modi accompanied by Punjabi drumming to Scottish bagpipes.
After the farm laws were defeated, the world celebrates with the farmers
“As movements united in our global struggles for food sovereignty, we draw inspiration from this year long struggle led by India’s farmers that has demonstrated what resilience and unity of the working class can achieve even in the face of adversities.”
“Globalize the Struggle, Globalize Hope!” La Via Campesina and other global social movements including those related to indigenous peoples, women, housing, environment and religion.
“The largest strike action by workers in a generation. They inspired a global movement of solidarity.” Claudia Webbe, Member of UK Parliament
“To the many martyrs who have given their lives! The movement has lit the spark of hope.”South Asia Solidarity Group, UK
“The food crisis is global, and our resistance must be too.” Anti-poverty organization War on Want
VIOLENCE BY THE STATE AND OTHER HINDU NATIONALIST ACTORS
International media reports on numerous instances of violence
Assam police kills point blank a labourer, who along with other Muslim families, was going to lose his home during an eviction drive aimed at giving land to Hindus. Time Magazine
Four farmers die when a car belonging to the son of a BJP government minister runs into anti-farm law protesters in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh. Al Jazeera
In Belagavi district of Karnataka, a 25-year-old Muslim man is found beheaded for his affair with a Hindu girl, allegedly by a local Hindu vigilante group. The Washington Post
In Kabirdham district of Chhattisgarh several thousand armed right-wing Hindus, march through a Muslim neighbourhood, attacking people and vandalising cars and homes. Several similar attacks across Chhattisgarh ostensibly in response to forced conversions having a terrifying impact on the Christian community. The Guardian
The Vatican’s Diwali festival message to Hindus refers to “religious fundamentalism, terrorism, hyper-nationalism and xenophobia.” Catholic News Agency
In response to attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) in Tripura organizes rallies which witnesses say involved thousands of armed persons, targeting Muslim homes, businesses and places of worship. Police accused of enabling the rallies. The Guardian
Calling out Hate Speech
Martina Navratilova, in response to Sri Ram Sena leader’s call for violence against Muslims and demolition of mosque tweets: “Quite the democracy, eh? Trying to catch up to trump, I see. But then Modi and trump were pretty chummy…” As her “next joke” retweets a media report: “Union home minister Amit Shah said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was not a “dictator” but the most democratic leader the country has ever seen.”
Former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen, becomes a whistle-blower and discloses internal documents that show the role played by Facebook in fanning hate speech in India. The New York Times
A review of Facebook’s internal documents by Wall Street Journal shows how Hindu Nationalist groups with ties to the BJP post inflammatory, “dehumanizing”, anti-Muslim content, remain active on Facebook; how its algorithms breed discord, and its services are used to incite violence and target vulnerable people.
On International Human Rights Day, Indian Diaspora-led Rights Group @FoundationTLS projects Yati Narsinghanand’s speech on the walls of International Court of Justice, Hague. He can be heard saying that he wants to “exterminate Muslims” and “eradicate Islam”. The video has been viewed on Facebook 32 million times.