Sunday, March 20, 2005
Modi Visa not India's Pride! Stop RSS Mission to Regain Lost Political Ground!
The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate Calls for Popular Resistance to the Funding of Violent, Sectarian Hindutva
India Must Probe Moneys Flowing into India Under the Guise of Charity, says CSFH
NEW YORK and SAN FRANCISCO: The Campaign to Stop Funding Hate (CSFH), part of the network of 38 organizations that came together as the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG) to carry on a sustained, month-long resistance to Narendra Modi's visit to the U.S., calls on all Americans, especially those tracing their ancestry to India, to respond to the new awareness against funding the politics of hate and ethnic/communal violence. CSFH denounces attempts by politicians in India to characterize the revocation of Mr. Modi's visa by the U.S. as a blow to India's national pride. Instead, CSFH considers the action of the U.S. State Department in declaring Mr. Modi inadmissible to the U.S. as a show of support for groups working for social justice in India, as well as for those in the United States who were appalled by the anti-minority carnage engineered by the forces of Hindutva ("Hindutva" is a fascism-inspired worldview advocated by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a violent, sectarian organization dedicated to overthrowing the secular, democratic state and establishing a Hindu theocracy in India) in Gujarat in early 2002, and have since organized and campaigned against Hindutva's fund-raising networks and political alliances in the United States.
The cancellation of Mr. Modi's visit is a serious blow to the attempts by the Sangh Parivar (the Sangh Parivar, usually just called the "Sangh," is the family of Hindutva organizations spawned and controlled by the RSS in India, and has a widespread network of supporters and front organizations operating in the United States and United Kingdom. The BJP, Mr. Modi's political party, is the parliamentary front of the Sangh Parivar) to regain the political, ideological and monetary support it lost in the U.S. after engineering the anti-minority pogroms in Gujarat in early 2002. Mr. Modi, as a leader of the Sangh Parivar and the Chief Minister of Gujarat then and now, provided active support to the Sangh Parivar mobs, and has since used the machinery of the state not only to obstruct attempts to rehabilitate the victims and to bring the perpetrators to justice, but also to continually harass and threaten the Christian and Muslim minorities in Gujarat. Hence, the recognition by the Bush administration of Mr. Modi's culpability for his crimes against humanity is heartening to those who love India.
CSFH calls on the Indian government to not lag behind human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, who have all pointed to the funds raised by the Sangh Parivar from the Indian diaspora as a major source of funding for the criminal activities of Mr. Modi and his Sangh Parivar brethren, and to begin its own inquiry into their fund-raising pipelines from the U.S. to India. Extensive documentation on the Sangh's fund-raising activities in the U.S. has been made available by CSFH on its website
In the last few weeks, CSFH has coordinated and organized multiple forms of resistance against the corporate sponsors of Mr. Modi. In the wake of the U.S. state department's dual-action of denying a diplomatic visa to Mr. Modi and simultaneously revoking the tourist & business visa originally granted to him in 1998, CSFH calls for a larger movement to weed out Hindutva and to expose its infiltration of educational institutions, ethno-social groups, religious organizations and corporations in America. "The Sangh may have been politically marginalized for the moment in the U.S. and in India, but its capacity for hatred is unbounded and we cannot slacken our efforts to challenge, expose and terminate their funding flows," said CSFH spokesperson Girish Agrawal, and added that "This is a unique moment to hold the Sangh responsible for its devious methods of garnering ideological support and raising funds in the U.S."
CSFH notes that in revoking Narendra Modi's permission to visit the U.S., the state department cited a section of U.S. laws that are gathered together as "Criminal Grounds of Inadmissibility" under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This should be a powerful warning, of their own potential culpability, to all organizations and individuals who invited Mr. Modi and were planning on sponsoring events or hosting him or providing him a venue to speak. This list includes not only the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA), whose members collectively represent a plurality of hotel properties in the U.S., the primary movers behind Mr. Modi's planned visit, but also American Express, which is a sponsor of the AAHOA forum where Mr. Modi was to speak. CSFH is appalled to see that a respected university in California had also planned on honoring Narendra Modi, by having him inaugurate, of all things, a centre for India studies. This act by the California State University, Long Beach, is akin to inviting a Nazi to inaugurate a Jewish studies center.
Mr. Modi's now cancelled visit to the U.S. was planned by the Sangh Parivar as part of its strategy to rehabilitate Hindutva in the U.S. following its rejection by the electorate in India, and to oil its funding pipelines from the Indian diaspora in the United States. To tests the waters, the RSS had earlier sent out its spokesman Ram Madhav on a tour of the U.S. CSFH had mounted a campaign of protests against that visit, resulting in a serious ideological setback for the Sangh in the U.S. Mr. Madhav spent his time in the U.S. trying to paint a rosy picture of the Sangh and touting its strong connections on Capitol Hill, but in the wake of the revocation of Mr. Modi's visa, both he and Mr. Modi seem to have forgotten all their professions of friendship towards the U.S. Reacting to the revocation of Mr. Modi's visa, Mr. Madhav questioned the right of the United States to talk about human rights violations: "Who is the US to talk about human rights violations? What is happening in Iraq? What is happening in Afghanistan?" Mr. Modi and Mr. Madhav have spent the last two days giving incendiary anti-American speeches, resulting in Sangh Parivar mobs attacking American businesses and consular offices in Gujarat.
Where basic moral and ethical considerations did not move them, the leadership of AAHOA has now withdrawn its invitation to Mr. Modi, frightened by the potential fall-out of the Sangh Parivar's violent display of anti-Americanism, including burning the American flag and burning President Bush in effigy, on their members' businesses, most of whom operate small hotel properties, and on the immigration prospects of their family members in Gujarat. CSFH urges the AAHOA membership to ask its leadership to either publicly renounce their financial and ideological support of the Sangh Parivar, or failing that, to step down and let the organization return to its function of representing the business interests of its membership. CSFH also asks that the AAHOA find a way to apologize for having dishonored the memory of the victims of the 2002 pogroms by inviting one of the chief architects of the massacre to be its guest of honor.
CSFH considers the determination by the state department that Mr. Modi is inadmissible to the U.S. on grounds of criminality as a clear victory for supporters of human rights and justice in the U.S. and in India. It sends a clear message that perpetrators of religious and political persecution can be held accountable for their actions through dedicated work and through international alliances for social justice. Indian and U.S. groups share a long, common tradition of battling for human rights, and securing justice for the oppressed that CSFH and its partners in the Coalition Against Genocide will continue to build on.