52 rights groups urge Gates Foundation to rescind award for Modi

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WASHINGTON – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest US Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, announced that 52 civil and human rights, refugee and religious organizations sent a letter to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation urging the charity to not award its premier Global Goalkeeper Award to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at its Goalkeepers event next week, citing human rights violations.

The letter opposes awarding Modi given his government’s well-documented human rights abuses targeting minority Muslim, Dalit and Christian communities, as well as its recent and illegal revocation of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, stripping the state of Jammu and Kashmir of its protected status and laying siege to its eight million residents.

Signatories to the letter recognize the positive impact India’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan sanitation campaign has had in eliminating open defecation in that county but believe that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation cannot in good conscience bestow an award on Modi while he oversees a brutal military campaign of collective punishment in the Kashmir Valley – while concurrently stripping 1.9 million Bengali-speaking Muslims of their citizenship in the Indian state of Assam and constructing prison camps to detain these now stateless people.

The letter also mentions that since Modi was elected as Prime Minister in 2014, there has been a 400 percent increase in hate crime violence against Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and Dalits, and that leaders of his political party, Bharatiya Janata Party, have been credibly accused of emboldening “communal violence” and failing to forcefully condemn or put a stop to it.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.