Saturday Sep 14, 2019
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has once again come under fire, this time from three Nobel Peace Laureates over the foundation’s decision to honour Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mairead Maguire (Nobel Peace Laureate, 1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (Nobel Peace Laureate, 2011) and Shirin Ebadi (Nobel Peace Laureate, 2003) have called on the Gates Foundation to rescind Modi’s award.
Gates Foundation is due to give Modi Global Gatekeeper award for his sanitation and toilet access project across India.
“We were deeply disturbed to discover that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be giving an award to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month. Under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, India has descended into dangerous and deadly chaos that has consistently undermined human rights, democracy. This is particularly troubling to us as the stated mission of your foundation is to preserve life and fight inequity,” the letter reads.
Citing an example on the attacks on minorities, specifically Indian Muslims, Christians and Dalits, the laureates said, “Since the BJP, Prime Minister Modi’s party, came to power in 2014, the use of organised mobs to respond to alleged sectarian “offenses” with violence has undermined the rule of law so frequently that the Indian Supreme Court warned that these “horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be permitted to inundate the law of the land,” according to Human Rights Watch.”
The letter added the situation in the state of Assam and Indian occupied Kashmir are cause for grave concern as well.
“The organisation “Genocide Watch” has issued not one, but two alerts for India in these regions. In Assam, 1.9 million Indians have been stripped of citizenship; in Kashmir, since August, 800,000 Indian armed forces have kept eight million Kashmiris without phone or internet service for the last month.”
The letter noted that because of these human rights abuses, children in Kashmir from kindergarten to college are unable to attend school.
“As one of your organisation’s goals is to “ensure that young people survive and thrive,” please consider this statistic: In 2016 (the year the most recent data has been available), schools in Kashmir were open for only four months out of the year,” it said.
Bringing light to the 2002 Gujrat massacre, the statements said, scholars inside and outside of India have never cleared Modi of his involvement in the horrific massacre.
Modi was banned from entering the United States, the UK, and Canada for 10 years until he acquired diplomatic immunity by becoming India’s Prime Minister. To be sure, his role in that crisis as the then Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat cannot be ignored, it added.
“In view of these facts — and the overall vision and goals of your Foundation — we respectfully ask that you rescinding your award to Prime Minister Modi. Doing so will send a clear and powerful message that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation takes its aim of equity, justice, and human rights for all seriously — and that it is committed to promoting these values in a consistent fashion,” it added.