West News Wire: The government of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has once again been recommended for listing on a “blacklist” for its treatment of religious minorities, according to an independent commission in the United States. The commission noted that during 2022, the situation for religious minorities “continued to worsen” in India.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) requested that the US Department of State once more identify India as a “country of particular concern” in its annual report released on Monday.
Since 2020, the independent panel has filed appeals for the designation. The designation invites economic penalties and charges a government with “systematic, ongoing [and] egregious violations” of religious freedom.
The body said that the Indian government “at the national, state and local levels promoted and enforced religiously discriminatory policies” in 2022. Those included “laws targeting religious conversion, interfaith relationships, the wearing of hijabs and cow slaughter, which negatively impact Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits and Adivasis (indigenous peoples and scheduled tribes)”.
The report noted that about 14 percent of India’s population of 1.4 billion is Muslim, about 2 percent is Christian, and 1.7 percent is Sikh. Nearly 80 percent of the country is Hindu.
The panel further asserts that the Indian government, led by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), “continued to suppress critical voices particularly religious minorities and those advocating on their behalf”.
The US panel cannot make policy; it can only make suggestions. Since Washington and New Delhi have been working to bolster their relations in an effort to fend off China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region, there was little expectation that the State Department would adopt the commission’s position.
The religious freedom watchdog stated in its report that, after making the proposal in prior years, the administration of President Joe Biden “failed to designate India” as a “country of particular concern.”
“The United States and India kept up their close bilateral ties in the areas of technology and trade. The United States became India’s greatest trading partner in 2022 when trade hit $120 billion, according to the research.
“President Biden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted on multiple occasions, including the G20 and G7 Summits and the Quad Leaders Summit,” it added, the latter referring to the informal grouping of the US, India, Japan and Australia.
The Indian government did not immediately respond to the latest report. Following last year’s recommendation, New Delhi’s foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi accused senior US officials of making “ill-informed” and “biased” comments.
India promotes religious freedom and human rights since it is a naturally pluralistic country, according to a statement made at the time by Bagchi.
The latest USCIRF report “reaffirms what [the rights group] has been saying for years: that India’s government, under Prime Minister [Narendra Modi], has continued to systematically violate the religious freedom of minority communities, particularly Muslims and Christians,” the Indian American Muslim Council said.
The panel first made the recommendation for Afghanistan last year, following the Taliban’s takeover of the country in August 2021. Afghanistan has long been on the commission’s watch list, and the Taliban itself had been designated of “particular concern” in some of the panel’s earliest reports, from 2000 and 2001.
The commission said the group “violates the freedom of religion or belief of religious minorities; women; members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) community; and Afghans with differing interpretations of Islam”.
The article concentrated on multiple blasphemy convictions in Nigeria in 2022 as well as mob violence associated with blasphemy claims. Although Nigeria was briefly designated under the administration of former President Donald Trump, it was noted that the Biden administration disregarded a similar recommendation made the previous year.
According to the report, authorities in Vietnam “intensified their control and persecution of religious groups,” including Montagnard and Hmong Protestants, Cao Dai adherents, Hoa Hao Buddhists, Unified Buddhists, and other non-registered religious organisations.
Meanwhile gun violence in United States seems to be like everlasting issue as US government has closed eyes by not taking steps to control it. Students at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law will investigate the U.S. government’s reactions to gun violence in depth to determine if they are in compliance with American commitments under international human rights law.
Leila Sadat, director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute and James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law, has started a new effort, which includes the study project.
According to Sadat, gun violence in the US has epidemic proportions. “The United States is a glaring anomaly because more than 30,000 people are killed by weapons there each year and numbers are growing. Alarmingly frequently, mass shootings occur in theatres, concerts, and schools, like the one that occurred this week in Florida. However, domestic initiatives to shield Americans from gun violence have been nearly impossible to achieve for a variety of legal and political reasons.”
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has encouraged the U.S. to redress gun violence through effective gun control policies, Sadat said.