VARGINIA: Dr Gregory Stanton the founder of Genocide Watch, warned of an impending genocide of Muslims in India, comparing the situation of the country under the Narendra Modi government to events in Myanmar and Rwanda.
Formed in 1999, Genocide Watch is a global organisation dedicated to the prevention of genocide. Dr Stanton is a former research professor in genocide studies and prevention at the George Mason University in Fairfax County, Virginia, United States.
Dr Stanton made these remarks during a congressional briefing titled 'Call For Genocide of Indian Muslims', organised by the Indian American Muslim Council. He was part of a five-member panel invited to speak at the session.
In his video address, Dr Stanton began with highlighting that Genocide Watch had been warning of a genocide in India since 2002, "when riots and massacres in Gujarat occurred that killed over a thousand Muslims".
"At that time, the chief minister of Gujarat was Narendra Modi, and he did nothing. In fact, there is a lot of evidence that he actually encouraged those massacres," he said, adding that Modi, now the prime minister of India, had used "anti-Muslim, Islamophobic rhetoric" to build his political base.
Dr Stanton said the two ways Modi went about this was by revoking the special autonomous status of Indian- occupied Kashmir in 2019 and passing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act the same year.
He explained that the revocation of the of occupied Kashmir's special autonomy was "largely aimed at restoring Hindu domination" in the valley, which had Muslim majority. Moreover, he added, the enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act was especially "aimed at Muslims".
"It gave [a] specific favourable status to refugees who had come from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who were of certain religious groups. But the one group that was excluded was Muslims," he said. "This act was specifically ... aimed at the Muslims who had fled Bangladesh during the Bangladesh genocide and civil war in 1971 and had settled in Assam," he continued.
Dr Stanton said there were around three million such people, mostly Muslims, who had fled to India and "has settled down" as "regular citizens of India".
But the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, he said, required people to prove through documentation that they had been the citizens of India before 1971 as part of a census that was to be overseen by the Indian supreme court.
"Now a lot of people don't have that kind of documentation, of course," he pointed out, adding that "the idea [behind the Act] is to essentially declare them (people who had fled to India from Bangladesh in 1971) foreigners, and therefore, to allow their deportation."
He said this was "exactly was the Myanmar government did to the Rohingya Muslims" in 2017. The Myanmar government, he said, first declared Rohingya non-citizens through a legislation and and then expelled them through violence and genocide.
In this regard, he also highlighted that the UN Genocide Convention — an international treaty that criminalises genocide — not just "covers genocides in whole. It also covers genocides in part".
"It is specifically aimed at the destruction, in whole or in part, of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, and that is exactly what the Myanmar government did in Myanmar against Rohingya," he said. "What we are now facing is a very similar kind of a plot, if you will," he added, referring to India.
Dr Stanton said the Indian government's aim was to extend the census under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act across the country and the "victims will be 200 milion Muslims in India".
He further said that the "idea of India as a Hindu nation, which is the Hindutva movement, is contrary to the history of India and the Indian constitution".
The Indian constitution, he said, was devised "to make India a secular country", and that the secularity it promised was secured in the first years of India's existence under the Congress party.
"What we have now though, an actual member of the RSS ( Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) — this extremist, Hindutva-oriented group — Mr Modi as [the] prime minister of India. So what we have here is an extremist who has taken over the government," he continued.
Dr Stanton then went on to explain that genocide was not an event but a process, and that there were early "signs and processes" of genocide in the Indian state of Assam and occupied Kashmir.
He referred to a conclave held by Hindutva leader Yati Narsinghanand from December 17 to 19 in Uttarakhand's pilgrimage city of Haridwar, where multiple calls to kill minorities and attack their religious spaces were made, saying that the event was aimed at inciting genocide.
He said there were laws in India that could be enforced against such practices, "but Mr Modi has not spoken out against that violence".
He also likened the circumstances in India to the events in Rwanda, where a genocide had taken place in 1994.
Dr Stanton said he had predicted the genocide in Rwanda, keeping in view the situation in the country at the time.
He said he had warned the then-Rwandan president that "if you don't do something to prevent genocide in your country, there is going to be a genocide here within five years. That was in 1989. The genocide developed, the hate-speech developed, all the early warning signs developed. And as we know, 800,000 Tutsis and other Rwandans were murdered in 1994".
Dr Stanton said Modi, as the prime minister of India, had a moral obligation to denounce this kind of hatred and hate-speech, that specifically calls for the killing of Muslims.
He said the language used against Muslim in the Haridwar meeting, which was also used by the Indian government, was actually "polarisation", which led to genocide.
"So we are warning that genocide could very well happening in India."