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Commentary :: International
US shouldn’t teach us human rights-Modiji (MUST MUST READ)
19 Mar 2005
US shouldn’t teach us human rights-Modiji (MUST MUST READ)
US shouldn’t teach us human rights-Modiji (MUST MUST READ)

US shouldn’t teach us human rights

By Narendra Modi ( Chief Minister of Indian State of Gujarat)

The US government refused to issue a visa to me for a visit to the United States. It has gone to the extent of cancelling a visa that was issued to me in 1998. The reason given was that those responsible for infringement of religious freedom couldn’t be granted a visa. This decision of the US is against all principles of democracy and human rights, as well as principles of natural justice.

The question is whether this decision applies to only one individual. On what basis has this decision been taken? What has been verified and in what manner? No clarification was sought from the concerned governments or me. No plausible reasons or explanations have been provided for the refusal of the visa. This decision insults the Constitution of India. It infringes on India’s sovereignty. Under prevailing diplomatic norms, no nation can impose its own rules on movement of nationals of other countries.

If some US official visits India, would the government of India pay back in the same coin? Should India refuse visa to the US Chief of Army Staff because of alleged violation of human rights by the US soldiers in Iraq? Isn’t the US administration aware of the facts that minorities have been persecuted in Kashmir by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists? Were these laws applied to Pakistan’s head of state and chief of Army? On the contrary, they were warmly welcomed by the US authorities. In Bangladesh too minorities have been persecuted. Have these rules been applied to Bangladesh officials? This unilateral decision of the US is a serious insult to India’s self-respect and sovereignty.

The government of India has requested the US administration to issue a visa to me. But is that enough? Does the government of India have the political will to confront the US in a forthright manner and demand an explanation? Or is India going to allow the US to treat it as a banana republic?

One year ago, I had received an invitation from the American Asian Motel Owners Association to attend their conference. California State University too had invited me to attend the programme. Last year, I was unable to go because of some pressing engagements. This year I had decided to go and also take a business delegation with me. Two months ago, on January 19, 2005, a letter was written to the government of India for the clearance of this trip. On February 4, 2005, the government of India cleared the trip. On March 2, 2005, the Prime Minister cleared the trip. On March 3, 2005, my passport was submitted to the US embassy for the granting of a diplomatic visa. At the last moment, the visa was denied and an existing visa held by me since 1998 was cancelled, without providing any plausible explanation.

They said that the US administration is very efficient. I stated in a press conference held at 2 pm on March 18, 2005, that I had been holding a visa since 1998. It has been three years since the trouble in Gujarat. Why has the US not cancelled my 1998 visa during these three years? This shows that the audacious step has been taken specifically for deriding and insulting India. I have appealed to the Prime Minister and the government of India to view this issue in a non-political and non-partisan manner and take it up in right earnest with the US authorities, for protecting the Constitution and the sovereignty of India. The US administration should not be allowed to take such arbitrary decisions.

If the rights of any citizen of India are infringed upon by unlawful and unjustified actions of a foreign government, it is the responsibility of the government of India to protect the rights of its citizens. It does not matter whether the affected citizen is a chief minister of a large State like Gujarat or an ordinary one. It is the duty of the government of India to protect all legitimate and democratic rights of its citizens.

After Godhra, there was an attack on the Akshardham temple also. So many were killed. Yet, Gujarat remained peaceful. In spite of Gujarat having demonstrated extreme restraint in the face of such blatant provocation, the US is trying to twist facts. I would be writing a letter to the Prime Minister in this context. I will discuss future strategies with his colleagues, which would be the strategy of the Gujarat government, as well as the five-crore Gujaratis. But is the government of India considering some sort of a strategy to protect and safeguard the rights of its citizens, besides meekly “requesting” the US to issue a visa?

The US administration needs to be told in plain terms that the rights of an Indian citizen are the problem of the government of India. There is no question of the US interfering in India’s internal affairs. The US administration needs to be informed plainly that India is not its backyard and it cannot dictate its terms to India.

India has a population of more than one billion, compared to the US population of less than 300 million. India’s police force is not as well equipped as the US law enforcement authorities. And yet, India’s crime rate has been far lower than that of the US. What kind of human rights is the US administration talking about? Human rights of African-Americans are violated day in and day out in the US. Given next are some interesting statistics about crime incidents in Gujarat, India and the US.

Washington, DC sees about 2,000 murders a year which is more than the number of murders that take place in the whole of Gujarat. The population of Washington, DC is less than six million, whereas Gujarat has a population of more than 50 million. Fifteen US cities have more than 100 incidents of murder every year. Big cities like New York (eight million), Los Angeles (four million) and Chicago (three million) have over 500 murders a year compared to about 1,100 murders in the whole of Gujarat. New York alone witnesses more than 1,500 rapes a year. In Gujarat, about 200 rapes take place every year. So, the US first needs to look at the plight of its own citizens, who constantly live in the shadow of fear, rather than teaching India humanity and human rights.

I have travelled throughout the world in the past. I was invited by the US administration itself as a young political leader way back in 1992. In 1997-98, the US government had invited some 20 diplomats under another programme in which I was also invited, in spite of the fact that I was a political leader and not a diplomat. I was the only non-diplomat to have been invited in this month-long programme. In 1999, the UN had invited me to attend a World Religion Conference.

After the Godhra incident, I have been to the UK, Switzerland, Australia and Singapore. In UK, some five-star activists had raised similar issues before my visit to London last year. But the British government took no note of such protests. On the contrary, it provided adequate security arrangements and ensured that there was no untoward incident because of protests by the unruly activists who have made a business out of human rights. Are these countries (UK, Switzerland, Australia and Singapore) not concerned about human rights and religious minorities? Is the US the sole guardian of religious minorities all over the world?

A fairly large number of hate crimes did take place in the US after 9/11. Some of them have been sorted out and the rest have not been. Should President Bush be held responsible for those crimes? In the US, hate crimes have risen steadily from 2001 onwards, post 9/11. Should India stop issuing visas to visiting US officials? These are the questions that every Indian needs to ask.

At stake is the prestige and honour of India. If the government of India takes this issue lightly, Indians can only receive shabby treatment from the US administration. All Indians should rise and express in a united way their indignation at the huge insult meted out to the largest and the greatest democracy of the world.

(This is based on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s conversation with The Asian Age and his Press statement)

This work is in the public domain


no thanks
20 Mar 2005
This guy Modi is complicit in a pogrom against muslims resulting in thousands of deaths.

Should right wing racists from India come to the U.S.?
I say no thanks, we 've got enough racists here already.