Experts at virtual US Congressional briefing urge US to implement USCIRF recommendations
Washington, May 23 : Expressing concern over the “increased violence against religious minorities” in India, a panel of experts at a virtual Congressional briefing has urged the US government to implement the recommendations of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
The USCIRF, in a non-binding report last month, recommended the State Department to designate India as a “country of particular concern,” along with 13 other nations — Myanmar, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Nigeria, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam.
Taking a strong objection to the USIRF report, India rejected its criticism, terming its observations on the condition of the minorities and religious freedom in the country as “biased and tendentious”.
“We reject the observations on India in the USCIRF annual report. Its biased and tendentious comments against India are not new. But on this occasion, its misrepresentation has reached new levels,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
“It has not been able to carry its own commissioners in its endeavour. We regard it as an organisation of particular concern and will treat it accordingly,” he said.
On Thursday, Indian-American Muslim Council (IAMC) organised the Congressional briefing titled “USCIRF Recommendations on India – The Next Steps,” which was addressed by a panel of invited experts.
In her keynote address, Nadine Maenza, vice-chair of the USCIRF, noted with alarm “the social and economic boycott of Muslims in some parts of the country as well as discrimination against Muslims in the context of medical treatment during the global pandemic”, the IAMC said in a statement on Friday.
Dr Harrison Akins, South Asia policy analyst with the USCIRF, alleged that the ruling BJP is using “the symbols of Hinduism and policies aimed at their protection as weapons against the minority communities in their quest to further marginalise the religious minorities and shape a Hindu nation.”
Francisco Bencosme, Asia Pacific Advocacy Manager of Amnesty International USA, expressed concern over activists imprisoned for peaceful dissent, mentioning Safoora Zargar, a pregnant student arrested in connection with an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in New Delhi.
“While the world faces a global pandemic, India has decided that now is the time to attack religious freedom,” he alleged.
The event was organised in association with the International Christian Concern and Hindus for Human Rights.