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AOC and Squad boycotting Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s ‘shameful’ address to Congress

Progressives said Modi’s human rights record was reason for boycott

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Thursday 22 June 2023 10:39 BST
India's Modi inaugurates new parliament amid opposition boycott

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is joining her fellow progressives in the “Squad” and planning to boycott Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday.

“I encourage my colleagues who stand for pluralism, tolerance, and freedom of the press to join me in doing the same,” the New York Democrat wrote on Twitter on Wednesday, arguing Congress shouldn’t extend such an honour to “individuals with deeply troubling human rights records – particularly for individuals whom our own State Department has concluded are engaged in systematic human rights abuses of religious monitoes and caste-opressed minorities.”

The progressive legislator was refering to the nationalist, Hindu-centric agenda of Mr Modi’s  Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been accused of discriminating against India’s sizeable Muslim minority.

Mr Modi was accused of being complicit in sectarian violence in which over 1,000 Muslims were killed in 2002 while he was chief minister of Gujarat. Mr Modi allegedly stood by as Hindu mobs terrorised the state’s Muslim population in retaliatory violence after a group of Hindu pilgrims were killed.

The BJP leader was later cleared by a team appointed by the Indian Supreme Court.

A 2023 BBC documentary claiming new evidence supporting the accusations that Mr Modi had facilitated violence that had “hallmarks of ethnic cleansing” was blocked by the Indian government.

Fellow Democrats Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, both of whom are Muslim, are also boycotting the speech.

“It’s shameful that Modi has been given a platform at our nation’s capital — his long history of human rights abuses, anti-democratic actions, targeting Muslims & religious minorities, and censoring journalists is unacceptable,” Ms Tlaib wrote on Twitter of the decision. “I will be boycotting Modi’s joint address to Congress.”

“Prime Minister Modi’s government has repressed religious minorities, emboldened violent Hindu nationalist groups, and targeted journalists/human rights advocates with impunity,” Ms Omar added. “I will NOT be attending Modi’s speech.”

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