"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

NDP deplores growing state repression in India Featured

Cheryl Hardcastle Cheryl Hardcastle

 

The federal New Democratic Party of Canada has expressed “serious concern” over the human rights situation in the world’s so called largest democracy.

In a statement issued in response to growing repression under the right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party government, Cheryl Hardcastle, the NDP Human Rights Critic, has also urged the Canadian government to break its “deafening silence” and express its objections to human rights abuse perpetuated by the Indian authorities.

This is the first such statement coming from any major political party of Canada in relation to the present situation in India in the last many months.  

The statement says, “the attacks on prominent public intellectuals and political dissent in general, as well as attacks on non-Hindus, particularly Muslims, have grown ever since the Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power with a majority in 2014”.

Hardcastle categorically stated that Canada “must use all available leverage to pressure the Government of Narendra Modi to comply with international human rights standards.”

The development comes after the recent illegal arrest and release of Dr. Anand Teltumbde, a prominent scholar and human rights activist who has been charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) which is being frequently used to suppress any voice of dissent.

Teltumbde was charged, while other intellectuals were arrested all over India for questioning the power and standing up for the rights of the poor and marginalized.

The NDP has particularly raised its concern over the witch hunt against intellectuals, including Teltumbde, under the UAPA, which according to Amnesty International, “has often been abused and used to detain people peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and association”.

Former NDP MP Svend Robinson, a known advocate for human rights and social justice, is instrumental behind the statement. He was approached by members of Indians Abroad for Pluralist India which had organized a rally in support of Teltumbde in Surrey and asked for his intervention.

Robinson, who is aware of the political environment of India, had explained to the office of Hardcastle the gravity of the situation. It is pertinent to mention that Robinson had raised many human rights issues in India and around the world in the past while serving as an MP.

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