Washington, December 14 : The world’s best-known expert on genocide has said Muslims in occupied Kashmir and Assam (India) are just one step away from extermination (genocide).
President of the Genocide Watch, Dr Gregory Stanton, at a Briefing at the US Congress in Washington said, “Preparation for genocide is definitely under way in India.” He said, the persecution of Muslims in Assam and Kashmir is the stage just before genocide and the next stage is extermination- that’s what we call a genocide.
The Congressional Briefing “Ground reports on Kashmir & NRC” was organized by three US-based civil society organizations – the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Emgage Action and Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR).
Dr Stanton said the ongoing genocide in both Kashmir and Assam was a “classic case” and followed the pattern of the “Ten Stages of Genocide”. He said that Modi’s regime had all the hallmarks of an incipient Nazi regime. “Nationalism taken to its extreme is fascism and Nazism,” he added.
Dr Stanton created the world-famous “Ten Stages of Genocide” as a presentation to the US Department of State when he worked there in 1996. He also drafted UN Security Council resolutions that created the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda and the Burundi Commission of Inquiry, two places where genocides had occurred.
After leaving the Department of State in 1999, Dr Stanton founded Genocide Watch, a civil society organization that says it “exists to predict, prevent, stop and punish genocide and other forms of mass murder”. A former President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, his research on genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda, and of the Rohingyas is recognized worldwide.
The first stage was “classification” of “us versus them”. The second stage, “symbolization”, named the victims as “foreigner”. The third stage, “discrimination”, ‘classified [the victims] out of the group accepted for citizenship” so that they had no “human rights or civil rights of citizens” and were “discriminated against legally”. The fourth stage, dehumanization, “is when the genocidal spiral begins to go downwards. You classify the others as somehow worse than you. You give them names like ‘terrorists’, or even names of animals, start referring to them as a cancer in the body politic, you talk about them as a disease that must be somehow dealt with.”
The fifth stage was creating an “organization” to commit the genocide: the role played by the “Indian army in Kashmir and the census takers in Assam”. The sixth stage was “polarization”, which is achieved by propaganda. The seventh stage was “preparation”, and the eighth “persecution”, where Assam and Kashmir currently were. After the ninth stage of “extermination”, comes the tenth stage of “denial”, Dr. Stanton said.
Dr Angana Chatterji, a scholar with University of California, Berkeley, also participating in the Briefing via video link, slammed the crackdown in occupied Kashmir since Modi government revoked special status of Kashmir on August 5. “Reports have documented the inhumane treatment and torture of children, the elderly, and women; illegal detentions, including mass detentions; the denial of the basic needs of life, the curtailment of freedom of speech and movement, the falsification of social facts and their amplification by the authorities and the closure of sacred places,” she said.
She criticized India’s Home Minister, Amit Shah, for reportedly saying that Western human rights standards cannot be blindly applied to India. “Today, over 120 days into the siege, the continuance of preventive detention and illegal, warrantless detention; custodial torture; the reported violation of the right to information, health, education, food and shelter, restrictions on freedom of speech and civil and political rights; and the denial of political space remain urgent, critical issues,” she added.
Dr Chatterji said, “Kashmiris be given the opportunity to publicly articulate their experiences and express their anguish, rage, fear, helplessness and dissent. The international community’s outrage has not been impactful thus far. When a state fails to uphold its mandate to govern within the parameters of international law, the international community must act.”
Raqib Hameed Naik, a journalist from occupied Kashmir, said the ongoing lockdown in the occupied territory was one of the worst sieges in the last decade. He also disputed the Indian government’s claim that Indian troops had not killed any Kashmiris since August 5 when the special status of the territory was withdrawn.
“Let me put it on record that, so far, we have been able to document five killings by Indian forces. The number could be higher, but due to communications blockade and severe restrictions on the movement of the press, we have not been able to get exact figures from different parts of the Valley,” Naik said.
He said that he had met with many minors who were imprisoned without charges. One of them, Muzamil Feroz Rah of Srinagar was arrested by the police in a midnight raid from his home. He said that the courts in Kashmir were not functional as most lawyers were on strike against the illegal detention of Bar Association’s President. In any case, he said, many family members are reluctant to seek judicial remedy as they fear that the authorities might charge their kin if they approach the courts for bails.
The communications blockade was also affecting every sector and healthcare, IT, hospitality, banking, and education were affected the most, Naik said. “The e-commerce sector dependent on the internet has seen 10,000 people lost their jobs. Thousands of children couldn’t submit forms for engineering and medical entrance examinations due to the Internet shutdown.
He said, “Patients needing dialysis, chemotherapy, and emergency surgeries, and pregnant women are unable to reach tertiary health care centers due to the transport shutdown.” Communications had broken down between pharmacies and drug suppliers. “Dr Farida Ghoghawala, who runs infertility clinics in Kashmir, hasn’t been able to follow up on even a single patient in last five months due to the Internet shutdown,” Naik added.
Ms Teesta Setalvad, a human rights defender, who also joined the briefing by video, said that the National Register for Citizens (NRC) in Assam, which had discriminated against Muslims in the state, was being used to subvert human rights in Assam. There are laid down guidelines and standard operating procedures to carry out this exercise but none of it is being followed, she added.
The NRC process was being used to pit lingual communities against each other and creating fissures between different castes… A frenzy is being whipped up in West Bengal, Meghalaya and other states “to disturb the peace and create unrest,” she said.
Ms Setalvad criticized the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) that was approved by Indian Parliament this week and aims to introduce religion as a basis to grant Indian citizenship to foreigners. The CAB, along with a nationwide NRC as Amit Shah has announced, will bring untold suffering to people across the country. It will damage, fundamentally and irreparably, the nature of the Indian republic. This is why they, and all citizens of conscience, demand that the government not betray the constitution,” she said.