The Indian Government has a duty under the Genocide Convention to immediately punish those who have called for a genocide of India’s Muslims at Haridwar city in December, the world’s foremost genocide expert, Dr. Gregory Stanton, has said.
“Genocide does not already have to be underway to be punishable,” Dr. Stanton said delivering a plenary address at the end of a three-day global summit. “Incitement to commit genocide is covered under the Genocide Convention, Article 3. Incitement to commit genocide is exactly what was preached at the Haridwar congregation.”
Dr. Stanton’s reference was to a Hindu religious gathering organized in December at the north Indian city of Haridwar where a speaker openly called for the killing of two million Muslims. The self-styled Hindu monk, Yati Narasinghanand, who organized that meeting, was bailed by a court within days of arrest. Pooja Pandey, a saffron-robed female monk who gave the call for genocide, is yet to be charged or arrested.
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide – the Genocide Convetion – was conceived in response to last century’s Holocaust in which over six million Jews were killed. India has ratified the Convention and is therefore covered under it. Article 3 covers “direct and public incitement to commit genocide.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has maintained a silence on the calls for genocide. His government has rejected international calls to act against hate speeches. Narasinghanand and Pandey are well known affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India’s 96-year-old Hindu supremacist movement that wants to convert India into a Hindu nation and strip Muslims and Christians of equal rights. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is an affiliate of the RSS. Modi himself is an RSS member.
While identifying “ethnocentrism” as the cause of genocide, Dr. Stanton said nationalism was the “most deadly form of ethnocentrism… It is racism on steroids.” Genocide begins by portraying “as the real killers – that they will kill us, if we don’t kill them first,” he said. This is “mirroring,” a “most accurate prediction of what the perpetrators intend to do themselves,” which is genocide, he added.
Dr. Stanton is the founder-president of Genocide Watch, a US-based nonprofit that has issued an alert for genocide of Muslims in India. Thirty years ago he had predicted the genocide in Rwanda. He is also the founder of the global Alliance Against Genocide.
He made his remarks bringing up the concluding day of the three-day summit, titled India On The Brink: Preventing Genocide, where over 50 panelists spoke on 17 panels.
Genocide also involves dehumanizing a community. For example, India’s home minister Amit Shah has “called Muslims: termites. It renders other people not human, and killing them not murder. Dehumanization overcomes the normal human revulsion of committing murder. Exclusion becomes a religious doctrine ordained by God,” he said.
Dr. Stanton blamed social media for making “propaganda fast, and deadly. Facebook and WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, are now the main platforms for incitement to genocide in India.”
To counter Hindu majoritarian nationalism, India “must re-center nationalism. It must take the religion out of India’s nationalism. It must be re-centered on the secular vision of India’s founders. This movement must be led by people in India that believe India must remain a secular democracy.”
Dr. Stanton said the Indian diaspora can help the “movement for a secular Indian nationalism. We should organize a continuing movement to keep the defeat of Modi’s nationalism at the top of the policies around the world. We have therefore announced the launching of a campaign to counter Modi’s nationalism.”