Indian diaspora members in Brussels went on a tour of the city to raise awareness about attacks on religious minorities in India. The three-day tour, which featured two enormous banners atop bicycles that presented statistics on hate crimes, took place on the occasion of International Human Rights Day on December 10, which commemorates the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The London Story’s press release said, “While India was instrumental in framing the human rights language for the UDHR, the rights of minorities have steeply regressed under the current Hindu nationalist regime of Narendra Modi.”
One banner read: “In India, police tortured 41 children. Their crime? They are Muslim.” This was related to the Uttar Pradesh police’s abuse of 41 Muslim youngsters as part of a crackdown on protests against the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act in 2020.
Another sign alerted passers-by of an occurrence in Gujarat in October 2022, when police forces chained nine Muslim men to a pole and publicly flogged them in front of a civilian mob.
Members of the diaspora reported widespread public support. One elderly man who passed the campaign at the Central Station said, “It was very shocking to learn about this, I was stunned”.
Even a group of Palestinian refugees who passed the campaign at a bus stop showed their solidarity stating, “We are from Palestine, so we know about the things governments do to keep people oppressed. You have our solidarity,”
A group of Spanish tourists in the city centre said, “It is good that you are doing this, otherwise we would never know about it”. A middle school teacher said, “I am teaching about inequalities and injustice, so I will definitely bring this up in class”.
The banners stated that, on average, 2420 persons are attacked for their religious beliefs every year, citing data from the DOTO Database as of 2014, which amounts to a minimum of examples that are available to the general public. Muslims make up more than 86% of the victims, although violence against Christians also increased by 81% between 2020 and 2021.
The European Union’s headquarters are located in Brussels, therefore the diaspora activists decided to hold the tour there. The European Parliament was one of the destinations on the bicycle tour when staff members and passers-by were exposed to the campaign’s message. The banner also made a quick stop at the Brussels consulate of India.
Dr. Ritumbra Manuvie, the director of the Indian diaspora-led think tank The London Story said, “India must remember that it was built on tolerance, secularism, diversity, and equality. On today’s Human Rights Day, we call on the Indian government to ensure dignity, freedom, and justice for all people, including its religious minorities”.
The London Story (TLS), a diaspora-led think tank with its headquarters in The Hague, The Netherlands, includes members of the diaspora. TLS keeps track of and archives hate speech directed at religious minorities in India on social media and promote human rights-centred, inclusive cooperation between the EU and India.