On February 19th, 2022, Edmonton-based community leaders and volunteers gathered to discuss the peace, security, and human rights of global minorities.
By Tazeen Hasan
"Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity."—The Holy Quran (2:104)
Local human rights organizers in Edmonton extended an invitation for community members to learn about the work of Justice for All Canada. Organizations in attendance included:
During the meet-up, Executive Director Taha Ghayyur gave us a brief history of this organization and challenged us to mobilize for the good of our community.
Canadian Muslims have established and evolved initiatives that give them a platform to share information and mobilize for human rights in Canada and around the world. A few examples include Sound Vision, DawaNet, Adam’s World (a Muslim version of Sesame Street), and Canadian Muslim News, a media project allowing Muslims to take charge of narratives involving the Muslim world and beyond.
About Justice For All Canada
Justice for All Canada focuses on conducting advocacy and empowerment for global minorities (primarily Muslims) around the world. The organization began in the United States 30 years prior as a response to the growing troubles and eventual catastrophic genocide in Bosnia. Justice For All (US head office) soon became recognized by the UN as a valuable advisor to them. This represented the first time Muslims in the west came together for human rights.
This organization played a key role in getting the international community to recognize rape as a war crime during the Bosnian war.
Justice for All started its chapter office in Canada in 2012.
Fascism in India
In March 2002, Justice for All sounded the alarm on organized anti-Muslim pogroms occurring in Gujarat, India, under the local leadership of Narendra Modi. Fourteen years later, Modi assumed power and has nationalized the agenda that seeks to eliminate religious minorities such as Muslims, Christians and Sikhs. Leaders in current positions of power have gone on record stating that their goal is to kill “2 million Muslims with the hope that the remaining 198 million will flee India”.
Justice for All Canada has had success with respect to putting human rights issues on the front burner of Parliament. Canada was the first country to declare the treatment of the Rohingya in Burma as genocide, dedicating over $300 million in aid to supporting the refugee situation.
Canada stood with The Gambia when it took Burmese leadership to the international court of justice for their mistreatment of not only of Rohingya Muslims, but the Karen and Chin peoples, and Christian minority groups.
Justice For All Canada continues their advocacy work on 6 campaigns:
The Quranic passage Chapter 2, Verse 104 that supports this work reads: "Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity."
We are invited to change for good through our hands, our tongue and our heart. The lowest level is our heart – where we “feel bad” but do no more than that.
Change starts with ourselves.
All Prophets reflect a prophetic mission: To honour the clear signs in the book (Quran) and keep the balance (e.g. in our ecosystem and our relationships) so that people will uphold justice.
Angela Davis said, “In a racist society like ours, it is not enough to be silent and non-racist – we need to be Anti-Racist!”
We need to pray for the oppressed, for there is no barrier between the person who is oppressed and God. We are all ambassadors of peace and justice. This is echoed in Christian Gospel Epistles as well, where God empowers us to be ambassadors of reconciliation.
During our brunch meeting, here are the four things that Taha invited us to do:
The closing prayer invited God to accept our work, help us to be united and help us to be strong for the sake of God.
Dr. Nahla shared with us one way she checks in with herself around the work of caring about each other in our world:
In Islam, it is said that saving a soul is like saving the world.
In Islam, the reference to soul means the whole person.
May it be so!
Democracy for South Asian Minorities Panel Discussion, organized by SARIM
By Tazeen Hasan
Last month, I was honoured to share a panel with scholars from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan that was organized by thinktank South Asian Research Institute for Minorities (SARIM).
The webinar was titled "Democracy is Meaningless for Minorities in South Asia”. The topic reminded me of a graduate course titled 'Democracy and its Discontents' at Harvard Kennedy School in Spring 2019.
The course was about the apparent failure of democracy as a system after the end of the cold war. Interestingly, this was one of two courses I attended during my graduate program that changed my worldview in support of democracy and democratic values. In the beginning of the course, we were introduced to several articles by renowned political scientists about the disappointments that the democratic world is facing in the aftermath of the cold war. And finally, we were given an assignment to write about the most significant threat to democracy in the 21st Century.
I have been writing about the immigrant crisis since 2014 and the anti-immigrant politics that dominated the western world. The choice for threats to democracy was obvious. On the other hand, as a daughter of immigrant parents from India, I had observed the anti-Muslim Hindutva politics in India very closely.
Today's most significant threat to democracy in India is right-wing populism based on racial supremacy and religious extremism. This has ultimately led to fascism and neo-nazism in the region. From India to Germany, right-wing populism is rising in countries considered “liberal democracies”. These populists are driven by anti-immigrant sentiments, mainly against Muslim immigrants in the western hemisphere.
In India, this populism is primarily based on religious extremism and directly attacks Muslim minorities without any disguise. The general political scenario is mired with Islamophobia:
Right-wing religious extremism is no doubt rising in every region of the world. Still, nowhere is it as vivid and brutal as in India, which is considered the largest “democracy” in the world. Those Hindutva leaders belonging to the Sangh Parivar, associated with the ruling BJP party, openly call for a Muslim genocide.
Hindutva Nationalism and Vigilantes in India
Scores of Muslims and Dalits have been lynched by Hindutva mobs on the accusation of cow meat consumption. Minorities, particularly Muslims, have a disproportionate share among the inmates in the prisons. Hindutva mobs have attacked Christian churches. Peaceful Sikh protestors are considered terrorists by Hindutva supporters. The Dalits are being thrashed publicly.
The BJP government has not only granted impunity to these Hindutva groups but has also sanctioned them directly. Amnesty International, one of the most prominent human rights groups, has been forced to shut down its operation by the government of India. The monitoring staff of United States Religious freedom USCIRF are denied visas.
Moreover, for decades, India has denied United Nations observers access to Indian-administered Kashmir since decades. In 2019, after the revocation of Kashmir's autonomous status, the U.N. staff, U.S. diplomats, and any other foreign observer were denied access to Kashmir. One doesn't need to be a geopolitical expert to realize what India is trying to hide behind the portal of a peaceful, tolerant, and pluralistic democracy.
Indian diplomats, advocates, Bollywood have successfully portrayed itself as a nation built upon the Gandhian ideology of nonviolence and coexistence. The reality is with every passing day; it is becoming more and more difficult for minorities to survive in India.
Here comes an interesting dilemma: if democracy is not failing, why is it meaningless or irrelevant for minorities of the largest democracy in the world?
Why is it happening in the so-called largest democracy in the world? To answer this question, we will have to reconsider the definition of democracy. Is 21st century India a democracy? Do the regime and society follow democratic norms, or do they possess essential ingredients of democracy?
Democracy is the rule of people, by the people, for the people. The Kennedy School course made me realize that this system has many flaws and loopholes; some are non-rectifiable. Even with all its weaknesses and shortcomings, I’ve learned democracy is still the best political system man has ever experimented with.
Democracy is considered the rule of the majority by default, which allows tyranny of the majority. In reality, the electoral system that enables the tyranny of the majority is not democracy but majoritarianism.
On the other hand, constitutional democracy does protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of everyone, including minorities.
Besides a transparent electoral system, a democratic system has some crucial ingredients: The rule of law, such as independent courts, which provide guarantees for:
When I look at the post-colonial history of India, I feel deep respect for the secular vision of Jawahar Lal Nehru and B.R. Ambedkar. Unfortunately, 21st century Modi's India is not based on Nehru's vision. Instead, it reflects A. D Savarkar's ideology of Hindutva.*
It is not democracy that is irrelevant or meaningless, but the lack of the rule of law and respect for constitutional protection, that leads to the persecution of minorities.
*A disclaimer is necessary here. Hindutva and Hinduism are not the same. While Hinduism is a religion with thousands of years of coexistence with other religions and ideologies, Hindutva is an extreme right-wing ideology. Hindutva claims India belongs to Hindus only, and that other religious groups should either assimilate themselves in Hindu culture, or accept second-class status and face the tyranny of the majority.
Amnesty's Declaration of Israel as an Apartheid State: A Giant Stride Towards the Delegitimization of a Zionist State
Amnesty's declaration of Israel as an Apartheid State is a big step towards delegitimizing the Zionist State. It's a big step towards the delegitimization of the Zionist State, writes Tazeen Hasan.
By Tazeen Hasan
The recent 208-page report Amnesty International issued declaring Israel an Apartheid State is a milestone for the Palestinian movement.
It's a big step towards delegitimizing the Israeli State. Anyone who keeps an eye on Israeli media can sense the rising fear inside the zionist capital. 2022 will be the year when major international institutions will declare it an apartheid state.
The rights group has 10 million members advocating for universal human rights, raising a strong voice against crimes against humanity by aggressor states and entities.
Nonetheless, Amnesty is not the first rights group to expose Israel's crimes against humanity as apartheid.
Before the Amnesty report, the Israeli NGO B'Tselem and global rights group Human Rights Watch also declared Israel an apartheid state.
While the Israeli government and the US ambassador in Israel both rejected the report, Amnesty International's general secretary, Agnes Callamard, said Palestinians "are treated as an inferior racial group" and are "systematically deprived of their rights."
There is a growing fear inside the zionist capital regarding the consequences of its own seven decades-long histories of systematic crimes against humanity. According to a news report by Jerusalem Post published four weeks before the Amnesty report on January 6th, 2022, Israeli Foreign Minister expressed his fear that the region would be declared an “apartheid state” in 2022.
Over the last twenty years, pro-Palestinian groups have accused Israel of systematic discrimination against Arab Palestinians. These crimes include;
The list is not exhaustive.
Recently, four global institutions have begun the process of investigation against Israeli crimes against humanity: International Criminal Court (ICC), Human Rights Council, International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the Geneva-based United Nations Committee for Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
The UN General Assembly has also provided $5.5 million to the Human Rights Council inquiry against crimes against humanity.
Notably, when Human Rights Watch declared Israel an apartheid state in April 2021, these developments from rights groups and global institutions represent a big blow to the legitimization of the Israeli State.
The rights group also feared that the report will be seen as anti-semitic and an attempt to destabilize Israel. The report recommends "targeted sanctions, such as asset freezes, against Israeli officials most implicated in the crime of apartheid."
Justice For All Canada highly appreciates the advocacy efforts of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to document Israeli Crimes against humanity.
Advocacy Actions in Canada
The Indian govt invoked the public Safety Act against the journalist Sajjad Gul, saying he is well educated and may provoke the public against the government on social media, so his case should be non-bailable.
Photo courtesy: Sajjad Gul/Twitter
Imagine a democracy where posting a local video on social media is an offence. Adding insult to injury is the fact that these charges are non-bailable under a law that Amnesty International long calls a lawless law.
Sajjad Gul, 29, a Master's student in Journalism at the University of Kashmir, and a local reporter at the online media outlet Kashmir Walla, was arrested on January 6 on the accusation that he posted a video of the relatives of a slain militant raising “Anti-India” slogans.
According to a recent report by Indian Express, a reputable Indian national media outlet,
“Three FIRs were registered against him – two based on complaints by police. Nonetheless, the judicial magistrate's court granted him bail on January 15, but he was booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA) the next day”.
FIR, or First Information Report, is a document prepared by Indian police noting serious offences.
The PSA has been used since the late 1970s to crush any political resistance against the state. Individuals booked under this law can not apply for bail and can be kept in custody for two years without any judicial procedure or trial.
Ironically, after completing the maximum years of detention, the victim of this brutal and lawless act is usually arrested again outside the gate. This vicious cycle continues until the Indian government finally decides the victim is no longer a threat to its colonial project.
A.S. Dalut, the former chief of Indian intelligence agencies Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Intelligence Bureau (IB), writes in his 2015-memoir “Kashmir: the Vajpayee Years” that they [Indian authorities] used to arrest political prisoners outside the prison gate.
According to fair trial standards, prolonged detention of prisoners without trial is arbitrary.
The Indian government is a signatory of several international treaties which obligate it to follow international human rights and humanitarian law.
The whole Kashmiri leadership, ie: political leaders, journalists, human rights defenders, and lawyers are currently detained under lawless laws like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), the PSA, or under fabricated charges of “money laundering” and having “links” with cross border terrorist organizations.
Since the arrest of Khurram Parvez, the global award-winning human rights defender, the Indian government has intensified its crackdown against Kashmiri civil society to an unprecedented level.
The detainee's crime is nothing but their ability to mobilize the people of Kashmir.
The Indian government is scared of educated people in Kashmir.
As someone commented on Twitter, "being well educated is hazardous in Kashmir."
India: A So-Called Secular Democracy Where Vishwa Hindu Parishad Members Drag Passengers out of a Train on 'Love Jihad' Accusations
Love Jihad is a term used by some radical groups to describe relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women. The concept is based on a conspiracy theory that Muslim men lure Hindu women to convert them to Islam. Interfaith marriages have been banned based on forced conversions in Uttar Pradesh, the most prominent Indian State.
Photo Courtesy: SKG Photography
Imagine a secular and liberal democracy where family friends belonging to different genders cannot travel together, because this act depicts them as committing a crime in the eyes of the law.
According to reports by Indian media, three members of Vishwa Hindu Paresh, a Hindutva organization and an important member of Sangh Parivar, dragged a Muslim man and his Hindu traveling companion out of a train, accusing the former of 'love jihad.'
The Love Jihad conspiracy theory transformed into an anti-conversion law against Muslims in India. Hindutva followers enjoy impunity to humiliate, beat, and drag passengers to the police station.
Love Jihad is the name given by BJP-affiliated organizations called Sangh Parivar, to fabricate the conspiracy that Muslim men “lure” Hindu women to convert them to Islam. Interfaith marriages have been banned practically on the accusations of forced conversions in Uttar Pradesh, the most prominent Indian State ruled by a BJP Chief Minister who has publicly promised a “Muslim-free” India in his election campaign.
Notably, the law came into force days after the Chief Minister promised to fight against "love jihad." This is nothing but lawfare. A war fought with the help of legislation. The persecution of minorities was planned and perpetrated by lawmakers.
79 of 86 people booked under the new law are Muslims, Hindustan times reported. A total of 86 persons were booked in 16 First Information Reports (FIRs) since the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020.
According to the news, 'in a video shot by local channels, the VHP members can be seen forcibly taking the two passengers to Ujjain railway police station for questioning. En route, they are beating Shaikh (the Muslim train passenger).'
Police make the passengers wait until their parents arrive from their hometown Indore, 65 kilometres away from where they were forced to leave the train.
Muslims: A vulnerable minority in India
Ironically, both passengers refused to register complaints, probably out of fear. Furthermore, the Railway Police did not take action against the VHP members either.
The fact that the passengers did not file a police complaint and the police did not take any action against VHP members tells enough about the vulnerable circumstances the Muslims are facing in so-called secular India.
In the viral video, the three VHP men can be seen thrashing Shaikh while dragging him from the AC coach of the train on the way to the police station.'
Ironically, the fact that this happened in India, which is considered the largest liberal secular democracy by the outside world, is enough evidence that the world has intentionally shut its eyes from the reality of India.
Indian diplomats, Bollywood, and right-wing Hindutva speakers portray India as a peaceful, tolerant, pluralistic society based on Gandhi's nonviolent philosophy. The reality is, India is the worst majoritarian state disguised as a secular democracy where minorities live in constant fear from extremist elements impacting their lives, self-respect, and property.
The Sangh Parivar
Leaders of the Sangh Parivar, an amalgamation of organizations run by adherents of Hindutva and supported by the ruling BJP government, are publicly calling for genocide.
Vishva Hindu Parishad is one of the most active and public proponents of the genocide against Muslim minorities.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is supporting such organizations actively participating in genocide.
Also, it is interesting that the VHP, whose leaders enjoy impunity by the ruling BJP government in their rhetoric against the Muslims, also enjoys a respectable position among the highest political echelons of the western world.
In January 2022, Prime Minister Trudeau sent a congratulatory message to the Inauguration Ceremony of the Hindu Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Canada. Ironically, this organization that actively supports genocide in India is allowed to work freely in Canada and other western countries, and collect funds for their genocidal operations in Canada.
Notably, the head of the Hindu Chamber of Commerce, Naresh Chavda, is a VHP supporter. Ironically, it is the same VHP whose leaders repeat ad nauseam calls for Muslim genocide at their public events
Trudeau was not the only politician who sent messages to the newly formed Hindu Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Head of the Conservative Party, Erin O'Toole, and Ontario Premier, Doug Ford, also sent congratulatory messages to the event.
Notably, Indian organizations like the VHP openly talk about killing Muslims. Still, when they operate in the western world, they work under the banner of humanitarian causes, charity or commerce, and industry.
The Western world should open its eyes and stop supporting the genocidal regime of BJP and its affiliated Sangh Parivar and their foreign counterparts operating in the western world in the disguise of charities and organizations, business, and commerce.
These charities are the funding sources for the future Genocide, most likely multiple genocides in India.
The support VHP enjoys in the Western world is not new. According to an article on Harvard University, in 2007, the New Zealand Prime Minister attended a conference organized by VHP.
According to the article, 'New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark has been criticized for attending a conference organized by the Hindu Council of New Zealand in Auckland last week. The group is alleged to have strong anti-Muslim views and links with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), a Hindu radical outfit.'
'Sapna Samant, a filmmaker who attended the conference, claimed Muslims were condemned during the event, which was opened by Prime Minister Helen Clark. She questioned how Clark could have been involved in such an event, thestuff.co.nz reported.'
The Western world should reevaluate its stance and attitude of ignoring India's crimes against humanity.
Humiliating episodes, like dragging passengers from a train and taking them to the police station, is a new norm in India supported by laws like Love Jihad.
Being silent, the world supports this anti-Muslim legislation and the genocidal regime of the BJP, which provides impunity for these crimes against humanity.
Reposted with permission from The Platform Project. Access the original article here.
Imagine that you are being separated from your family, loved ones who you will probably never see again. That your house is on lock down and you are being beaten and forced into prisons. Assume that you are being deprived of your organs unwillingly. Your identity and culture are being erased; you are being erased. This scenario feels barbaric to most of us, but this is the reality for most Muslims living in China.
The Uyghurs are a minority Turkic ethnic group native to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China. Historically, Xinjiang has been under the control of various dynasties including the Mongol Empire. It came under Chinese rule as a result of the expansion of the Qing Dynasty. In 1912, the Qing dynasty was replaced by the Republic of China. From the 1950s to the 1970s, the Chinese government funded a mass migration of Han Chinese people into the region, with goal of eradicating the Uyghur identity and culture. Infuriated Uyghurs saw this as a threat to their culture and identity which resulted in riots in Xinjiang. From then on, the situation has been deteriorated for Uyghurs and Xinjiang has become one of the most heavily policed regions of the world.
On 13 August 2018, at a UN meeting in Geneva, the delegation from China informed the United Nations Human Rights Committee that “There is no such thing as re-education centers in Xinjiang and it is completely untrue that China put 1 million Uyghurs into re-education camps“. The Chinese government has always denied the existence of these camps, until October 2018, when it officially legalized them. This is just a glimpse into the deceptiveness of the Chinese government, through the use of state sponsored propaganda the Chinese government has labelled these camps as “Re-education camps”, but the reality is far from it. These camps are in fact prisons.
In December 2018, the magazine Bitter Winter released three videos it claimed had been shot inside camps in the Yining area. The videos show jail-like features which the magazine claimed proved that the camps are detention facilities rather than ‘Schools’. Since 2016, it is estimated that over a million Uyghurs have been detained in the Xinjiang detention camps. The camps operate outside the legal system with many Uyghurs being imprisoned, without a trial and without any charges laid against them.
According to a Report by Adrian Zenz a German scholar, China is forcing sterilization and contraceptive devices on women in Xinjiang in an apparent attempt to limit the Muslim population of the Uyghurs. Mr. Zenz’s report states that women who had fewer than the two legally permitted children were involuntarily fitted with intra-uterine devices (IUDs), while others were coerced into receiving sterilization surgeries. Natural population growth in Xinjiang has declined dramatically in recent years, with growth rates falling by 84% in the two largest Uighur prefectures between 2015 and 2018 and declining further in 2019.
The Chinese government is also accused of murdering Uyghurs and members of Falun Gong religious group in order to forcefully harvest their organs. Hamid Sabi, Counsel to the China Tribunal, presented evidence from the tribunal’s final report, which was published in June 2019. The people were “cut open while still alive for their kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, cornea, and skin to be removed and turned into commodities for sale,” the report said. Sabi concluded by saying that it is the duty of international bodies like the UN to investigate the tribunal’s findings “not only regarding the possible charge of genocide but also in regard to crimes against humanity.”
Muslim women whose husbands have been detained in Chinese internment camps are reportedly being forced to share beds with male government officials assigned to monitor them in their homes. Human Rights Watch previously stated that Uyghur families are given no option to refuse these visits, which it said were an example of “deeply invasive forced assimilation practices” that “not only violate basic rights but are also likely to foster and deepen resentment in the region”.
This detention of adult Uyghurs has allegedly left many children without their parents. These children are sent to ‘boarding schools’ where they are forced to learn Mandarin Chinese and prohibited from exercising their religion. These trauma inflicted children are taken without parental consent and allegedly brainwashed to loathe and detest their parents and their culture. Mihrigul Tursun, a Uyghur woman detained in China, was separated from her infant triplets. She later came to know the heartbreaking news that one of her triplets had died and the other two had developed health problems.
There are no limits to China’s oppression of its Muslim population. China’s list of atrocities against the Uyghurs includes forced consumption of alcohol and pork, destruction of more than 100 Muslim cemeteries, demolishment of mosques across China, forced movement of Uyghur Muslims into labor factories.
In order to answer the plight of the Uyghurs, we need to take a few concrete steps. The first step is to impose sanctions against those personally responsible for the repression of Uyghur Muslims. U.S President Donald Trump signed an executive order on June 17th, 2020, that condemns the Chinese Communist Party for the detention centers and, recommends a tougher response to the human rights abuses suffered by Uyghurs Muslims. Under this policy, Chinese officials who are responsible for the governance of these camps would be subject to sanctions which include asset blocking and visa revocation. We, as citizens of Canada, should request Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to impose similar sanctions.
Secondly, boycott Beijing’s Winter Olympics 2020 and its sponsors. No one today would openly endorse holding the Games in a state holding millions in concentration camps, but this is precisely what is happening at the moment. A coordinated international boycott would make the 2022 Olympics an embarrassing flop for Beijing. Concerned members of the public should apply pressure on their national Olympic committees, politicians, and corporate Olympics sponsors. These intermediaries should, in turn, remind the International Olympic Committee that the PRC state’s policies in Xinjiang are a violation of multiple clauses of the Olympic Charter.
Canada should not be part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to link Beijing with some 70 other countries around the world. This is one of the main reasons behind the crackdown in Xinjiang as the province of Xinjiang is home to numerous projects along the Silk Road portion of the BRI.
Monetary donations will help in alleviating some of the hardships so many Uyghur families are going through. Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) situated in Canada is doing an amazing job of serving the Uyghur community in Turkey through sponsoring orphans, widow support, student scholarships, and trying to bring Uyghur families to Canada. You can donate at the link below and help us fight the good fight. Thank you!