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Sikh body protests against Visa for Indian Politician with tainted Human Rights Record

January 17, 2011 | By

Ottawa (January 17, 2011): The World Sikh Organization of Canada has written a letter of protest to Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney over government plans to host an Indian politician who was implicated in the massacre of more than 2,000 Muslim citizens in 2002 and was barred from visiting the U.S. in 2005.

Narendra Modi, 60, is chief minister of Gujarat, India, a state of 60 million with a mostly Hindu population, and a Muslim minority of about 9 per cent. Gujarat is a leader in oil and gas production and welcomes many large foreign investors including DuPont, Shell, and General Motors. It is known for approving environmental permits quickly.

As the Toronto Star reports, Mr. Kenney and other politicians have indicated through diplomatic channels that they would be willing to grant Mr. Modi a visa. Despite the fact that courting the controversial politician, who is a member of the Hindu nationalist Bharitya Janata Party is likely to create tension with India’s ruling Congress Party.

“It’s outrageous that the Canadian government is putting investment opportunities for the oil industry ahead of human rights,” said Gian Singh Sandhu, Senior Policy Advisor. “Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are among the groups reporting that in 2002 Chief Minister Modi in fact facilitated the violence that led to the death of as many as 2,000 Muslims, he also failed to investigate the massacres.”

WSO President Prem Singh Vinning said he found the cynical advice of former Canadian High Commissioner to India Peter Sutherland that Canada should overlook Mr. Modi’s past because “there aren’t too many politicians in India that are lily white,” offensive.

“He’s excusing Mr. Modi’s involvement in the slaughter and persecution of minorities by saying that everyone in India does it?” Mr Vinning said. “As a Canadian and a human rights advocate, I object to welcoming a politician whose track record is so shocking that India’s own National Human Rights Commission held that Mr. Modi played a role in the persecution of minority communities.”

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