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Wave of protests against Gandhi statues reaches Fresno on Gandhi’s 144 birthday

October 5, 2013 | By

Fresno, CA (October 5, 2013): Controversy is anticipated at Fresno State Peace Garden on Saturday (October 05, 2013) morning with the announcement of plans by a human rights group to demonstrate for “truth on Gandhi” during a university-sponsored celebration of the iconic Indian leader’s 144th birthday.

Gandhi Statue“Fresno State students and other local community members asked us to help them organize a demonstration for truth on Gandhi,” said Bhajan Singh of Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI). “Like most Americans, they are disturbed to see a statue of Gandhi, who openly sexually molested his grandnieces with impunity, placed in a Peace Garden alongside statues of honorable men like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez. Gandhi is a disgrace to nonviolence and his bust doesn’t belong at any public university.”

Protests against glorification of Gandhi have been brewing across California for years. Cerritos, a southern California town popularly known as “Little India,” has recently seen a sustained campaign for removal of a Gandhi statue placed in 2012. On September 14, around 100 demonstrated for removal of the Cerritos Gandhi statue. Since 2007, several protests have demanded removal of the San Francisco Ferry Building Gandhi statue. In 2010, plans for a statue proposed for the grounds of the State Capitol in Sacramento were quickly derailed after opponents spoke with legislators. Statues in Ottawa, Flint, London, and Johannesburg are among many others which have faced opposition.

In Fresno’s case, opponents like Arvin Valmuci of OFMI say their main argument is that “Gandhi’s true legacy was of racism, sexism, and casteism.” Top of the list for most people is Gandhi’s abuse of his teenage grandnieces Manu and Abha. Gandhi’s exploitation of the juvenile girls was exposed to a Western audience in recent biographies Great Soul by Joseph Lelyveld and Gandhi: Naked Ambition by Jad Adams. Calling it a “test of celibacy,” Gandhi required both under-18 girls to sleep naked with him on a nightly basis while in his 70s.

“Gandhi was a sick old man who molested his nieces,” said Valmuci. “Some think the good things he did outweigh that really big evil thing, but the rest of his legacy is just as scary. He promoted racial segregation in South Africa years before Apartheid, he wrote fawning letters to Hitler calling him ‘dear friend’ and saying he was not a monster, and he claimed to be nonviolent while constantly giving speeches which always incited violent rioting. Fresno State is experimenting with the minds of future generations by displaying this bust without telling the whole truth about Gandhi.”

Students from UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Sacramento State, and Fresno State are expected to demonstrate tomorrow at the Fresno State Peace Garden from 9AM to 11AM. They will be joined by other concerned citizens interested in telling the truth about Gandhi. Organizers like Jada Bernard of Sacramento, CA are adamant: “We do not hate Gandhi but love the truth. That is why we are marching.”

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and other minorities of South Asian origin, particularly those marginalized by the Hindu caste system. OFMI encourages secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity.

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