Communities Call On Chairman Engel To Act on Kashmir & India
Updated: May 2, 2020
March 4th 2020
Multiple organization representing millions of Americans asks Chairman Engel to put HR.745 to vote in the House Foreign Affairs Committee
The undersigned organizations represent a wide range of faiths, cultural backgrounds, and nationalities in the United States. We write to express our deep concerns about Congress’ ongoing failure to hold the government of India accountable for its discriminatory policies and actions targeting communities in Kashmir and across India. This week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee under the leadership of Chairman Eliot Engel had a chance to act by taking up House Resolution 745, a non-binding bipartisan resolution introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal and co-sponsored by over 60 members of Congress. H.Res.745 recognizes the human rights violations in Kashmir since August 2019 and urges the Indian government to conform to human rights laws and standards. A potential amendment would further condemn India’s discriminatory citizenship and proposed registry laws that target religious minorities and vulnerable populations.
Yet Chairman Engel has repeatedly refused to even bring the resolution up for debate. We are deeply alarmed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s posture of stonewalling and inaction. We call upon Chairman Eliot Engel, Vice Chairman Michael McCaul, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressional leadership to take action immediately.
Kashmiris continue to be cut off from each other and the outside world after the Indian government unilaterally revoked Jammu & Kashmir’s autonomous status on August 5th, plunged the region into darkness, and placed thousands of political and civil society leaders, business owners, and even children in jail. Six months later, many remain imprisoned, including the President of the Jammu & Kashmir Bar Association, Mian Abdul Qayyum, who has been denied access to medical care for his life-threatening illnesses. Meanwhile, the Indian government has continued its restriction on internet access for the majority of Kashmiris in what has been confirmed as the world’s longest internet shutdown in a democracy. Kashmiris have been stripped of their most basic human and democratic rights, even as the Indian government has restricted access to the Valley by independent human rights observers and international journalists.
At the same time, minority communities across India have faced an unprecedented wave of targeting on the heels of discriminatory policies including the Citizenship Amendment Act and a national registry which could render millions stateless. Last week, as President Trump warmly embraced Prime Minister Modi in India, violent Hindu nationalist mobs were allowed to target, beat, and kill Indian Muslims and vandalize mosques. The Indian government’s complicity in allowing this ongoing violence has been called nothing short of a pogrom. Houses of worship have been burned to the ground while the Modi government and local police look the other way or, in many cases, actively stoke violence.
Muslims in Kashmir and across India are not the only religious minority to face a skyrocketing of violent persecution. Indian Christians have also faced outbreaks of mob violence and watched their churches burn to rubble as the Modi government again refuses to intercede.
Rep. Jayapal introduced H.Res.745 last December to hold the Indian government accountable for its actions. The resolution has gained bipartisan support thanks to the advocacy of communities around the country. Despite this groundswell and bipartisan consensus, Chairman Engel has repeatedly refused to add the legislation to the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s markup calendar, even as he and other members have continued to meet with officials from the Indian government.
The window to take consequential action is closing quickly. Our elected representatives can no longer stand idly by while millions in Kashmir and India suffer. In the face of such clear oppression and violence, taking up a non-binding resolution is the bare minimum that Congress can do. We urge Chairman Engel, Vice Chairman McCaul, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Congressional leadership to act now.