Nobel Laureates urge Gates Foundation to rescind Modi award

Nobel Laureates urge Gates Foundation to rescind Modi award over Kashmir crackdown
2 min read
17 September, 2019
Peace Laureates, celebrities blame the Indian Prime Ministerfor "attacks on minorities" and accuse him of "continu[ing] to drag India down the path of authoritarianism".
Modi has been accused of trampling on the rights of minorities in India. [Getty]
Nobel Laureates and celebrities have called on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to rescind an award to be given to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month, citing New Delhi's treatment of Kashmiris and "attacks on minorities" across the country.

Mairead Maguire, Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman, and Shirin Ebadi, all Nobel Peace Laureates, wrote a letter urging the Gates Foundation to prove that it "takes its aim of equity, justice, and human rights for all seriously" by withdrawing the award.

Also read: Pakistan's Khan slams 'cowardly' Modi over Kashmir annexation

British-Pakistani rapper Riz Ahmed, actor Jameela Jamil and UN High-Level Commissioner Alaa Murabit have withdrawn from the ceremony.   

The Gates Foundation announced on 3 September that it would honour PM Modi for his efforts to build toilets to end open defecation in India.

However the events in Kashmir and Assam in the past month have led to the protest over the award.

Stand With Kashmir, the independent grassroots organisation standing for the human rights of Kashmiris said in a press release that it is "inconceivable that the Gates Foundation would choose this moment to venerate a leader that continues to drag India down the path of authoritarianism".

The organisation "welcomed" the withdrawal of the actors from the event.

Prominent American politicians, including Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, have also expressed their concerns over the situation in Kashmir.

New Delhi revoked the northern state's autonomous status on 5 August, and imposed a media blackout and severe restrictions on movement and communication on its population. More than 500 political and community leaders remain in detention, with some being transported to prisons outside Kashmir.

At the same time, the government has created the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) to weed out illegal immigrants in the eastern state of Assam, and is currently building detention camps to house those who cannot prove their legal status in India.

Critics accuse the Modi government of using the NRC to target Muslims living in the region. Almost 2 million people have been left facing statelessness.

Prime Minster Modi was conferred the Order of Zayed last month, the UAE's highest civilian honour, days after India revoked Kashmir’s autonomous status.