US rights groups to protest against India PM Narendra Modi’s Washington visit

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US rights groups to protest against India PM Narendra Modi’s Washington visit

 

US rights groups to protest against India PM Narendra Modi’s Washington visit

US rights groups are planning protests against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's state visit to Washington next week over what they say is India's deteriorating human rights record.

The Indian American Muslim Council, Peace Action, Veterans for Peace and the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition plan to gather near the White House on June 22 when Modi is scheduled to meet US President Joe Biden.

Washington hopes for closer ties with the world's largest democracy, which is seen as a counterweight to China, but rights advocates worry that geopolitics will overshadow human rights concerns. The US has said these include government targeting of religious minorities, dissidents and journalists.

Another event in New York is planned to feature a show titled "Howdy Democracy" a 2019 play called "Howdy Modi!" A rally in Texas was attended by the Indian Prime Minister and the then-US President Donald Trump.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have invited policymakers, journalists and analysts to a screening in Washington next week of a BBC documentary on Modi that questions his leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

"My guess is that human rights won't figure much in the conversation," said Donald Kemp, a former US State Department official and part of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

Camp said that Washington would be reluctant to raise human rights issues in order to call Modi's visit a success on both sides.

The US State Department has said it regularly raises human rights concerns with Indian officials and respects the free speech rights of US citizens to protest against Modi.

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