U.S. congressional resolution highlights religious freedom concerns in India

(Photo: Unsplash/Jon Tyson)

A resolution about religious freedom in India, introduced in the US Congress in June 2023 by Minnesota’s Representative Ilhan Omar, has once again gained attention after a Christian watchdog group shared it on their website.

International Christian Concern, shared information about House Resolution 542 that calls on the State Department to designate India a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act – a recommendation made for four consecutive years by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) due to ongoing, systematic violations against religious minorities.

The resolution cites USCIRF’s 2023 annual report that found India’s national, state and local governments promoted and enforced religiously discriminatory policies in 2022 targeting Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits and Adivasis. These include laws on religious conversion, interfaith relationships, wearing of hijabs and cow slaughter.

USCIRF further described the Indian government suppressing critical voices – particularly religious minorities and their advocates – through surveillance, harassment, property demolition and detention. The report outlined the use of draconian laws like UAPA and sedition charges to restrict freedoms of religion and expression, “creating an increasing climate of intimidation and fear.”

The resolution also highlights USCIRF’s enumeration of increased criminalization of religious conversion, with bans specifically targeting Christians and Muslims including prohibitions on interfaith marriage. It notes the ruling BJP party committed to harsher interfaith marriage penalties in its 2022 Uttar Pradesh election manifesto.

Additionally, the resolution summarises USCIRF warnings over the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Registry of Citizens posing severe risks of statelessness or indefinite detention for hundreds of thousands of Muslims. It also describes USCIRF outlining a trend of attacks on religious minorities in homes and places of worship.

As of June 2023, USCIRF listed 55 imprisoned Indian nationals as religious freedom victims – with 41 still detained by February 2024. This includes Father Stan Swamy, a jailed Catholic priest and activist declared arbitrarily detained by the UN, who died in custody.

House Resolution 542 condemns human rights and religious freedom violations in India targeting numerous groups. It expresses grave concern over worsening treatment of religious minorities while calling for India’s designation as a Country of Particular Concern.

The resolution’s introduction last summer coincided with Rep. Omar’s congressional briefing on the same issues – indicating continued momentum behind pressure for decisive action by the United States.

Source link

Leave a Comment