Moon Desk: Australian Senators Jordon Steele-John, David Shoebridge, and Mehreen Faruqi have expressed their concerns over human rights abuses in India. The Senators have written a strong joint letter to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and urged both leaders to discuss these pressing issues during the forthcoming visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Australia.
The senators, representing the Australian Greens and with portfolios in foreign affairs, peace, and nuclear disarmament, voiced their deep concern for the situation of several minority groups in India.
The letter highlights grievances from a broad cross-section of the Indian diaspora and the Muslim and Sikh communities. These groups have shared their worries about the safety and freedoms of their relatives in India amidst an increasingly aggressive right-wing nationalist agenda.
The trio pointed out the decline in press freedom and freedom of speech under the Modi government as a grave issue. They reference the 2022 Press Freedom Index, which shows India at its lowest-ever ranking, indicating an alarming trend. Instances of censorship and harassment of journalists were also mentioned, including the Indian government’s move to ban a BBC documentary about PM Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party using emergency laws.
The Senators’ letter also draws attention to a report from the US-based Early Warning Project, established by the US Holocaust Memorial, which ranks India as eighth among countries that are at the highest risk of mass killings in 2022 and 2023. They shared the report’s assertion that India’s Hindu nationalist-led government has been systematically discriminating against the country’s Muslim minority with mounting reports of violence and hate speech met with impunity.