NATIONAL

Call for `genocidal alert' in Gujarat

NEW DELHI Dec. 24. The International Initiative for Justice in Gujarat (IIJG) has called upon the global community to declare a "genocidal alert" in Gujarat, alleging that the genocide that took place in the State had as its backdrop the international `witch-hunt' of the Muslims after the September 2001 terrorist attacks and the global war unleashed by the U.S. and its allies.Releasing a report on a feminist analysis of the genocide in Gujarat entitled `Threatened Existence', here today, the IIJG activists said the many correlations between what happened in Gujarat and the massacres of various cultural, religious, and ethnic sub-groups around the world provided important reasons for convening an international panel, especially in the light of how these attacks in Gujarat had affected women.The activists said that the use of sexual violence as a strategy needed to be specially addressed by the international community.

This was because of the sensitivity of sexual violence, which by its very nature would go completely unnoticed and unpunished unless it had a special focus, they said. Four Indian and five international women's groups that conducted a survey on violence against women in Gujarat last year formed the Initiative.

The Gujarat experience once more highlighted the need to look at sexual violence as a significant engine of genocide.

"We need to understand the genocidal nature of the Hindutva project so as to emphasise the critical responsibility of intervention that lies with both the civil society and the State," the report pointed out adding that when democratically elected governments intervened to hamper the responses by the civil society and the democratic institutions, international actors must intervene — not to replace bodies such as the Indian judiciary or the National Human Rights Commission — but to prevent the further erosion of their autonomy and powers by the ruling party and to ensure that they performed their intended role of acting as checks and balances within the system.

The international community needed to build an international platform and solidarity networks to help struggles of institutions like the United Nations that had been rendered totally inadequate in providing justice to communities and sections of people who had been denied justice either within the nation-states or other nation-states, the report said.

It called upon the international community to investigate and prosecute organisations such as the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Bharatiya Janata Party, Bajrang Dal and the Shiv Sena and the individuals responsible for the continuing harassment and propagation of hate through measures like training militia and planning attacks.

The report called for safeguarding and protecting the social, economic, cultural and political rights of Muslims in Gujarat as per international human rights norms.

Appealing to the Indian judiciary to transfer all major cases of carnage outside Gujarat, the report recommended establishment of special independent courts and appointment of special prosecutors to try the crimes committed in the State.

"The civil society must demand legislative changes required to secure justice while opposing the Draconian laws like the Prevention of Terrorism Act which target minorities once again," the report said.

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