No one should shake hands with a monster,” speakers tell council
San Jose, CA: Sept. 25, 2015 — “I must warn you that your presence places a stamp of approval on the record of a mass murderer,” Pieter Friedrich told the San Jose City Council at their Sept. 22 meeting as he urged the leaders of California’s third-largest city to boycott a grand reception for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi which is scheduled on Sept. 27 at San Jose’s SAP Center.
In anticipation of Modi’s upcoming tour of the state’s Silicon Valley, a broad spectrum of communities are uniting behind the message that the controversial Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician is unwelcome in the United States. He plans to meet with a number of CEOs of high-power tech corporations (including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Tesla), but protestors of his visit remember that the U.S. State Department previously banned him from entering the country in 2005 under a law prohibiting a visa for any foreign government official “responsible for… particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”
“Modi has been banned. He was barred from coming to the United States because of his human rights record,” said Bhajan Singh during the open forum at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “We want you to sympathize with the citizens of San Jose and the surrounding area, and we request none of you to shake hands with a monster. You can google Modi and you can find out that his people were involved in opening the wombs of pregnant women, killing babies, and broadcasting about it. Being proud about it. No one should shake hands with a monster.”
Speaking until security personnel grabbed his microphone, Friedrich explained: “Modi’s first executive office was as Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001. He soon earned notoriety by orchestrating a genocide that will haunt his political career forever. In 2002, thousands of Gujarati Muslims and Christians were massacred in a three-day pogrom.” He noted Modi is “accused of orchestrating a genocide by the U.S. State Department, by international human rights groups, by members of his own administration, and by police officers who served under him.”
Also voicing concern was an unnamed Muslim man who warned: “He’s going to throw a big huge show. The whole agenda is to basically whitewash himself of what he has done and his party has done back in India.” Mentioning it was his first time ever attending a city council meeting, he said, “One of the main reasons why I came out here today is I was going through a list of the victims of the 2002 Gujarat Riots and I came across the name of a five-year-old victim — a little boy. That made me come out here. I humbly request that you all please boycott this visit. Do not go there because this city prides itself on human rights.”
Stepping to the podium to address the council, Jada Bernard said, “I want you guys to really look at who you’re dealing with. And if you just google Modi and Hindu nationalist, you’ll get to see a lot of the things that have happened within the past.” Bernard previously joined a Sept. 18 press conference hosted by Organization for Minorities of India outside Google’s corporate headquarters, where he asked: “If you’re going to start bringing in Hindu nationalists and their supremacist ideologies to this country, what else are you opening the door to?”
Modi’s grand reception is expected to attract large protests organized by Alliance for Accountability and Justice, Sikhs for Justice, and groups concerned by his record.