Gregory Stanton, President of Genocide Watch
Interviewed by Karan Thapar for The Wire, India.
To view the interview, click on the image above.
One week after briefing the US Congress, where he warned Congress that “genocide could very well happen in India”, the Founding President of Genocide Watch has said he’s asking “the US Congress to pass a resolution that warns that genocide should not be allowed to occur in India”. Dr. Gregory Stanton also said: “(President) Biden should tell (Prime Minister) Modi that if genocide occurs in India, it will require the US to reassess all our relations with India.”
In a 28-minute interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Dr. Stanton said that although his organization, Genocide Watch, does not rank countries, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum believes that, after Pakistan, India is the second most likely country for a genocide to happen in the coming year.
In the interview with The Wire, Dr. Stanton said, “the early warning signs of (genocide) are present in India.” Referring to Genocide Watch’s ’10 stages of genocide’, he said several of the stages have been fulfilled in India. The ones he identified are classification (distinguishing between people as 'us vs. them' and 'othering' them), symbolization (identifying people by the clothes they wear or calling them abba jaan), discrimination (the Citizenship Amendment Act), dehumanization (calling them termites and foreigners who should go to back to Bangladesh) and polarization (accusing them of 'love jihad' and discriminatory laws against conversion and inter-marriage).
On top of all this, he said that at Hardiwar on December 17, there were actually calls for genocide, which he added, were crimes of incitement to genocide under the Genocide Convention, to which India is a signatory.
Dr. Stanton said, “Just because a country is a democracy it’s not impossible for a genocide to happen.” He cited America’s own example where, he said, genocide was carried out against Native Americans and against African Americans during the slave trade.
Dr. Stanton said whilst it’s not his view that genocide is happening in India at the moment, his fear is that the stages that lead to genocide, what he calls the early warning signs, have occurred. “Genocide is not an event. It’s a process. It develops,” he said.
Dr. Stanton said if genocide happens, “it won’t be committed by the state, but by mobs organized by RSS and BJP militants who will lead it.”
Speaking specifically about Prime Minister Modi, Dr. Stanton said he has told the US Congress that he believes the Prime Minister encouraged the 2002 Gujurat massacres of over 1000 Muslims. Modi has also used anti-muslim rhetoric to build his political base. “He has a record, (and) he has to answer”, he said. “He needs to be accountable.”
Speaking about the Prime Minister’s silence – a month has passed since the Dharam Sansad and the Prime Minister has not spoken a word – Dr. Stanton said: “He is the Prime Minister of India. He is the leader of the country. He has a moral obligation to denounce hate speech.” He added, “leaders have a responsibility to not remain silent.”
Asked by The Wire how he interprets Mr. Modi’s silence, Dr. Stanton quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “We will know who is against us not by what they say, but by their silence.”
Asked by The Wire if he was saying Mr. Modi’s silence damns him, Dr. Stanton replied: “It sure does”.
In 1989, five years before genocide happened in Rwanda, Dr. Stanton forewarned the president of the country that maintaining ethnicity on identity cards would become a tool for genocide. He told President Habyarimana that if he didn't prevent it, Rwanda would have genocide within five years. Five years later that is precisely what happened.