A Man Who Predicted the Rwandan Genocide Says This Country Is Next

The warning comes after a recent conference where hundreds of religious leaders swore to kill India’s 204 million Muslims.
Rimal Farrukh
Islamabad, PK
india, genocide, stanton
Kashmiris held a large rally outside Queen's Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on August 17, 2019 after the Indian government stripped Kashmir of its special autonomous status. Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

A genocide prevention expert who predicted the Rwandan genocide five years before it happened has warned of the possibility of a similar campaign against India’s Muslims. 

“We are warning that genocide could very well happen in India,” said Genocide Watch president Gregory Stanton in a U.S. congressional briefing on Jan. 12.  

Stanton was alarmed by a conference held in India’s Haridwar city last month where Hindu religious leaders close to the ruling party swore to take up arms to kill the country’s Muslims, in order to create a “pure Hindu nation.” 

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In a video of the event, a member of a Hindu nationalist political party, Pooja Shakun Pandey, said: “If 100 of us are ready to kill two million of them, then we will win and make India a Hindu nation.” 

On Jan. 15, police arrested Hindu monk Yati Narsinghanand Giri for making derogatory remarks against women. Giri was among those who encouraged violence against Muslims at the Haridwar meeting, and will be facing additional charges of incitement.

In 1989, Stanton issued a similar warning to former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana. He told the leader: “If you don’t do something to prevent genocide in your country, there is going to be a genocide here within five years.” In 1994, around 800,000 Rwandan civilians, primarily from the country’s Tutsi population, were murdered by extremists from its Hutu ethnic majority.

In the recent briefing, Stanton said discriminatory policies that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government insitituted in Indian-administered Kashmir and the state of Assam have laid the initial groundwork for genocide. 

In 2019, Modi’s government revoked a law that had granted the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir special autonomous status since 1949. Kashmiri critics have said the move was meant to water down the region’s strong Muslim character and make it more Hindu. New land laws were also introduced, allowing any Indian outside Kashmir to buy land in the state, which was previously prohibited. The law also authorised the Indian army to declare any area as “strategic” for their use against Kashmiri Muslim separatists. In the same year, the government enacted the Citizenship Amendment Act , extending Indian citizenship rights to non-Muslim refugees.

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“We should be aware that genocide is not an event. It is a process. There are early signs and processes of genocide in both of those places,” said Stanton, referring to Kashmir and Assam. Genocide Watch initially warned about the threat of genocide in India in 2002, after some 1,000 Muslims were massacred in the west Indian state of Gujrat.

“At that time, the chief minister of Gujrat was Narendra Modi, and he did nothing. In fact, there’s a lot of evidence that he actually encouraged those massacres,” he added. 

Modi’s nationalist government espouses a political ideology called “Hindutva”, which advocates an exclusively Hindu state. Hindus comprise 80 percent of the Indian population, while Muslims number 204 million, making up 15 percent of the country’s total population of 1.4 billion. 

Since Modi came to power in 2014, India has seen a rapid increase in hate crimes and state policies targeting Muslims and other minorities. “What we have now is an actual member of the RSS, this extremist Hindutva-oriented group, [with] Mr. Modi as prime minister of India. What we have here is an extremist who has taken over the government,” said Stanton. The RSS or the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is a group that spearheaded the rise of the Hindutva ideology in India, and it has heavily influenced the ruling party and Modi's government, which is composed of prominent RSS members.

The government has been criticised for encouraging violence and for remaining silent on the persecution of minority groups waged by religious hardliners. Many critics have fiercely condemned the Modi government’s silence around the recent Haridwar conference.

Syed Zafar Islam, spokesperson for Modi’s government, rejected Genocide Watch’s warning. 

“First of all, the impression they have created is factually incorrect,” said Islam, who happens to be Muslim. “No such things exist as are being portrayed.”

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