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Dan Burton: "India Falls Short of a Full-Fledged Democracy"
By HON. DAN BURTON (Indiana)
The House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., Mar. 26, 2003
"a.. Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, the right to self-determination is the essence of democracy. The lack of it is one reason that many of us here in Congress believe India falls short of a full-fledged democracy."
"a.. In Jan. 1949, India promised the United Nations that it would allow self-determination in Kashmir through a free and fair vote. It is now 2003 and this plebiscite has still not been held. India refuses to allow the Sikhs of Punjab, Khalistan, predominantly Christian Nagaland, Muslim Kashmir, and the other nations seeking their freedom from India to exercise their right to self determination through a free and fair vote, the democratic way, despite their claim that there is no support for independence. If not, why not just hold a vote and get the issue behind you?"
"a.. Instead of following the democratic principle of self-determination, India has tried to continue the subjugation of the Sikhs, Christians, Muslims, and other minorities through force. They have murdered over 250,000 Sikhs since 1984, over 200,000 Christians in Nagaland since 1947, over 85,000 Muslims in Kashmir since 1988, and tens of thousands of other minorities, including Assamese, Bodos, Dalits, Manipuris, and Tamils. A report from the Movement Against State Repression [M.A.S.R.] showed that India admitted to holding 52,268 Sikhs as political prisoners under the expired T.A.D.A. law, one of the most repressive laws I know of. T.A.D.A. expired in 1995. Some of these political prisoners have been held in illegal detention since 1984. According to Amnesty International, tens of thousands of other minorities, such as Christians, Muslims, and others, are also being held as political prisoners."
"How can a democratic country hold political prisoners? The State Department reported in 1994 that over 41,000 cash bounties were paid to police officers for killing Sikhs. They picked up human-rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra after he exposed their practice of secret cremations and Mr. Khalra was killed in police custody. Independent investigations showed that the Indian government's forces carried out the massacre of 35 Sikhs in Mar. 2000."
"a.. Recently, the All India Christian Council reported that the government is sending out agents to seek intrusive information about Christians, such as whether they are first-generation Christians and how long they have been in India. This is happening in a country where American missionary Joseph Cooper was severely beaten and had to spend a week in the hospital, then was thrown out of the country for the crime of preaching. Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons were burned to death while they slept in their jeep by militant Hindu nationalists chanting 'Victory to Hannuman,' a Hindu god. Priests have been murdered, nuns have been raped, churches have been burned, and schools and prayer halls have been violently attacked. A Christian festival was ended by police gunfire. Now two states, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, have enacted laws prohibiting conversions to any religion except Hinduism. The survey of Christians is also occurring in Gujarat."
"a.. Gujarat is the state where at least 2,000 and up to 5,000 Muslims were murdered last year, according to Indian newspapers. The press also reported that the government planned the attacks in advance."
"a.. Mr. Speaker, the Council of Khalistan recently issued an open letter detailing these and other Indian government atrocities, repression, and violations of human rights. I urge everyone to read it. India has 18 official languages and it is not one nation. India must stop violating the human rights of minorities and instead follow democratic principles by allowing self-determination for all the minority nations that seek it. That is the only way to bring real freedom, peace, and stability to the region. Until then, the United States should stop its aid with India and Congress should put this country on record in support of self-determination."
" a.. I would like to place the Council of Khalistan's open letter into the RECORD at this time, Mr. Speaker. It will be very informative to my colleagues and the people of this country."