The American Justice Center (AJC), an organization established to bring human rights abusers to justice, has announced the filing of a criminal complaint in Australia against visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his role in aiding, abetting and inciting organized attacks against the minorities of Gujarat state before and during the horrific genocide of 2002.
The lawsuit is being brought under the aegis of AJC, by Mr. Asif Vahora, a survivor of the 2002 massacres, in which over 2,000 people were killed and over 150,000 displaced. The complaint refers to the destruction of “20,000 Muslim homes and businesses and 360 places of worship.”
The complaint against Prime Minister Modi has been lodged under Australia’s “The Criminal Code Act 1995” which provides Australian courts jurisdiction over cases involving crimes against humanity worldwide (Id. §§ 268.117(1) & 15.4). Justifying the prosecution of Modi in Australian Courts, the complaint states that Modi’s actions during February-March 2002 violate sections 268.3,4,5,8 & 9 of Australia’s Criminal Code Act of 1995.
The complaint, lodged with Honorable Robert Bromwich SC, Director Commonwealth Public Prosecutions, Australia, charges Mr. Modi with crimes against humanity and genocide resulting in the killing of more than 2,000 Muslims and displacement of several hundred thousand.
“Our relentless pursuit of justice has now taken us to the Australian shores, where Mr. Modi will have to account for his criminal misdeeds in Gujarat,” said Mr. Joseph Whittington, Jr., President of AJC, and also the 2nd Ward Alderman of Harvey, Illinois.
Mr. Modi’s rise to power comes in the backdrop of increasing persecution of religious minorities in India. In August this year, India’s Christian population, numbering about 24 million, marked the sixth anniversary of horrific anti-Christian massacres in the state of Odisha, considered the worst anti-Christian pogrom of the 21st century. Prominent watch-dog group “International Christian Concern,” reported an alarming rise in the attacks on rural churches in recent months. In May 2014, several villages in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh passed local ordinances banning all non-Hindu religious activities, in effect banning Christianity. Vatican Radio, the Holy See’s official news outlet, reported on the possibility of Christians being “purged,” from villages across three states.
Recently, AJC spearheaded an Alien Tort case against PM Modi during his visit to the United States in September. Following the AJC complaint, a US federal court issued a summons against the visiting PM. The case is currently under review by the US Federal Court. As in the Tort case brought against Mr. Modi in the US, AJC is providing legal support and advice to the survivors in their effort to hold Mr. Modi accountable for the loss of lives and property that was caused by his complicity in the Gujarat massacres.
“Under Australia’s criminal code, mere presence of the accused foreigner in Australia is a sufficient basis for jurisdiction over acts of genocide and crimes against humanity committed abroad,” said Mr. Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to AJC. “Thus it adopts a mode of jurisdiction equivalent to universal jurisdiction,” added Mr. Pannun.
The Gujarat genocide of 2002 was one of the worst episodes of sectarian violence in independent India, and was marked with horrific crimes against humanity, including the rape of several hundred women. Many of the victims were subsequently burned alive. Although the Special Investigation Team (SIT) investigating the mass violence did not prosecute Mr. Modi, an amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court had recommended
Mr. Modi’s prosecution. A case filed by Mrs. Zakia Jafri, widow of slain Parliamentarian Ehsan Jafri, is pending against Mr. Modi in the Gujarat High Court.
The American Justice Center (AJC) is a human rights organization dedicated to holding human rights abusers and perpetrators of mass violence accountable. AJC provides legal aid and support for international judicial redress to victims deprived of legitimate and legal means to justice.
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