tirsdag 6. oktober 2020

Amnesty specialises in hard truths. No wonder Modi froze it out of India

Speaking truth to power has ever been a fraught and dangerous occupation, as Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was recently reminded after he narrowly survived a poisoning plot he says was directed from the Kremlin. Uncounted Kurdish activists languish in jail for challenging Turkey’s modern-day sultan. In Iran, human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh is punished mercilessly for championing women’s causes. In Zimbabwe, Catholic clergy who condemn abuses by Emmerson Mnangagwa’s regime are accused of treason.

When China jailed Ren Zhiqiang, a noted communist party critic who ridiculed emperor-president Xi Jinping as a “clown”, much of the world shrugged. What else to expect from an authoritarian dictatorship sustained by gulags and mass surveillance. But when supposed democracies behave in similar fashion, alarm bells ring. This is now the case with India. Its rightwing populist prime minister, Narendra Modi, has erected an oppressive, Hindu majoritarian power vertical, where inclusive, secular traditions trailblazed by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru once proudly stood.