Last week, members of the House’s progressive Sqaud boycotted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech to Congress last Thursday over what they claim are Modi’s human rights record, particularly with India’s Muslim minority groups, the New York Times reported.
In a joint statement last week, Squad members Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) condemned Modi being allowed to address Congress, calling it an “embarrassing spectacle.”
The lawmakers claimed that allowing Modi to speak would undermine Congress’ ability to “advocate for the rights of religious minorities and journalists around the world.”
The Squad members argued that human rights should never be sacrificed on “the altar of political expediency” and asked that other lawmakers “stand in solidarity” with those “harmed” by Prime Minister Modi’s policies.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who also joined last week’s boycott, said in a statement on Twitter last Wednesday that Prime Minister Modi was once denied a US visa due to his participation in deadly religious riots in India and argued that he should not be given the honor to speak before a joint session of Congress.
Ocasio-Cortez argued an invitation to address a joint session of Congress is “prestigious” and should not be extended to someone with a “deeply troubling” record on human rights, especially to someone whom the US State Department “concluded” was “engaged in systematic human rights abuses” of “caste-oppressed communities” and “religious minorities.”
While other congressional Democrats have criticized Modi’s nationalist Hindu policies and his failure to condemn violence against minorities, some were critical of a boycott against a strategic and economic ally of the United States.
California Rep. Ro Khanna, the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India, said Congress needs to “engage,” adding that the Indian government will not be “open and receptive” to what it perceives as Western “lecturing.”