Early signs of ‘Genocide’ in India: What Gregory Stanton told the US Congress and why

In 2016 Genocide Watch had urged the US Congress to sanction and prosecute ISIS. In 1989, Gregory Stanton warned of early signs of genocide in Rwanda, five years before it took 800,000 lives

The so-called 'Dharma Sansad' held in Haridwar
The so-called 'Dharma Sansad' held in Haridwar

Gregory Stanton

In an ‘early warning report’ on November 29, 2021, the US Holocaust Museum indicated that Pakistan, India and Yemen top the list of countries at risk for new mass killing in 2021 or 2022. Barely two months later, on January 12, 2022 the chairman and founder of ‘Genocide Watch’ Gregory Stanton issued a similar warning while briefing the US Congress. “We are warning that genocide could very well happen in India,” said Stanton, alarmed by a conference in Haridwar in late December 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”.

In 1989, Stanton had issued a similar warning to former Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana. In 1994, around 800,000 Rwandan civilians, primarily from the country’s Tutsi population, were murdered by extremists from its Hutu ethnic majority. ‘Genocide Watch’ had initially warned about the threat of genocide in India in 2002, after some 1,000 Muslims were massacred in the west Indian state of Gujarat. Stanton repeated his apprehensions in an interview to Karan Thapar for ‘The Wire’. While Stanton qualified that in India there are merely apprehensions at present, but sounded a note of caution that it would not be the State but mobs of people who would commit genocide—what the sadhus in Haridwar were heard to be instigating.

We should be aware that genocide is not an ‘event’, it is a process; it develops. That is why, in Genocide Watch, what we try to do, is to warn about genocide. We don’t just declare that ‘this is a genocide’, because, I’d say, right now, it is very hard to say - you know - that there’s a genocide in Kashmir, or a genocide in Assam. What there are however, are the early signs and processes of genocide in both of those places, and we believe, that the Haridwar meeting was especially aimed at inciting (such a genocide).

Incitement of genocide is a crime under the genocide convention. And it is law in India that incitement to genocide is illegal. That law must be enforced. There are also other laws in India that can be enforced against the leaders of this…and yet Mr.Modi has not said a word against this.

He has not spoken out against that violence. (He seems to have suggested by his silence), “Oh, it is not my responsibility. It is up to the state, up to the Uttarakhand state…”. The point however is, is that as the leader of India, that he has an obligation, a moral obligation to denounce this kind of hate-speech that specifically calls for the killing of Muslims.

The Genocide Watch Model of the Genocide Process, of the ‘10 Stages of Genocide’ (I should really have called them the ‘10 Processes of Genocide’) begins with ‘Classification’. It begins with trying to exclude people from citizenship. It also includes ‘De-Humanization’, calling people ‘terrorists’ or ‘separatists’ or ‘criminals’ - the kind of language - that was extensively used, in the meeting in Haridwar, and it has been used by the Indian government also, against Muslims. It is polarisation, which includes this anti-Muslim hatred. And it is the kind of preparation that we are seeing, right now, where this de-humanisation is being preached.

So, we are warning, that genocide could very well happen in India. The US Holocaust Museum is right about that.

One of the first genocides that I predicted, way back, in 1989, was in Rwanda, when I lived there, and I could see from the ID cards, which identified Tutsis and Hutus and Twa and so forth, that these cards could be used for genocide. And when I asked the President of the Supreme Court, who was a Hutu himself, “couldn’t you outlaw this, making these ID cards not have these ethnic identifications on them”. He said, “No, we don’t have judicial review here. So, you’re going to have to talk to the President”.

So, I got an appointment to talk to President Habiramane. I went in, we talked. I said, “You know, these ID cards could be used for genocide.” At that point…(and I said, “you’ve got to take these off of the cards”) a sort of mask went down over his face, because he didn’t want to hear that. It turned out, that he was, of course, a leader of some of the genocidal massacres that had occurred earlier in that country.

But as we left that meeting, I said, “Mr. President, if you don’t do something, to prevent genocide in this country, there will be a genocide, here, within five years.”

That was in 1989. The genocide developed. The hate speech developed. All early warning signs developed. And as we know, 800,000 Tutsis, and other Rwandans, were murdered, in 1994. We cannot let that happen in India.”

(Stanton recalled what he had heard Dr Martin Luther King, the American civil rights movement leader, say. ‘We would know who are our friends not by what they say but by their silence)

(This was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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