Activist Sandeep Pandey returns Magsaysay, US degrees over Gaza conflict
The social activist, associated with the Socialist Party (India), has also chosen to return his dual MSc degrees earned from US universities
Protesting the role of the US in the Israeli attacks in Gaza, social activist Sandeep Pandey on Tuesday announced his decision to return the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award conferred on him in 2002.
The activist, associated with the Socialist Party (India), has also chosen to return his dual MSc degrees earned from US universities.
The Magsaysay award, funded primarily by the Rockefeller Foundation, raised concerns for Pandey due to its association with American foundations. In a statement shared with PTI, he expressed his discomfort with the US’s support for Israel in the ongoing offensive against Palestinian citizens.
“Given the role of US in blatantly supporting Israel in the current offensive against Palestinian citizens, more than 21,500 of whom are dead, and still continuing to sell arms to Israel, it has become unbearable for me to keep the award. I, therefore, am deciding to finally return the award too,” Pandey said in a statement mailed to PTI.
In addition to the Magsaysay award, Pandey has decided to return his dual MSc degrees in Manufacturing and Computer Engineering to Syracuse University and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering degree to the University of California at Berkeley.
“I think the US is one country which respects human rights the most and offers the best freedom of expression, but sadly it is true only within the country,” he stated. He emphasised that his decision stems from the US’s “double standards” in international affairs, particularly its stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said in the statement.
Expressing his disappointment with the US government’s position, Pandey asserted, “I have to take the hard decision because I think the US is singularly responsible for encouraging Israel to continue its aggression against Palestinians contrary to popular world opinion.” Pandey called for the creation of a sovereign state of Palestine and its recognition by the United Nations as crucial steps towards resolving the conflict.
He urged the US to play a mediating role, similar to its past actions, and criticised its failure to address the suffering of Palestinians.
“Creation of the sovereign state of Palestine and its recognition by the United Nations as a full member is essential towards the solution of the problem. But it is strange that the US, which not very long back handed over Afghanistan, much bigger in area, to Taliban on a silver platter knowing very well that it was jeopardizing the civil liberties of common Afghans, especially the women, parrots the Israeli position about Hamas being a terrorist organisation ignoring the fact that Hamas has won an election in Palestine, unlike the Taliban. I feel that it is time to call out the double standards of the US government,” Pandey said in the statement.