April 15, 2003
Members European Parliament suggest:
'suspend aid to Gujarat'
Netherlands government criticises human rights situation Gujarat
Four members of the European Parliament from different political parties have asked the European Commission to suspend official development aid to Gujarat till it is clear that those guilty of the massacre on 2000 Muslims are being punished, the victims rehabilitated and an end is put to the marginalisation of Christians and Muslims (Questions European Parliament on Gujarat: www.indianet.nl/v030408e.html). The parliamentarians express their concern that Hindu fundamentalism is leading to increasing violence against religious minorities.
The members of Parliament also want to know if and how the Commission has followed up on the serious concerns expressed last year about the situation in Gujarat. They asked the Commission as well what recommendations they can give to European companies that are active in Gujarat 'in order to avoid that they contribute to the discrimination of religious and other minorities'.
The four parliamentarians are from the four biggest political groups: the Liberal Democrats, the Socialists, the Christian Democrats and the Greens. The initiative has been taken by Mr. Bob van de Bos from the Liberal Democrats.
Netherlands (Dutch) government criticises human rights situation in Gujarat
In its answers of 11 April to parliamentary questions on Gujarat, the Dutch government states that 'the state government under the leadership of Chief Minister Modi has done little to prevent the massacres and the recommendations of the earlier mentioned reports [of the NHRC, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch] have been insufficiently acted upon' (Answers Dutch government to parliamentary questions on Gujarat: www.indianet.nl/a030411e.html). Also it is stated that 'prosecution of the perpetrators of the murderous assaults is only taking place to a limited extent. Rehabilitation and compensation of the victims does take place, be it also inadequately. There is concern about deliberate and systematic discrimination of and/or exclusion of Muslims'. The Dutch government is also of the opinion that 'the national BJP government has initially adopted a wait an see attitude on the massacres'.
Question of Dutch aid to India in limbo
In reaction to the question of the members of parliament if the Dutch government is prepared to suspend bilateral development co-operation with India until the marginalisation of the Muslim minority is being stopped and the recommendations of the NHRC, Amnesty and Human Rights Watch are implemented, the Dutch Minister of Development Co-operation replied that 'the Dutch government feels obliged to reconsider the whole development co-operation relation with India'. This is particularly prompted, it says, by the fact that India 'no longer wishes to maintain a government to government relationship with bilateral donors'. In its Budget Speech of 1st of March the Indian government stated that India wanted to discontinue the receipt of aid of countries with 'smaller assistance packages', so that their resources can be transferred to 'specified NGO's' (India Budget Speech: indiabudget.nic.in/ub2003-04/bs/speecha.htm). The Dutch government is however the fourth largest bilateral donor in 2002-2003 with €24 million (appr. Rs. 120 crores).
It could be that e.g. the Dutch relatively pro-Dalit position in Durban, the present actual arms embargo for both India and Pakistan and last (Letter of Dutch Minister on Gujarat to ICCO: www.indianet.nl/br020626e.html) and this years' position on the massacre in Gujarat, is playing a role in the decision of the Indian government to reconsider Dutch bilateral aid. This aid is mainly focussed on social sectors like primary education, drinking water and urban environment in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Gujarat (see: www.holland-in-india.org).
Position of ICN (India Committee of the Netherlands)
The India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN) expresses its solidarity with all victims of the violence in Gujarat, from whatever religion, and with all organisations that are contributing to achieve justice for all. ICN is shocked about and condemns the lack of (access) to justice, rehabilitation and compensation for the victims and survivors in Gujarat as well as the marginalisation of in particular Muslims and Christians in the state.
ICN agrees to the idea that official development co-operation with the state government of Gujarat should be suspended till this situation has clearly changed. It is pleased to see that the issue of human rights violations in Gujarat is clearly on the political agenda of The Netherlands and the European.
Gerard Oonk, co-ordinator India Committee of the Netherlands
Tel. 31-30-2321340; e-mail: email@example.com