In Melinda Gates’ words: “Black Lives Matter. We cannot allow systemic racism to go unnamed or unchallenged. Above all, we cannot turn away.” You can read the full statement here.
Here is the problem:
When Bill and Melinda Gates were asked to do something about police and military violence in another country, they looked the other way. Not only that, but the Gates gave an award to the politician responsible for the violence.
We are talking about the Gates Foundation award to Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India.
In August of 2019, Prime Minister Modi’s government imposed a massive military crackdown on the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir. Thousands of Kashmiri people were arrested — civilians, critics, journalists, and local politicians. India cut off phone lines and blocked Kashmiri access to the internet. Reports of torture, including of underage boys, emerged from the prison cells run by Indian security forces.
Why? Because India’s government had decided to reinforce its brutal political and military control over Kashmir. Since Modi knew Kashmir’s population would say no, India used its military to shut Kashmiri society down.
And while all this was happening, the Gates Foundation decided to give a humanitarian award to Prime Minister Modi. Please join us in rejecting this decision.
Here in the United States, we should all stand against police brutality, military violence, and white supremacy. But if a public figure says one thing in the U.S. while praising a brutal politician in another country, we have a word for that — hypocrisy.
Bill and Melinda Gates wanted to maintain access to India’s Hindu nationalist government for their Gates Foundation programs. And so they have turned their back on Kashmiris and Kashmiri allies who asked the Gates not to give an award to India’s prime minister while his soldiers were cracking down on Kashmiri communities.
- End their silence and condemn the military and police brutality of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s authoritarian government.
- Rescind their award to Indian Prime Minister Modi.
- Speak out against systemic police and military repression in all countries where the Gates Foundation operates.
For decades, millions of Kashmiri Muslims have lived under what is essentially a brutal Indian military occupation. Indian soldiers and police have committed countless atrocities in their effort to maintain control over Indian-occupied Kashmiri territory and the people who live on it. Torture, forced disappearences, and open violence have been the primary modes of population control since the 1990s. Kashmir is one of the most militarized zones in the world.
This isn’t the first time that Bill and Melinda Gates have been asked to end their silence.
When Indian Prime Minister Modi launched a new crackdown on Kashmiris in August of 2019, one Gates Foundation employee asked Bill and Melinda Gates to take a stand against Modi’s actions.
That former Gates Foundation employee, Sabah Hamid, is a Kashmiri woman in India. And because the Gates Foundation ignored her, Ms. Hamid quit her job and wrote a moving opinion piece in the New York Times:
“The Gates Foundation has chosen to celebrate a single, questionable initiative of Mr. Modi’s government. It has completely disregarded how his politics have filled the lives of marginalized communities in India and the territories it controls with fear and insecurity, let alone that he has transformed India into a majoritarian, Hindu nationalist state.”
If you and I want a world in which all people live free of police and military violence, we must stand together across borders and continents to build it. We cannot allow billionaires to say one thing inside the U.S. while making a very different calculation somewhere else.
Please join us and call on Melinda Gates to end her silence on systemic police and military repression by India in Kashmir — and speak truth to power in all of the countries where the Gates Foundation operates.
We must all do our part to end white supremacy and stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Freedom Forward is deeply committed to the fight against militarized racism here in the U.S. and around the world.
When billionaires like Bill and Melinda Gates turn their backs on communities that suffer from police and military violence, we cannot let them get away with issuing platitudes in support of social justice here in the U.S. while remaining silent elsewhere.