Over 52 National, International Orgs Send Letter to Foundation.

(SEATTLE, WA, 9/17/19)- Local civil rights organization CAIR Washington, along with 52 state, national, and international organizations sent a letter to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation today urging them to not award India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at its Goalkeepers event in New York on September 24.

Modi’s record of human rights abuses and Hindu Nationalist agenda includes the occupation of Kashmir, the building of detention centers in Assam to incarcerate over 1.9 million Bangladeshi Muslims, his central role in the 2002 Gujarat massacre, and a general rise in hate crimes against all minorities during his first term as prime minister.

“We’re calling on the Gates Foundation to reconsider this award to Prime Minister Modi, a man with a history of violence against Muslims and other marginalized communities,” Masih Fouladi, Executive Director of CAIR Washington. “This award will further normalize PM Modi’s violent human rights violations in Kashmir, Assam, Gujarat, and other parts of India.”

Fouladi joined local Kashmiri activists in delivering a petition with 100,000 signatures to the Gates Foundation earlier yesterday (Monday). He emphasized the negative impact the award would have on local Kashmiri families in Seattle and across the United States. There is currently a communication lockdown in Kashmir and a rise in violence against Muslims since PM Modi took power.

University of Washington student Maryam Gani’s parents are traveling to Kashmir to visit her grandmother who recently lost her husband (Maryam’s grandfather). Maryam is worried about their safety.

“I’m afraid because I won’t be able to communicate with them once they’re over there,” she said. “It is impossible to communicate with anyone in Kashmir. Individuals within the region cannot reach one another and we have no way of reaching people once they enter the region.”

She says Gates awarding Modi is a “slap in the face” and ironic given the foundation’s stated belief that “all lives have equal value.”

“They are essentially flushing the concerns of hundreds of thousands of people down the drain by awarding Modi this award ,” Maryam said. “Modi is responsible for all the human rights violations that are going on in Kashmir. He shouldn’t be awarded by a philanthropic organization.”

Shazia, a U.S. citizen and Sammamish resident who immigrated from Kashmir years ago has not heard from her uncle in over a month after he recently traveled to the region to receive chemotherapy for his advanced cancer.

“We don’t know if he is alive or getting his treatment,” said Shazia. “There is zero communication because the internet and major means of communication have been shut down ever since 30,0000 armed forces entered the region. Everything has gone dark.”

She said that Modi is, “further dividing people on the basis of religion for his own political purpose rather than uniting the country.”

Priya Rai, a Community Organizer at API Chiya and Hindu-Indian American who joined the meetings with the Foundation, says she is shocked by the decision to award Modi.

“The Gates Foundation is not living up to its principles,” Priya said. “It talks about holding governments accountable for their human rights records, yet here it is rewarding a serial human rights abuser. Modi is intentionally stirring up hate and encouraging violence against religious minorities. He has blood on his hands and Gates want to award him for toilets.”

Media Contact: Jessica Schreindl, Communications Coordinator, 208-290-0500, jschreindl@cair.com


CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.  

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.