Send a Letter to Minister Mary Ng on Trade Agreement with Indian Government

Canada is failing to uphold human rights standards and principles while engaging in trade negotiations with India. Islamophobia has long been on the rise at an alarming rate in many Indian states.

On March 10 2022, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, Mary Ng, met with her counterpart, Minister Piyush Goyal, in New Delhi. The two discussed working towards an Early Progress Trade Agreement. Minister Goyal of the BJP is someone with known links to the RSS, India’s main Hindu nationalist organization tied to acts of communal violence against India’s Muslims and other communities. The Government of Canada must make it clear that any discussions related to trade and investment must always be grounded in the protection and promotion of civil liberties and human rights in India.

The BJP, in association with the RSS, has instilled fear in India’s Muslim minority community. RSS vigilantes have used violence to promote the BJPs brand of Hindu nationalism. Leading human rights organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have openly criticized the BJP government for inciting hatred and violence. Human rights defenders are harassed, arrested, and arbitrarily prosecuted. The Indian government has suspended the rule of law and the Canadian government cannot stand idly by while it negotiates a far-reaching trade deal.

In February alone, several schools in BJP-run Karnataka state effectively barred Muslim women wearing hijabs from entering through their doors. This follows the 2019 Citizenship Amendment Bill that denied Muslim migrants access to citizenship. That same year saw the Jamia Millia Islamia attack that left 200 students injured by police forces, along with the suppression of civil liberties in Kashmir when internet and communications services were cut. Sadly, the current BJP government has a long history of perpetrating state sanctioned human rights abuses.

We cannot wait for this BJP government to further erode the rights of minority groups in India. Canada cannot enter into a progressive trade agreement with a regime that openly disregards human rights standards. Canada can and must do better.

Canada must make it clear that the rights of minority groups in India are non-negotiable. We cannot reward the Indian government for violating the civil rights of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits and other minority groups.