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Protest against Modi in Vancouver, ‘human rights before trade deals’


Modi protest

Photo by Harjap Grewal

More than 200 people protested against Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in Vancouver yesterday. 

The Globe and Mail reports, “The protesters’ signs carried slogans such as ‘Human rights before trade deals’…”

The newspaper adds, “Community organizer Mustafa Alam said the protest was fuelled by what he described as Mr. Modi’s discrimination against religious minorities.”

And it explains, “Several signs [at the protest] referred to the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002 in which more than 1,000 people, mainly Muslims, were killed by mobs when Mr. Modi was the state’s chief minister. Several human rights groups have accused Mr. Modi’s government of indifference as the killings spread. The Supreme Court of India conducted a special investigation and cleared Mr. Modi of being complicit in the riots, though many think his administration was partly responsible for not containing the violence.”

When Modi was in Ottawa earlier this week, he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper pledged to complete a Canada-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) by September and to continue to work toward the ratification of a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA), both of which would likely contain the controversial investor-state dispute settlement provision. 

Vancouver-based Council of Canadians organizer Harjap Grewal spoke at the protest against Modi yesterday warning against ‘free trade’ agreements that promote corporate rights over human rights and environmental needs.