Bastille Day parade disregards Narendra Modis dismal human rights record :French daily Le Monde


French President Emmanuel Macron is drawing flak within France for inviting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be the chief guest at the July 14 Bastille Day military parade that marks the “triumph of liberty and the democratic will of the people”.

The reason: India’s “authoritarian drift” since 2014.The presence of the Indian Prime Minister as the guest of honour at the Bastille Day parade disregards Narendra Modi’s dismal human rights record,” said an op-ed piece in the leading French daily Le Monde on Thursday, the day Modi landed in Paris.

The article, titled “Narendra Modi has fostered State-sponsored violence for decades”, added: “Narendra Modi, India’s hard-line Prime Minister, will be French President Emmanuel Macron’s guest of honour at the Bastille Day parade…. Can we ignore the fact that India, under Modi’s leadership, is going through a serious crisis, with attacks on human rights activists, NGOs and journalists on the rise? 

“In any event, Emmanuel Macron and his diplomatic corps have made their decision. The complicity between the two leaders is obvious. According to the French foreign ministry, France and India are ‘linked by common values’ and a ‘shared attachment to democracy’. Commonplace language, detached from reality.

“India, the most populous country on the planet, is often bestowed with the pompous title of the world’s largest democracy; France, the land of human rights. Two titles that are today equally detached from reality.”

On the day Modi arrived in Paris, the state-owned television network France 24 carried a piece headlined “Arms, not democratic values, on parade as Macron hosts India’s Modi on Bastille Day”.

It said: “French President Emmanuel Macron rolls out the red carpet for Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the Indian leader picked as guest of honour at this year’s July 14 Bastille Day military parade. But critics warn that by overlooking rights violations and democratic backsliding under Modi’s reign, France is sending the wrong message.”

While the Biden administration was pressured to raise human rights issues with Modi on his recent state visit to the US, the criticism for the invite to the Indian Prime Minister has been sharper in France.

The article went on to say: “Modi’s Bastille Day privilege has sparked questions in France, particularly on his Hindu nationalist administration’s human rights track record. In an op-ed in the French daily Libération, politicians from the Green Party, as well as officials from the Left-wing Nupes alliance, slammedMacron’s guest-of-honour choice.

“While recognising the importance of geostrategic ties and bilateral relations, the column noted that it would take someone ‘either totally ignorant of the subcontinent’s current internal political context, or utterly cynical, to make Mr Modi the guest of honour of the French Republic on its most symbolic day of the year’.”

This narrative has been in play since the visit was announced. A month ago, Jean-Luc Melenchon, head of the radical Left Opposition group, La France Insoumise, had tweeted: “#India is a friendly country. But Narendra Modi, its Prime Minister, is far-Right and violently hostile to Muslims in his country. He is not welcome at #14Juillet (Bastille Day), a celebration of liberty equality fraternity which he despises.”

Reuters quoted the French Ligue des Droits de l’Homme (LDH) rights group as saying on Twitter that “the LDH, concerned about India’s authoritarian turn, denounces this invitation which sends a disastrous signal, negating our democratic values”.

The Associated Press described Macron’s act of rolling out the red carpet for Modi as “staging a seduction campaign”.

The Reuters report said: “Ten personalities, including noted economist Thomas Piketty and former French ambassador to Denmark France Zimeray, implored Macron in a commentary (on) Thursday in the newspaper Le Monde to ‘encourage Prime Minister Modi to end repression of the civil society, assure freedom of major media (outlets) and protect religious liberty’.”

All these articles also detailed the Prime Minister’s public life, particularly his track record in relation to human rights and media and religious freedom

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