British actors Riz Ahmed and Jameela Jamil have both been pulled out of an event organized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in where Indian Prime Minister Modi is set to receive the Global Goalkeeper Award.
The boycott of the event is to highlight the ongoing humanitarian crisis in occupied Kashmir, where Indian forces continue to keep the region on lockdown. Prime Minister Modi is set to receive this award on the 24th of Sept when he is due to be visiting the United States.
The Global Goalkeeper Award recognizes a political leader who has “demonstrated their commitment to the Global Goals through impactful work in their country and/or globally”, with Modi being chosen for his work with the Swachch Bharat Mission. The Mission, launched in Oct 2014, aimed to help achieve universal sanitation coverage in India in celebration of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary this year.
They have since built 90 million toilets across the country since launching five years ago.
Numerous academics and activists, however, have been pressuring the Gates Foundation to withdraw this award, especially in light of the recent severe atrocities that have been happening in held Kashmir with India’s revocation of Article 370, which had previously given the valley semi-autonomous rights.
Since India’s clampdown on Kashmir starting Aug 5, there have been a constant communications blackout, indiscriminate arrests, barbaric torture, and multiple deaths by Indian forces.
Kashmiris, both inside the region as well as from around the world, have staged numerous protests highlighting the human rights abuses being committed within the region.
While numerous other speakers are scheduled to attend this awards ceremony, there have been no reports of any others at this point issuing statements of withdraw from the event.
As many Kashmiris continue to suffer under India’s harsh control over their daily lives, it comes increasingly worrying that Modi continues to receive awards like this despite his direct involvement in the atrocities being committed in the region of Kashmir.