Actors Jameela Jamil and Emmy award winner Riz Ahmed have pulled out of an event organised by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation next week to honour Prime Minister Narendra Modi for cleanliness campaign Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan.
In a response to Suchitra Vijayan of Polis Project on Twitter, the actress confirmed the news of withdrawing from the event but said that she will not be commenting further. Jameela wrote, “As I’ve said before, when I publicly discuss world politics, especially when war is involved, I become the recipient of a multitude of death and rape threats. As a survivor, I cannot and will not endure that treatment, so I will not be commenting on any of this.”
As I’ve said before, when I publicly discuss world politics, especially when war is involved, I become the recipient of a multitude of death and rape threats. As a survivor, I cannot and will not endure that treatment, so I will not be commenting on any of this. https://t.co/CaTNK0WnEs
— Jameela Jamil ? (@jameelajamil) September 16, 2019
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation told Huffpost India that the two stars had indeed pulled out of the event. “Jameela Jamil and Riz Ahmed are no longer participating in Goalkeepers,” The foundation told the website.
The Gates Foundation has come under worldwide condemnation for its decision to award Modi at a time when at least 8 million Kashmiris have been forced to live in unbearable conditions with their human rights severely trampled upon. Kashmir has been under lockdown since 5 August when the Indian government abrogated Article 370, a special status on Jammu and Kashmir. Since then, the valley has had no access to communication including internet with a large part facing continuous curfew.
Several international human rights bodies including Amnesty International have expressed concerns on the unspeakable living condition that the Kashmiri population has been forced to live under. An online petition too was launched urging the Gates Foundation to reconsider its decision to felicitate Modi at a time when he’s being accused of gross human rights violations. The petition has been signed by more than one lakh people.
The online petition reads, “The award could not have come at a more awkward time. Genocide Watch has issued a genocide warning for the Indian held Kashmir and the Indian state of Assam. In Kashmir, more than 800,000 Indian armed forces have kept eight million Kashmiris detained in their own homes without phones or internet service for the last month, canceled school for students and are blinding protesters with pellet guns. In Assam, 1.9 million Bangla speaking people have been stripped of their citizenship for being “outsiders”. While Muslims are likely to remain stateless, Hindus are being told not to worry about losing their citizenship as the BJP has introduced the communal citizenship amendment Bill.”