Effort led by Human Rights Watch We, the undersigned organizations, call on the United Nations…
Honorable Joseph R. Biden Jr.,
Justice For All congratulates you, and Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris, on winning the 2020 elections.
We are grateful for your commitment to human rights and recall your principled and passionate stand for Bosnian Muslims in the 1990s. You not only recognized the genocide but persuaded the United States government to take action to stop genocide while Europeans were silent witnesses.
Justice For All was born as the Bosnia Task Force, a coalition of all major Muslim American organizations. Working in sync with the National Organization of Women (NOW), we organized rallies in 100 cities for Bosnia and worked on getting rape declared a war crime. Since then we have emerged as a human rights organization specifically interested in genocide prevention.
As early as Fall 2019, we spoke with your policy team about India, Kashmir, Burma, and China: specifically regarding Rohingya, Uighur and other persecuted minority groups.
To protect minority rights, democracy and pluralism, Justice For All has outlined foreign and domestic policy priorities for your administration to move us into a new phase of promoting peace and justice.
These are our expectations of the Biden administration:
Justice For All appreciates President-Elect Biden’s commitment to organize an international summit of democratic leaders to push back against authoritarian practices and violations of human rights. We hope that the organizers of the summit solicit ideas from Justice For All and other human rights organizations. Unfortunately even many democracies are involved in extremely serious violations of human rights–including the world’s largest democracy, India.
International Human Rights
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A genocide determination by the US State Department is a prime recommendation by Justice For All’s Burma Task Force, representing a coalition of 38 Muslim organizations working with an interfaith coalition. Ending this genocide must be a human rights priority for the new administration.
To give the world a clear signal that the United States cares for human rights in the world, we recommend the following:
- Use sanctions, and the threat of sanctions against leaders and military owned businesses to achieve safe and secure return of Rohingyas to their ancestral homeland
- Accept the December 2019 House resolution asserting that the Rohingya people face genocide, with the State Department declaring it as such;
- Work with allies in ASEAN and European countries to pressure Burma to allow safe, dignified, and voluntary repatriation of Rohingya;
- The new ambassador to Burma should emphasize human rights;
- Burma’s GSP status should be cancelled within the first 100 days;
- Call a summit of world leaders on Rohingya refugees;
- Join the Gambian case against Burma at the International Court of Justice;
- Ask Bangladesh to grant refugee status to Rohingyas;
- Allow more Rohingya refugees into the US, especially widows and orphans, and ensure their resettlement as a special class;
- USAID funding should be conditioned on Bangladesh granting full educational opportunities to all Rohingya.
Saving Indian democracy must be an important priority for the administration and this cannot be done without serious recognition of the fact that India is the only country in the world with two genocide alerts, issued by the respected organization Genocide Watch.
An immediate response to India’s disturbing trajectory towards a non-pluralistic society is needed instead of unreserved support to India as an ally in the containment of China.
The administration has a variety of tools at its disposal to bring about positive changes from repressive countries and governments. We ask that these be used in India through high level engagement in their most effective manner.
We would like to see expedited action on the following fronts:
- The US State Department should formally and publicly recognize Hindutva as a non-Democratic and anti-minority ideology that is being promulgated in India. So far the State Department does not even mention this term in its reports on India.
- The administration needs to be cognizant that Hindu supremacy ideology is making inroads in US political circles locally and nationally.
- All bilateral dialogue and any engagement with Indian trade delegations must be made with the presence of a human rights expert. Trade and aid negotiations must refer to clearly defined milestones to protect religious minority populations.
- Implement Leahy laws that prohibit the U.S. Government from using funds for assistance to units of foreign security forces where there is credible information implicating that unit in the commission of a gross violation of human rights
- We must require India to:
- Allow Amnesty International to operate and prevent attacks on other human rights organizations
- Allow the bipartisan United States Commision on International Religious Freedom and other congressional delegations to visit India to freely observe the situation of Indian minorities
- Revoke the religiously filtered portions of the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019, or a complete revocation thereof
- Scrap all plans of implementing the National Registry of Citizens and dismantling of detention centers
- Condemn all attacks against Indian minorities. Rashtriya Swaywak Sangh (RSS) /BJP operatives are to the Modi government what the Sturmabteilung was to the Nazi party
- The United States should declare the RSS, the largest extremist paramilitary organization in the world, modeled after the Nazis, as a terrorist organization
- The United States should investigate RSS operations in the USA
- Several peaceful protestors and Human Rights Defenders have been jailed by Indian authorities under draconian acts such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). A Biden State Department should initiate an independent inquiry into a number of these victims. We recommend investigation of the following three victims persecuted by Indian authorities:
- Father Stan Swamy – An 83-year-old Jesuit worker for tribal people’s rights
- Natasha Narwal – A Hindu activist being held in jail. She was protesting against discriminatory acts introduced in India.
- Khalid Saifi – A Muslim activist being held in jail
China policy is perhaps going to be the defining foreign policy element of the Biden administration, which directly intersects with economy, human rights, democracy, minority rights, and religious freedom concerns.
US trade policies have benefitted China with a surplus that is now being used against US interests. Even worse, China is acting against universal values, by orchestrating a genocide against the Uighurs.
We propose the following:
- All trade negotiations with China must include a human rights expert on Uighurs
- Engage Apple, Google and other American companies to increase their human rights observations while manufacturing in China
- The President must sign the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act into law
- Declare that China is commiting genocide of Uighur and other Turkic people within the first 100 days of a Biden Administration
- Ask the State department to investigate and issue reports on China’s oppression of Uighurs according to the Uyghur Human Rights Act
- Establish a State Department desk on the Uyghur Crisis
- Pressure the International Olympic Committee to change the location of the 2022 Olympics until China adheres to certain standards
- A reformulation of TPP should be considered to increase pressure on China
U.S. policy should stress self-determination for Kashmiri people based on UN Security Council Resolution 47. Kashmir is an internationally disputed territory and not an internal matter of India.
U.S. policy must focus on the end to militarization, an end to communications restrictions, return of youth and children abducted by Indian security forces, resolve the plight of half widows, and the withdrawal of the military from civil areas to cantonment.
The U.S. must also oppose the Domicile Act and New Land Laws which India is using in Kashmir to reduce its indegenous population to a minority.
We recommend that:
- Human Rights experts must partake in all dialogue and trade talks with India
- Reaffirm President Trump’s offer to mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue
- Instruct the US head of the UN mission to support UN Security Council Resolution 47 on Kashmir
- Establish a Kashmir desk at the State Department
- Ask India to allow a US Congressional delegation to visit Kashmir
- Ask India to release all Kashmiri political prisoners
- Demand release of Kashmiri children in Indian prisons
- Ask India to allow media free access to Kashmir
- Ask India to allow human rights organizations free access to Kashmir. Human rights groups working on Kashmir have been bluntly told by India to shut their offices and not do the kind of work they do. Demand the restoration of functioning of their offices and let them work without restrictions.
We are encouraged by your promise to rejoin the World Health Organization, as well as the Paris Climate Accord, on your first day in office.
We also request that the Biden administration also do the following:
- Stop the practice of vetoing UN resolutions regarding Israel’s occupation of Palestine
- Proactively use the UN Security Council to restore the human rights of Palestinians and to put an end to illegal Jewish settlements
- Work towards the US joining the International Criminal Court, beginning with the removal of US sanctions on ICC staff.
- Restore funding for UNESCO, UNWRA and other agencies, while working for reform and transparency of the international system.
- Continue to support International Religious Freedom as an American value
- Appoint a Muslim American as the next Ambassador At Large for Religious Freedom — considering that Christian and Jewish ambassadors have led in this position in the past — advocating religious freedom in 50 plus Muslim majority countries as priority
Domestic Human Rights Policies
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We appreciate your resolve to produce, on the first day of the Biden administration, comprehensive immigration legislation with a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants as well as DREAMers.
We also appreciate your commitment to establish a task force to reunite children and parents separated at the border. We request that the task force be bi-partisan and the President establishes a “Parents Fund” for all Americans to donate to reunification efforts to make a point to the world that America has a heart and that we are capable of doing the right thing.
We also request the following. The Biden administration should:
- Order an audit to discover and rescind within 30 days all the administrative processes and directives initiated by Stephen Miller, the Trump advisor who has undermined the immigration system
- Call an international summit on the state of refugees around the world. The world is facing the largest refugee crisis since World War II
- Increase the legal number/quota of refugees allowed into the country, preferably in the afore-mentioned international summit
- Restore the old citizenship test. Most Americans would fail the new citizenship test imposed by the Trump administration
- End the use of privately-owned immigration detention facilities
- Asylum and detention policies in the US must stop violating human rights
- Train the staff of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as well as Customs and Border Protection in communications for an honorable and welcoming treatment of aliens and visitors to the USA
It is important that the US formally declare an end to the “war on terror” at home and abroad while ensuring security of our country. More than 700,000 American Muslims have been interviewed by the FBI during the war on terror.
It is the “war on terror” rhetoric that has allowed China, Burma, India, Syria, Egypt and other countries to launch their own “war on terror” terrorizing minorities, eliminating due process, and human rights. In many instances it has and is leading to genocidal programmes, against the most vulnerable.
We recommend the following:
- Close the Guantanamo Bay camp prison within the first 30 days signalling the new era in our foriegn policy
- Continue dialogue with the Taliban in collaboration with Pakistan while ensuring that the rights of women are preserved
- All citizens and aliens accused of terrorism should be tried through due process of law
- There should be accountability for past torture practices by the US agencies. Those who destroyed evidence of torture should be removed from positions of responsibility
- Institute a fund to compensate those innocent civilians who have suffered through the war on terror
- Accept the mercy petition of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist. This has remained a major source of conflict with Pakistanis whose cooperation is critical to stabilize Afghanistan
While, ironically, the FBI continues to report that White Supremacists are the number one domestic terrorist threat, American Muslims continue to be a target of suspicion and surveillance by law enforcement.
We ask for the following:
- Declare that the Biden administration will seek to end the law providing for the indefinite detention without trial
- We ask for a commission to be established to assess violations of the rights of Muslim Americans
- The Justice Department should strengthen its programs that watch over the rights of prisoners in the USA. Although all prisoners suffer under a race and class based culture of punishment, Muslim prisoners suffer at the hand of officers in prison who operate with impunity.
- Increase phone, visitation, and correspondence opportunities for Communications Management Units inmates, and ensure they are affordable for family members.
There are serious concerns about the efficacy and counterproductive nature of drone strikes. US drone strikes have injured and killed innocent civilians in targeted countries. US drone strike policies cost considerable and under accounted for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Evidence suggests that US strikes have facilitated recruitment to violent non-state armed groups and motivated further violent attacks. As the New York Times has reported, “drones have replaced Guantánamo as the recruiting tool of choice for militants.”
We ask for the following:
As a major human rights initiative of the Biden administration, initiate development of a comprehensive world treaty to end the use of drones to target and killing people.
- Until a new treaty comes into being, pause all drone attacks outside a Congressionally declared war
- A commission of experts should provide a public report for the past use of drones
We appreciate your commitment to rescind Trump’s Muslim Ban on the first day in office.
The Biden Administration must oppose Islamophobia at home and abroad. Islamophobia has led to genocide and crimes against humanity in several regions around the world and increased hate crimes here in the United States.
We ask for the following in addition:
- End the soft ban used for visa denial to Muslims from around the world
- Take a stronger stand against rhetoric which marginalizes American Muslims
- Stop targeting the US Muslim communities under federal Countering Violence Extremism programs proven to be unscientific and counter-productive
- The Justice Department should issue an annual report about Islamophobia
- End inclusion of Israeli security officers in interrogation of Muslim visitors to the United States at the border
- The Justice Department should develop a report on post 9/11 investigations’ impact on Muslim community’s charities, businesses and lives who still continue to suffer
We appreciate your commitment to implement police reforms, the comprehensive criminal justice reforms and to sign the SAFE Justice Act in the first 100 days in office.
We also request the following:
- Eliminate the use of secret evidence in trials
- Federally fund the Innocence Project to fight for the rights of individual prisoners
- Include Innocence Project in the criminal justice reform process and 8 Cannot Wait in federal policy
- Along with the reforms in the laws of the nation, the President can provide leadership in the implementation of 8 Cannot Wait policies which have already been adopted by over 300 cities
- Remove Qualified Immunity for police officers
- Prioritize investment in community health, education, and housing
- Prisoners’ right to read, write and practice their religion should not be limited
- Make the bipartisan Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act of 2020 into law, a targeted bill that would eliminate the blanket presumption of pretrial detention for most federal drug charges
- Dismantle private prisons- Americans should not be caged for profit
- Reduce prison populations – rehabilitation is better than incarceration
- End cash bail requirements and mandatory-minimum sentencing
- Restore federal investigations of departments that demonstrate a pattern of civil rights violations
- Pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act into law
- Grant a Medical Pardon to Imam Jamil Al Amin