Dubious group screens banned BBC documentary on Gujarat Riots in Australian Parliament

Dubious group screens banned BBC documentary on Gujarat Riots in Australian Parliament


On May 24, while Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Australia, a group called ‘We The Diaspora’ screened the controversial BBC documentary on Gujarat Riots in the Australian Parliament House. The Government of India banned the documentary in January 2023. The opening address given was Haroon Kasim followed by the screening of the documentary.

Furthermore, the daughter of jailed former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt, Dr Aakashi Bhatt, spoke at the event on the topic “Gujarat Pogrom and Prime Minister Modi”. It was followed by a panel discussion with Aakashi, Professor Mohan Dutta of the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE), Aakar Patel of Amnesty India and Senator Jordan Steele John and David Shoebridge.

The screening was organised by We The Diaspora in collaboration with CARE, Hindus for Human Rights (Australia and New Zealand), Amnesty International, Periyar Ambedkar Thoughts Circle-Australia (PATC-A) and The Humanism Project.

The group ‘We The Diaspora’

OpIndia tried to find information on the group that organised the screening. We could not find who runs the group or any key members of it. There are several reports on different media outlets that talked about the screening of the film and they all mentioned that SBS News quoted We The Diaspora speaking about the screening.

When we checked SBS News, there was only one report on the screening of the documentary and it had no mention of the group We The Diaspora. The group appears to have no social media presence. There was only one event organised by them which was a screening of this documentary. Maybe the panellists like Aakashi, Aakar and Mohan could explain who these people are.

Meet Haroon Kasim

Haroon Kasim is the founding member of Australia-based anti-Hindu group The Humanism Project. The group was also behind the screening fo the film. A Kashmiri Separatist, Kasim has been close to Khalistani outfits and Jamat-i-Islami’s Kashmir propaganda front Stand With Kashmir. He is also linked to the International Council of Indian Muslims.

When CAA protests were happening, he had said, “The CAA law in India is going to result in a lot of Muslims losing their citizenship. Amnesty International called it the largest statelessness exercise in the history of the world. Detention camps have already been built in Assam. These are very strong similarities with Nazi Germany.”

The problematic background of Aakar Patel

Aakar Patel was the chair of Amnesty International’s India chapter, Amnesty India. The organisation closed its India Chapter closed its shop permanently in 2020 after Indian investigation agencies initiated a probe into FCRA violations and other activities. Since then, Amnesty India is only active on social media and Aakar Patel periodically shows his creepy obsession with PM Modi. In many photographs and posts on social media, Patel has added a bobblehead of PM Modi.

Recently, apart from being involved in the screening of a documentary in Australia, Amnesty India has laid down three demands from the newly elected Congress government in Karnataka that included revoking a ban on cow slaughter, hijab in educational institutions and religious conversions. They also demanded action against Hindus who call for a boycott of Muslim businesses.

Crimes of Amnesty International

There have been several instances where Amnesty International and its Indian chapter have openly worked against India and its people. In a report published in OpIndia in 2019, the connections between Amnesty International India, the British government, and radical Islamists were exposed. The organisation has a history of meddling with the internal affairs of India. It has constantly been trying to falsely project India as a violator of human rights and the ‘oppressor’ of Muslims.

Amnesty India and its former head Aakar Patel kept peddling blatant lies and fake news to portray India negatively. It also campaigned for the arrested Urban Naxals in the Bhima Koregaon violence case. Therefore, its actions are clearly tantamount to foreign interference in the domestic issues of India, and it is only appropriate that strict action is taken against it.

There is an ongoing investigation against Amnesty in India. In October 2022, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) attached assets worth Rs 1.54 crore of Amnesty International India under the anti-money laundering law for alleged violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act making the total attached assets worth over 21 crores. “A provisional order for attachment has been issued under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). With this attachment, the total attachment now stands at Rs 21.08 crores”, the ED said.

According to the reports, the order has been issued against the so-called NGO trust named Indians for Amnesty International Trust (IAIT), in connection with a case involving an alleged breach of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). The ED issued a statement that the organization carried out NGO activities in the guise of services export and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to escape the FCRA laws.

Meet Senator Jordon Steele-John

Senator Jordon Steele-John is a politician at Australian Greens and an advocate for disabled rights. Before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Australia, he, deputy leader of Greens Mehreen Faruqi and Senator David Shoebridge wrote a letter to the Australian PM and Foreign Minister urging them to raise human rights violation issues in India.

In the letter they claimed that the Indian diaspora living in Australia including Punjabis, Kashmiris, Muslims and Sikhs have expressed concern over so-called human rights violations in India and they were worried about their relatives. They accused PM Modi of running an aggressive right-wing nationalist agenda. In another tweet, he claimed PM Modi was a key player in anti-Muslim rights without showing any proof.

Furthermore, they mentioned the 2022 Press Freedom Index 2022 ranking of India that further slipped from the previous year. They also talked about a report called Early Warning Project that ranked India as the eighth country to have the highest risk of mass killing in 2022 and 2023. They quoted the report that claimed Muslim rights were being suppressed in India and there were calls for mass killings of Muslims by religious leaders in December 2021. They also pointed out that Muslim-owned properties were bulldozed by the authorities.

Notably, OpIndia has debunked the Press Freedom Ranking and showed how they used old reports full of misinformation and dubious data to support the ranking.

2022 has passed and almost half of 2023 has already passed. There were no incidents of so-called mass killings of Muslims. However, what happened in India was the opposite. The so-called fact-checker Mohammed Zubair who is the co-founder of propaganda portal Alt News dog whistled against former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma using an edited video from a debate. The situation spiralled into a series of murders of Hindus who supported Sharma. Hindu tailor Kanhaiya Lal from Udaipur was beheaded. Hindu businessman Umesh Kohle was murdered in Amravati.

There were several other incidents where Hindus were killed or threatened if they supported Nupur Sharma. Notably, Sharma is still living away from public life with a bounty on her life. On the other hand, Taslim Ahmed Rehmani, who used derogatory language for Bhagwan Shiv and instigated Sharma to retaliate, is roaming free. Rehmani is a Muslim. He was not even touched. There are no complaints against him. He continued to participate in debates. Sharma, who only retaliated to what he said, has to look over her shoulder for the rest of her life.

Authorities have bulldozed several properties across states and most of them happen to be Muslim-owned. However, the owners of those properties were either encroaching on government lands and/or were involved in criminal activities including riots. Not even a single property was razed without prior notice. Providing half-baked information in the letter to the PM and Foreign Minister shows how propaganda and misinformation against India have deep roots not even in India but also in foreign countries.

Meet Senator David Shoebridge

David Shoebridge is a Greens Senator for NSW. He was one of the panellists in the discussion following the documentary on PM Modi. He was also a signatory of the letter written to the Australian PM and Foreign Minister.

Notably, Shoebridge has been sympathetic to anti-India voices for a long. He appeared in discussions with a group called “Stand With Kashmir” which is linked to Jamat-e-Islami.  Stand With Kashmir (SWK) for example, is considered as “one of the most influential voices in America on the subject of Kashmir.”

It is believed to be backed by Sikh progressivist groups such as Ruthless Collective which was allegedly a British-Canadian Sikh organization. SWK also coordinated with Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI) and the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) to stage a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act in December 2019.

SWK social media accounts and websites are withheld in India.

CARE and Mohan J Dutta

One of the sponsors of the screening was the Center for Culture-Centered Approach to Research and Evaluation (CARE). Its chief at Massey University, Mohan J Dutta has been a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. From whataboutery to straightforward Hindu hate, his tweets are full of propaganda.

In one tweet, he called PM Modi an “Urban Nazi”. When PM Modi raised their voice against attacks on Temples in Australia in March this year, he whitewashed it by calling it “graffiti resisting Hindutva amidst growing Hindutva violence in Australia”. He also took the path of whataboutery and spoke of the murder of missionary Graham Stuart Staines who was killed along with his family. Staines was accused of forced religious conversions in the name of supporting the locals.

Hindus for Human Rights (Australia and New Zealand)

Hindus for Human Rights is an anti-India and anti-Hindu organisation. Its Australia and New Zealand chapter was one of the organisations behind the screening.

In 2022, OpIndia reported that  ‘Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR)’ had been promoting the misleading narrative of ‘Hindu Vs Hindutva’. The same organisation was also seen endorsing the ‘Dismantling Global Hindutva’ event.

HfHR was formed in the year 2019 by two Islamist advocacy groups named Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) and the Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI). Interestingly, the three organisations had formed another outfit called the Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA).

the co-founder of Hindus for Human Rights also runs an organisation named ‘Women for Afghan Women’, which is funded by the Soros Open Society Foundation.

The group CARE has already planned another screening of the documentary on June 24. As the General Elections are approaching in India, anti-India, anti-Hindu and anti-BJP forces are working at full capacity to change the regime at the centre.

The Sanjiv Bhatt saga

Sanjiv Bhatt is a former police officer who claimed that then-Chief Minister Narendra Modi was involved in Gujarat Riots in 2002 and he stopped the police from taking any action against rioters. Furthermore, from time to time, Sanjib and his family have claimed that the Gujarat government and later the Indian government, after Narendra Modi became PM, conspired against Bhatt. His daughter has been a vocal critic of the Modi government and propagated misinformation and lies about Gujarat Riots 2002 on several platforms. Sanjiv Bhatt is currently facing life imprisonment for a custodial death. Our detailed reports on Bhatt can be seen here.


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