"At what point do we no longer share values with India? Are we waiting for the Muslims in Assam to be put in those camps?"
As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi rubbed shoulders with Henry Kissinger and other former world leaders in India on Tuesday, Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Ilhan Omar questioned State Department officials on U.S. support for the Modi regime during a hearing on Capitol Hill.
Omar took particular aim at the Modi government's recent moves to strip Muslims in the country's northeast state of Assam and the building of camps in the region that critics of the Indian government fear may be used to house those decided as non-citizens by the regime.
"At what point do we no longer share values with India?" Omar asked assistant secretary of state for South Asia Alice Wells. "Are we waiting for the Muslims in Assam to be put in those camps?"
Kashmiris have been restricted from communicating outside their country for 50+ days. In Assam, almost 2 million… https://t.co/0i1utgg2RT— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Rep. Ilhan Omar)1571765993.0
Wells, in reply, said that the U.S. was satisfied that the decisions by the Modi government were legitimate due to the fact that they were legal under Indian law.
"As a democracy, we respect other democracies' abilities to self-police and self-regulate," said Wells.
House subcommittee on Asian affairs chair Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) was unsatisfied with that response.
"A human rights abuse doesn't cease to be a human rights abuse just because it's being done pursuant to the law or court rulings of the country committing the abuse," Sherman said.
Jayapal took issue with the U.S. inaction on India's unilateral invasion and occupation of Kashmir in her remarks.
"I recognize the situation is complex," said Jayapal, adding that, however, "India as the world's largest democracy and a critical ally for the U.S. needs to uphold its commitment to human rights."
While the hearing was taking place in Washington, Modi was hobnobbing with the global elite at the JP Morgan International Council meeting in New Delhi. The prime minister posed with Kissinger, one of the most notorious U.S. leaders whose tenure was marked by scores of deaths across the world due to U.S. military action, particularly in southeast Asia.
@narendramodi How many war criminals and fascists can you fit in one photo (without the camera exploding)? The dea… https://t.co/G8SCUlnfcW— Ben Norton (@Ben Norton)1571759632.0
Modi and Kissinger later posed for a picture with cadre of Iraq War boosters, including former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
Canadian journalist Usaid Siddiqui noted the irony of the photograph.
"A reminder that it was under George Bush, the man who invaded Iraq leaving behind a million corpses, that Narendra Modi was banned from the U.S. for Gujarat," Siddiqui tweeted.
Watch Omar and Jayapal in Tuesday's hearing: