Monday, January 18, 2021

Australian High Commissioner’s RSS visit raises eyebrows

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Human rights and political advocacy organisation The Humanism Project has released a letter of concern addressed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison regarding Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell’s meeting with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) this week.

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The top-level Australian diplomat met with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in Nagpur to discuss the organisation’s COVID-19 relief efforts and subsequently tweeted about the meeting from his official Twitter handle on Sunday, 15 November.

“The Humanism Project wishes to express its dismay, shock and disappointment at the
visit by Australian High Commissioner to India, His Excellency Barry O’Farrell to the
headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)”, the letter remarked referring to the tweet posted by the High Commissioner.

The Humanism Project’s letter expressed the organisation’s aversion by stating that the Australian Envoy to India provided “legitimacy to RSS”, calling it “an organization that never made any secret of its love for Adolf Hitler”.

The non-profit’s memo also said that the RSS “runs quasi-militant outfits that have often been charged with participating in communal riots and running campaigns against the
religious minorities of India” and brought up the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons in 1999 at the hands of “Bajrang Dal, whose leader Dara Singh was convicted for the heinous hate crime and murder, in 2003”.

The advocacy group stresses that “it is doubtful that Mr O’Farrell would not have been aware of RSS’s history” when he made the trip to Nagpur, noting that the High Commissioner “would have not only taken the decision to visit the RSS headquarters with due consideration and thinking, he would have also cleared it at the highest level from his own government”.

The Humanism Project’s letter concludes by pleading the Australian government “to not endorse and give legitimacy” to organisations like the RSS, which “fundamentally go against the shared principles that the relationship of our two countries is built upon”.

Former Greens senator Lee Rhiannon also tweeted in response to the High Commissioner’s RSS visit, labelling it as “deeply shameful”.

Moreover, she has endorsed a petition with over 1,400 signatures started by Peter Freidrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs, for the High Commissioner to resign with the hashtag #BarryMustResign.

Writer Sanjukta Basu and journalist CJ Werleman also reacted to the High Commissioner’s RSS visit on Twitter.

READ ALSO: Syd Archbishop: Indian MP must retract false statements about Graham Staines

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Bageshri Savyasachi
Bageshri Savyasachi
Truth-telling, tree-hugging journalist.

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