• To sign the letter, click here.
After meeting with the executive of “Labour Friends of India” (LFIN), a group which opposes criticism of India’s current far-right government, Keir Starmer has made comments which are assumed to be a move to distance Labour from its conference policy in solidarity with Kashmir.
“We must not allow issues of the sub-continent to divide communities here.
“Any constitutional issues in India are a matter for the Indian Parliament, and Kashmir is a bilateral issue for India and Pakistan to resolve peacefully.”
In a joint press statement between the Labour Leadership and LFIN, Starmer added;
“A Labour Government under my leadership will be determined to build even stronger business links with India.”
Last year’s Labour Party conference passed an emergency motion in opposition to Indian state oppression in Kashmir and in support of self-determination. To move away from the position is undemocratic and a far cry from the internationalism Starmer claims is at the heart of the party.
This follows a campaign orchestrated by the Indian government-linked far right – who campaigned in the UK general election to smear Labour as “anti-Indian” and “anti-Hindu”, and pit different religious communities against each other. To equate support for the Modi government and its actions in Kashmir to “India” and the “British Indian community” is to treat British Indians and the 1.4 billion population of India as a homogenous block supporting the Hindu far right. This is clearly untrue and is a betrayal of our comrades, including vast numbers of labour movement activists, fighting at great risk for democracy in India.
Please sign this open letter to Keir Starmer calling for the Party leadership to respect our democracy and conference policy, and to show it is serious about the fight for human rights, including in Kashmir.
Labour must campaign for its democratically-agreed 2019 conference policy of demanding “the restoration of basic human rights and… the right to self-determination” in Kashmir.
We were disturbed by Keir Starmer’s declaration, in defiance of party policy, that “any constitutional issues in India are a matter for the Indian Parliament” and his signalling through talk about “business links” and “dialogue” that he wants a rapprochment with India’s far-right government.
He says “Labour is an internationalist party and stands for the defence of human rights everywhere”. For that to be more than empty words, the party must firmly oppose human rights violations everywhere, including in Kashmir; support democracy and the right to self-determination – including in Kashmir; and fight the global nationalist right, of which the Modi regime is a central pillar.
We must not capitulate to the Hindu right’s communalist agitation in Britain, which seeks to divide communities on religious lines while shouting that support for human rights is divisive. We must not abandon our comrades in India fighting for democracy, workers’ rights and the rights of minorities against the Hindu nationalist regime.
We call on Keir Starmer and the party leadership to respect our democracy and conference policy, and to show it is serious about the fight for human rights, including in Kashmir.