The Chairman of the House of Representatives of the States General
The Hague (The Netherlands)
Date: 11 April 2003
Concerns: answers to questions of the members Dijksma, Eijsink and Koenders (Labour Party) concerning possible persecution and massacre in the Indian state of Gujarat
I herewith like to present to you, also on behalf of the Minister for Development Co-operation, the answers to the written questions posed by the members Dijksma, Eijsink and Koenders about the massacre in the Indian state of Gujarat. These questions were sent in on 12 March 2003 with index number 2020308700.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Mr. J.G. de Hoop Scheffer
Answers of Mr. De Hoop Scheffer, Minister of Foreign Affairs, also on behalf of Mrs. Van Ardenne-Van der Hoeven, Minister for Development Co-operation on questions of the members Dijksma, Eijsink and Koenders about possible persecution and massacre in Gujarat.
Could you provide the Parliament with an overview of the events since mid-2002 that are connected to the persecution of and massacre on Muslims in the Indian state of Gujarat, focussing in particular on:
- the criminal prosecution of the guilty;
- the relief to the victims;
- the position of the Muslim minority in the state in a more general sense;
- reports of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Indian National Human Rights Commission, including the way in which their recommendations have been implemented
- the efforts of the Dutch government, NGO's and the European Commission and its results;
- the involvement of the Indian federal government.
Since mid 2002 I have been informed regularly via the Ambassador about the situation in Gujarat. The Embassy in New Delhi has sent monitoring missions to Gujarat to closely follow the developments (see also as an annexe my letter of 26th of June to ICCO). The findings of these visits are in line with the reports mentioned by you of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Indian National Human Rights Commission.
The state government under the leadership of Chief Minister Modi has done little to prevent the massacres and the recommendations of the earlier mentioned reports have been insufficiently acted upon.
Prosecution of the perpetrators of the murderous assaults is only taking place to a limited extent. Rehabilitation and compensation of the victims does take place, be it also inadequately. There is concern about deliberate and systematic discrimination of and/or exclusion of Muslims. After Modi's election victory in December 2002 the situation apparently seems to normalise while the attention is focusing on economic recovery. Naturally that what happened has left deep scars in society.
The national BJP government has initially adopted a wait an see attitude in relation to the massacres. Apart from that the national Election Commission has critically followed the state elections in Gujarat in December 2002 and had to intervene and correct a couple of times to contribute to a more honest conduct.
A large part of the Dutch aid in Gujarat is concentrated in those areas that have been hit by the earthquake in 2001 and is focused on reconstruction of schools and on drinking water supply. For this additional financial means have been provided at that time. The main objective of this is fighting poverty, especially alleviation of the needs of the victims of the earthquake while at the same time positively paying attention to the prevention of discrimination of Muslims and other population groups. Even though there has been hardly any communal violence in these areas and no indications of discrimination of Muslims in programmes supported by the Netherlands, the implementation was temporised by way of precaution.
The Netherlands has also - in conformity with the recommendations of the report of Human Rights Watch - made funds available to Indian NGO's in aid of rehabilitation and reconciliation projects.
The European Commission implements programmes in the area of health care and supports private organisations. There are no indications that the EU will change its policy with regard to the implementation of these programmes.
What is, in this context, the opinion of the [Dutch] government about the quality of 'governance' in the state of Gujarat and its consequences for the development co-operation relations?
The quality of governance varies. On a number of criteria like the effectiveness of the government administration, transparency and participation of the population Gujarat scores better than the average in India. On the other hand it is scoring bad in the area of human rights and legal security, but it is - compared to other states in India - not alone in this regard.
Good governance is one of the three criteria on the basis of which a decision is made about a structural development relationship. The other two are: socio-economic policy and the poverty situation linked to the need of aid. With good governance there is again a subdivision in six criteria, of which the human rights situation is one. Judging this is not like making a 'snapshot', but relates to the appreciation of multi-annual trends (see for this the letter of 15 November 1998 to the House of Representatives, 26 200 V nr. 8). It can be put on record that the trend with regard to good governance is negative. The Dutch government will continue to closely monitor the human rights situation in Gujarat in order to continue to be able to form an opinion about it.
Are you prepared to suspend the [Dutch] bilateral development co-operation (totally or partially) until the marginalization of the Muslim minority is being stopped and the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are implemented?
At the moment the Dutch government feels obliged to reconsider the whole development co-operation relation with India. This is particularly prompted by the recent presentation of the Indian budget 2003-2004, in which the Indian government has stated that she no longer wishes to maintain a 'government to government' development co-operation relation with bilateral donors.
As a result of the above the future development co-operation with India is momentary under consideration. The Parliament will be informed about this in the near future.
Are you prepared to work on a similar approach of the European Union?
The Netherlands has, since the outburst of communal violence, devoted itself in the context of the EU to bring up the issue of Gujarat during bilateral and multilateral fora. Furthermore the implementation of the recommendations in the reports mentioned by you will be closely followed and brought up during bilateral and multilateral consultations.