OFMI – Proposed Gandhi bust in Georgia protested for Indian icon’s racism

“He thought of Africans as subhuman,” say Gwinnett County residents

Lilburn – Georgia – USA, 08 October 2019. A diverse coalition of residents of Gwinnett County, in northern Georgia, united on 06 October around the common cause of opposing the proposed installation of a Gandhi bust.

“We’re going to stop it from happening,” Cheryle Renee Moses told the local CBS news channel at a rally held in the City of Lilburn’s Bryson Park. The park is the planned location for the proposed bust, which is intended to be installed on October 19. Residents upset about the bust, however, are relying on more than public pressure.

They are hiring an attorney and hope to file a lawsuit to block the bust. Last year, similar action stopped a proposed Gandhi statue in the southern central African country of Malawi. Activists there protested Gandhi for the same reasons.

“Gandhi’s statues are being taken down all around the world,” said Moses, who was the Democratic nominee for Georgia State Senate District 9 in Gwinnett County. “He thought of Africans as being subhuman.

African-Americans are the majority-minority in Gwinnett County, so to put up a statue of a person who was racist against Africans is insulting to many of the citizens that live here. These are their tax dollars going to maintain the erection of a man who cannot stand us.”

On 03 October Dr Charles Steele Jr, president and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, commented on the controversy. “He’s been called a racist here in the last few weeks,” said Dr Steele, speaking from the SCLC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

“The University of Ghana just removed his statue. It’s so deep in terms of racism. You’re talking about America, but it’s all over the world. What we have to do is address it, we have to confront it, and we can’t hide it under the rug.”

The bust, proposed by non-profit Indian Friends of Atlanta, has faced protest for at least the past two weeks. On 01 October, Moses appeared at the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners’s public hearing to speak against the project. Earlier, Jerry Jones and Nanak Singh registered opposition from Organization for Minorities of India at a September 24 Board of Commissioners’s hearing.

“Statues installed around the world have provoked international headlines and protests as many continue to confront the facts of Gandhi’s hard reputation as a racist, sexual deviant, and religious extremist,” said Jones at the September 24 hearing. “Not only did Gandhi harbor racist opinions, but he enthusiastically acted upon them by promoting racism during his time in South Africa.

He demanded segregation of blacks and Indians and even served as a Sergeant-Major in the British war against the black Africans. His efforts in India have been undermined by his sexual abuse of teenage girls from his own family.”

“The world must learn and evolve and reevaluate the people it puts on pedestals,” remarks Arvin Valmuci, a spokesperson for OFMI. “Gandhi was viciously and unapologetically racist against black Africans. Besides the problem of promoting a racist, we must also consider what message putting up a statue of Gandhi sends about how we should treat women.

Gandhi molested his teenage grandnieces while they were in his power. In this age of the Me Too movement, we must listen to the cries of the women who were abused by Gandhi. We stand against all commemorations of Gandhi everywhere because his life represented a rejection of the values of love, peace, and nonviolence.”

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and all Mulnivasi people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity. Visit OFMI.org for more information.

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Organization for Minorities of India – Diverse groups in USA demonstrate against Gandhi’s racism, sexual abuse

USA: 04 October2019. Groups on both the West and East coasts of the U.S. demonstrated against Mohandas Gandhi on 02 October, his 150th birthday, describing the occasions as “150 years of racism.”

At the Martin Luther King Junior Center in Atlanta, Georgia, a group including several African-Americans demanded removal of the Gandhi statue placed at the center.

Jerry Jones, an activist associated with Organization for Minorities of India, displayed placards declaring: “No place for Gandhi in USA.” Another placard held by Jones quoted South African author Ashwin Desai, who stated, “Gandhi believed in the Aryan brotherhood.

This involved whites and Indians higher up than Africans on the civilized scale.” In a 2015 interview with BBC, Desai further said, “You cannot have Gandhi as an accomplice of colonial subjugation in South Africa and then also defend his liberation credentials in South Africa.”

Demonstrators later shifted to Georgia State University to protest a commemoration of Gandhi hosted by Atlanta’s Indian Consulate in collaboration with the Gandhi Foundation of USA.

Previously, on 24 September, Jerry Jones and Nanak Singh represented OFMI at the Gwinnet County Board of Commissioners’ public hearing, where they appeared to register dissent against a proposed bust of Gandhi which the county intends to unveil at Bryson Park, Lilburn, GA on 12 October 2019.

“There is no way there should be statues erected commemorating a man who could not stand Africans,” said Cheryle Renee Moses about the proposed Bryson Park bust.

Moses, who is the Democratic nominee for Georgia State Senate District 9 in Gwinnett County, continued, “I’m sure many other African-Americans and black folks would feel the same way once they are educated on Gandhi’s real beliefs about Africans, about black folks.”

Also on 02 October at the University of California, Berkeley, approximately 20 people blocked the university’s Sather Gate. Holding a large banner declaring, “150 Years of Racism: Happy Birthday, Gandhi,” they chanted slogans such as “down with Gandhi” and delivered short speeches about why they were protesting Gandhi.

“Gandhi is used as a diplomatic weapon by the Indian State,” stated Bhajan Singh, a former director of OFMI. He claimed that the Government of India has expanded its budget to finance Gandhi statues around the world, adding, “They have occupied Kashmir, they have attacked the Sikhs in Punjab, they have attacked Dalits, Christians, and they want to forcefully convert and submerge the traditional Dravidian culture of India into the pro-Aryan culture.”

In an interview with the university’s CalTV, Singh concluded, “He started his career by being the founder of apartheid in colonial South Africa.”

Demonstrators displayed placards calling Gandhi “father of apartheid.” Other placards claimed Gandhi had “hatred of women” and stated: “Gandhi was a sex offender.”

Although Gandhi is widely perceived as a “Mahatma” (Great Soul) and portrayed as an icon of peace, the past several years have brought increased calls for reevaluation of his legacy. In 2014, protests erupted over a proposed statue of Gandhi in London after historian Kusoom Vadgama began a petition alleging that the Indian activist “dishonored women.”

In 2018, a Gandhi statue was removed from the University of Ghana campus after students and faculty began a petition against Gandhi’s “racist identity.” An ongoing campaign against a proposed statue of Gandhi in Malawi has generated almost 4,300 signatures on a petition calling him an “ardent racist.”

“Modi’s years of building upon the false Gandhi propaganda to support the goals of India’s Hindu nationalist movement are being challenged around the world,” comments OFMI’s Arvin Valmuci.

Organization for Minorities of India was founded in 2006 to advance individual liberties of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and all Mulnivasi people of South Asia by encouraging secularism, progressive human rights, liberation of oppressed peoples, and universal human dignity. Visit OFMI.org for more information.