Europe should give asylum to Edward Snowden.

Why India, Europe should give asylum to Snowden.

Edward Snowden asked 21 nations for political asylum. He got nothing but rejection, proving once again that free speech is just a decorative item for most governments. India’s embassy in Moscow received Snowden’s request for asylum. His request was rejected within hours. Since then, there has been much discussion about India’s generosity over giving shelter to persecuted people—and so then, why not Snowden? India has in the past granted political asylum to Dalai Lama and many other rebels. Some even mention my name in the list.

I am not sure whether I should be considered a political refugee in India. I was thrown out of my country, Bangladesh, in 1994 and found myself landing in Europe. It was difficult for me to live in a place which has a totally different climate, culture and language from where I grew up. Since I knew I couldn’t return to my country, I wanted to come to India. But India kept her doors firmly shut. Towards the end of 1999, I was given permission to visit as a tourist.

I came to India not as a persecuted writer or as an asylum seeker, but as a European citizen. I eagerly chose India’s state of West Bengal as my new home. But when I was physically attacked by Muslim fundamentalists, instead of taking act­ion against them, the government kept me under house arrest. Not only that, I was repeatedly asked to leave the state and, preferably, the country. When a group of Muslim fundamentalists orga­nised a protest against my stay in India, I was thrown out of Bengal, the state that had been my home for years. Finally, the central government took charge and put me in a safehouse. But there was pressure from the Centre too for me to leave the country. I had to leave, but I did not give up. I am now given permission to live in India again. My enemies are just a handful of anti-democracy, anti-equality, anti-women, ignorant fanatics but yet India often hesitates to challenge them.

I’m not surprised India refused Snowden asylum. How can a country give asylum to a person chased by the almighty US when it panics over giving a residence permit to a secular writer? But with India, one underst­ands; it can’t afford to take risks or make any big political mistake now. Indeed, a Eur­opean country should have given Snowden asylum. They have a long tradition of defending writers and journalists. Compared to India, they have a much older, truer democracies, and violation of rights and free speech is a rarity there. It’s time for Europe to show they are not mere colonies of the US. However glorious a past India may have had, it can not afford to face possible US sanctions. If democracy were practised everywhere, and if it were not reduced to mere elections, independent voices from independent countries would have been respected. As it stands, the human species is yet to make the world an evenly civilised place. Until it happens, we ordinary people have to pay the brunt, and have to sacrifice our dignity, honor, rights and freedom.

I really feel sorry for Snowden. If I were a country, I’d have given him asylum.


  1. says

    Europe got stuck in the Bush mentality and stayed there. Shame on each of their governments.

    Snowden warned them of the crimes the US committed against them, yet they stand gormlessly by and support the perpetrators, while snubbing the one person who did the right thing.

  2. giasuddin says

    Thank so much for your courageous post. I agree with you that Europe should give asylum to Edward Snowden. I hope that there must exists a country which can take challenge against USA to give asylum Mr. Snowden. I think that Snowden has nothing committed anything wrong I hats off to Snowden for his courage.
    Snowden made an appeal to the Indian embassy in Moscow, but his appeal rejected then and there. I’m not surprised of it, but I feel disgrace as an Indian. India is not ready to give protection Snowden for not because that he has committed any wrong. His only fault is that he is an American and India does not have courage to take such step which may cause harm to America. I do not know how long our country will serve as a slave of America.

  3. Agni_B says

    A usual fatality of Hindus appeasing cowardice mentality-

    Imagine yourself as a ‘Rohingha Muslim’ or a fugitive from BD- your passport / voting right/ ration
    cards would be on a siver plate. Hindu human rights group/ liberal media.would be busy knocking
    at your door. Missed all these prerogative!.

    Indias so called psychotic Hindu human rights org. should be treated with contempt. They are busy
    demonizing Hindu activist 24/7 but silent on Zakir Naik/ Muslim mullahs / terrorist.
    They believe secularism is ‘appeasement of minority’

    800 + million Hindus are mind-numbing bystanders. Hindu politicians happy to wear burkha in public
    to secure Muslim votes.

    No one expected India would say yes to Snowden. Surprised China Russia also declined.
    Once again all human rights org. simply gone underground including useless Amnesty international
    West treated ‘Aleksandra Solzhenitsyn’ as a state guest, world hero- given noble prize & asylum .
    (ignored when disapprove of west)

    Snowden is not that lucky- he wont B a hero in the west- he is a traitor , they want him in US gulag
    Nothing has changed – business as usual.

    [ Solzhenitsyn & Snowden -both Hero & Traitor at the same time]

  4. smrnda says

    I’m actually surprised that no European country has. As a resident of the US, I’ve always hoped that if European nations started treating us as a pariah nation and in general being openly critical, it might force us to improve. I’m also surprised none would do so just out of pure defiance.

    I mean, come on, Europe has been a safe haven for Roman Polanski.

  5. mmghosh says

    India should have given asylum to Mr Snowden, no question. It is to our shame that we did not, just as we did not give Dr Nasrin asylum.

    • Agni_B says

      Very romantic sentiment. Practical world is very nasty and filled with pitfall – India surrounded
      by many vultures -cant afford to be on the wrong side of mighty powers. India’s policy must be
      judged only on India s core interest & not on any cheap sentiment.

      India never gained anything from its useless non alignment claptrap. Surprisingly, India
      gained vital information from US snooping activity. In this Digital age world just have to
      cope with this menace

      • mmghosh says

        “cant afford to be on the wrong side of mighty powers”

        Heh. India was on the right side of the “mighty powers” in January 1947 – the British Empire of the day was larger than the USA is today. What was the point of independence. might I ask, if we were to remain subservient to the Anglo-American empire of 1947?

        As for remaining on the right side of “mighty powers”, you should remember that in 1971, the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistani tyranny was entirely the result of following a policy of independence and supporting the Bangladeshi people. It did not do Pakistan much good to be a client state of the “mighty powers” of the USA. Do you remember that the US Seventh Fleet physically steamed into the Bay of Bengal to overawe us? And no, the USSR of the day did not lift its finger and come to our assistance with its blue water navy. Neither did the Indian Army after its comprehensive victory stay in Bangladesh to oversee the installation of puppet client regimes in the way that the USA has stayed in Iraq and Afghanistan 10 years after supposedly winning the wars there. That was the right thing to do.

        All of us who live and work in India should celebrate our achievements as an independent nation. Our independence generation leaders, who had learnt the hard way not be subservient, earned the respect of people all over the world. Our current generation of leaders who are learning subservience once again are respected by nobody. It is vain and foolish to think that “mighty powers” have the interests of our people at heart. And, “mighty powers” respect a people who actually have the guts to be independent. To use your own metaphor, vultures only attack a dead carcass.

        We did wrong by not offering asylum to Dr Nasrin and Mr Snowden. It is never right to do the wrong thing.

        • Agni_B says

          Subservient?- no it is called prudence. 1947 India was a colony not a partner of any mighty nation.

          Revise your history lesson. You may have amnesia- Without Russia – India could not dream of being a winner in 71 wars. Indira signed a security / friendship treaty with Russia just before the war.

          [Admiral Dimon Gordon. sent a report to the 7th American Fleet Commander: ‘Sir, we are too late. There are the Russian atomic submarines here, and a big collection of the battleships’. ]

          So 7th fleet was literally neutralized. Brezneve warned China not to get involved. India should forever be grateful to Russia.

          There is no permanent friend/enemy in politics Policy, allies changes with time/circumstances. India (Nehru’s blind strategy) was subservient to its non-aligned / third world/Muslim solidarity policy for a long time. Got nothing in return but backstabbing by third world brothers.

          Earned respect? – All the adulation just have to wait for another day. India need to earn security for her citizen, which is paramount.

          India is not subservient to Anglo/American empire. She is subservient to her home grown ‘minority appeasement policy‘. India has nothing to gain granting asylum to Snowden. It would be self-inflicted wound.

          However praiseworthy it may be, Snowden broke the companies rule, regulation /countries law and he is no Dalai Lama. India has done right on Snowden but wrong on Taslima..

          India must de hyphenate its misguided morality from present day reality

          • mmghosh says

            Of course India had a treaty with the USSR. My point is that the treaty did not get India the support when needed – Pakistan initiated hostilities with a pre-emptive strike on 3rd Dec 1971. The USS Enterprise entered the Bay of Bengal on 11th Dec 1971. The Instrument of Surrender was signed by Gen Niazi in Dhaka on 16th Dec 1971. The Soviet Navy entered the Indian Ocean on 18th Dec 1971, tracking the US Carrier Group, 2 days after the Pakistani surrender. In other words, the presence of the Soviet blue water navy helped us not a whit, whatever the superpower rivalries of the day.

            There is no shame in the staying out of superpower conflicts which are irrelevant to our situation in India. The problem with Mr Nehru’s non-alignment was that it was not truly non-aligned but covertly aligned to the Soviet bloc.

            That there is “minority appeasement” in India is nonsense. The minorities in India have a tough time of it – check out the status of the Manipuris, or the adivasis in Jharkhand and other states, or Muslims in Murshidabad district. Have you ever been to Dumka? Blaming minorities for the ills of governance when most of the positions in the Government and private sectors are taken up by the majority community is a farce.

            As for subservience, indeed we are subservient to the dominant neo-liberal economic nostrums laid down by the IMF. Today we are being asked to accede to OECD-advised relaxation of banking and insurance sector regulations; something that protected us from the global financial meltdown of 2008.

            Asylum is generally granted to people who violate laws in their own country on the call of their conscience. Mr Snowden is supported widely in the US and abroad because he has done exactly that. Dr Nasrin has the courage of her convictions as an atheist which would incidentally have made her a part of India’s minorities – atheists have no part to play in Indian society. An atheist cannot buy buy property or get married in India, for example. But both she and Mr Snowden have not harmed any individual or property. We should respect that.

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