India-born Canadian poet Rupi Kaur has turned down the White House’s invitation to attend Diwali celebrations in protest of US President Joe Biden’s response to the Israel-Hamas war.
She took to X and released a politically charged statement, criticising the United States for supporting Israel in the wake of the Gaza attack.
She wrote, “I’m surprised this administration finds it acceptable to celebrate Diwali when their support of the current atrocities against Palestinians represents the exact opposite of what this holiday means to many of us.”
“Diwali is the celebration of righteousness over falsehood and knowledge over ignorance,” she wrote, while further accusing the government of justifying “genocide against Palestinians.”
I received an invite from the Biden administration for a Diwali event being held by the VP on nov 8. I decline any invitation from an institution that supports the collective punishment of a trapped civilian population—50% of whom are children. pic.twitter.com/J3V5om89Se
She continued, “I have always used this day to reflect on what it means to fight for freedom against oppression,” referencing Bandi Chhor Divas, a Sikh holiday commemorating the day the sixth Sikh Guru “helped free 52 political prisoners from unjust imprisonment,” that overlaps with Diwali.
“Today, the American government is not only funding the bombardment of Gaza, they continue to justify this genocide against Palestinians – regardless of how many refugee camps, health facilities, and places of worship are blown to bits,” Kaur wrote.
She highlighted Israel’s attacks on Gaza, by saying, “We have seen Israel use white phosphorous bombs, which Amnesty International says must be investigated as a war crime. We’ve seen footage on CNN of Israeli settlers kicking out and occupying the homes of Palestinians in the West Bank.”
She also asked her South Asian community to “hold this administration accountable,” and encouraged them to “sign petitions, attend protests and boycott.”
“As a Sikh woman, I will not allow my likeness to be used in whitewashing this administration’s action. I refuse any invitation from an institution that supports the collective punishment of a trapped civilian population – 50 per cent of whom are children. Call our reps and say – stop the genocide,” she concluded.
Hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris, the holiday celebration will take place today on 8 November.