Hindu group cautions Mayfair against being an accomplice in inhuman detention practices

Sunita Viswanath, co-founder of Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus.

New York-based Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus has sent an open letter to online ecommerce company Mayfair, urging its billionaire co-founder Niraj Shah to stop selling furniture to the U.S. government for detention centers and other facilities.

“We are writing regarding media reports that your company Wayfair has procured a $200,000 contract with BCFS, a firm that works with the U.S. government to house detained migrant adults and children along the U.S.-Mexico border,” the letter said.

Noting that selling furniture to the government for detention centers and other border facilities is “tantamount to be an accomplice to the inhumane policies of the United States government towards the migrant families,” the letter urged Shah to shelve such business dealings.

“Rather than participate in the United States government’s cruel border policies, we implore you to cancel your business dealings with them,” the letter signed by Sadhana executive board members, including Sunita Viswanath, Aminta Kilawan, and Davanie Singhroy said.

Others who signed the three page letter included board members Samir Durvasula, Nikhil Mandalaparthy, Udit Thakur and Gautham Reddy besides Sadhana advisors, including academics like Dr. Anantanand Rambachan, Professor of Religion, Philosophy and Asian Studies at Saint Olaf College, Dr. Jeffery D. Long, Professor of Religion & Asian Studies, Elizabethtown College, Vineet Chander, Coordinator for Hindu Life and Hindu Chaplain at Princeton University, Raja Bhattar, Assistant Vice Provost and Executive Director of the Center for Identity and Inclusion, University of Chicago and Dr. Shana Sippy, Research Associate in Religion, Women's and Gender Studies, Carleton College.

Quoting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” the Sadhana letter to Shah noted that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

It said, “It is clear that you and your wife Jill resonate with these profound words. You have given generously of your money, time, and effort to build a private foundation which addresses poverty, children’s education, and social needs in the Boston area.

“We are members of Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus. For the past eight years, we have worked to inspire and mobilize Hindu communities in the United States to connect their faith to humanitarian seva (service) in the world. We salute you for your noble philanthropic efforts.”

It said that while as Hindus Sadhana members share “your concern about poverty and human suffering, and your demonstrated commitment to addressing it, Sadhana hopes that “you will reconsider Wayfair’s involvement in the humanitarian crisis at our US-Mexico border.”

The letter ended with a fervent appeal to Shah, saying “the migrants who arrive at our shores are fleeing terrifying situations which are not of their making. We Sadhana members, your brothers and sisters, invite you to be in dialogue and community with us.

“Together, we can draw on the wisdom and teachings of our traditions, and build a world in which all children are, “truly, confidently loved.” We call upon you to remember the vision of Dr. King’s “beloved community,” which is none other than the Hindu vision of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (the world is one family).”’

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