In another blow to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's supporters in the United States, the American Express Corporation withdrew its sponsorship for the Asian American Hotel Owners Association convention due to begin Thursday (March 24) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Earlier, Chris Matthews of Hard Ball programme of NBC declined the invitation of the AAHOA to speak at the convention following protests from groups such as Coalition Against Genocide.
Christine Elliott, an official of American Express, conveyed the decision to CAG.
"As you know from our previous communications, our sponsorships at AAHOA's 2005 annual convention included the following three events: an industry issues panel, an awards ceremony and an address by former National Football League quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Unfortunately, a conference that was intended to help promote travel and tourism has become the object of partisan political contention. Therefore, we have chosen to withdraw from the conference," Elliott said.
The CAG welcomed the decision. "By withdrawing its sponsorship for the convention, American Express has set a good example of responsible corporate behaviour," a CAG spokesperson said.
CAG member Biju Mathew observed: "The campaign against Modi is not one of partisan politics, but a campaign for justice. American Express' action sets it apart as a corporation with ethics."
CAG urged the AAHOA leadership to immediately withdraw its invitation and work towards safeguarding the pluralist ethos of India and the economic well being of the Indian diaspora in the US.
In a letter dated March 4, CAG wrote to American Express that the corporation's sponsorship of the event would legitimise a politician who could be held accountable for many omissions and commissions.
The letter was followed by numerous calls, e-mails and faxes from human rights activists, professors, students and other concerned community members to several American Express executives.