New Delhi, June 13: Star Indian woman Grandmaster and former world junior girls’ champion Soumya Swaminathan has herself pulled out her name from the Indian Women's team for the forthcoming Asian Nations Cup Chess Championship to be held at Iran, terming the Islamic country’s law of “compulsory headscarf or Burqa” a violation of her basic human rights.
Notably, Asian Nations Cup (Asian Team) Chess Championship 2018 is to be held at Iran from 26 July - 4 August this year in Hamadan, Iran. Former world junior girls’ champion Soumya Swaminathan was also a part of Indian contingent before refusing to participate in the tournament over the compulsory wearing of headscarf or Burqa in Iran calling it a violation of her basic human rights.
Expressing her disappointment and agony, Soumya Swaminathan on June 9 in a Facebook post said, “I am very sorry to state that I have asked to be excused from the Indian Women's team for the forthcoming Asian Nations Cup (Asian Team) Chess Championship 2018, to be held at Iran from 26 July - 4 Aug 2018, as I do not wish to be forced to wear a Headscarf or Burkha. I find the Iranian law of compulsory Headscarf to be in direct violation of my basic Human Rights including my right to freedom of expression, and right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It seems that under the present circumstances, the only way for me to protect my rights is not to go to Iran.”
Swaminathan further said, “I am very disappointed to see that player's rights and welfare are given such less importance while allotting and/or organising official championships. I understand the organisers expecting us to wear our National Team Dress or Formals or Sporting attire for our games during official championships, but surely there is no place for an enforceable religious dress code in Sports.”
“It is a huge honour for me to represent India everytime I am selected in the National Team and I deeply regret that I will be unable to participate in such an important championship. While we sportspersons are willing to make several adjustments for the sake of our sport, always giving it top priority in our life, some things simply cannot be compromised,” she concluded.
In the year 2016, Indian shooter Heena Sidhu had withdrawn from the Asian Airgun meet in Iran quoting the same reason.