indica News Bureau-
The Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA), an umbrella organization of progressive South Asian groups across the United States in coordination with the local Seattle community, on February 4 lauded the City Council of Seattle for having unanimously passed Resolution 31926 denouncing India’s draconian Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The resolution, introduced by Council member Kshama Sawant, besides opposing the CAA and NRC as fundamentally discriminatory and against India’s Constitution, affirms Seattle as a welcoming city and expresses the City Council’s solidarity with Seattle’s South Asian community regardless of religion and caste.
In her introductory remarks before the vote on the resolution, Sawant said, “By approving this resolution, the city council will go on the record opposing religious persecution and Islamophobia, the discrimination, scapegoating and oppression of Muslims, poor people and marginalized communities by the Hindu fundamentalist regime of the Bharatiya Janata Party or the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
Council member Morales added “As a Jew, it was not lost on me that that resolution passed on the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It is important that we stand up for human dignity, for the right of people to find refuge from violence regardless of their religion.”
“We welcome the Seattle City Council’s resolution denouncing the divisive and draconian CAA and NRC. These acts are unconstitutional and designed to disenfranchise several million Muslim, Dalits and other minorities in order to create a fascist state.” said Javed Sikander, spokesperson for the Seattle chapter of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC).
Highlighting the importance of international condemnation, , Executive Director of Equality Labs, Thenmozhi Soundarajan said, “Seattle is leading the moral consensus in the global outcry against the CAA. When genocidal campaigns begin, one important intervention is international condemnation, and the Seattle community feels a deep sense of solidarity with their elected officials, as the time to stand against the Indian government’s Islamophobic policies is now. These genocidal projects happen in the shadows and this resolution highlights the significance of the Seattle City Council standing up for South Asian minorities, Muslims, and caste oppressed communities.”
President of Indian American Muslim Council, Ahsan Khan said,”Seattle City’s decision to condemn CAA should be a message to all who wish to undermine pluralism and religious freedom. They cannot peddle in hate and bigotry, and expect to have international acceptability at the same time.”
At a Congressional Briefing titled “Implications of India’s Citizenship Law (CAA)” in Washington, DC this week, Mr. Harrison Akins, Policy Analyst (South Asia) with the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) rightly stated, “In India today, the freedom of religion or belief is being decimated as individuals are targeted simply due to their religious identity, in violation of India’s own constitution.” Last month, the USCIRF had called for the US Government to sanction India’s Home Minister Amit Shah.
At the same Congressional Briefing, Amnesty International, the world’s premier civil rights watchdog was represented by Francisco Bencosme, Asia Pacific Advocacy Manager. “The CAA, both in structure and in intent, is exclusionary and inconsistent with India’s Constitution and human rights obligation,” Mr. Bencosme said at the briefing. It “may deprive minorities of their citizenship in India. If implemented, this stands to create the biggest stateless crisis of the world causing immense human suffering,” Bencosme added.
The briefing was also attended by John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director of the Human Rights Watch in the U.S. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that India ratified in 1979 “is very clear that you cannot deprive people of their citizenship on the basis of their race, color, descent, national or ethnic origins,” Sifton had said.
Genocide Watch, an independent body that is widely considered to have expertise in the prediction of genocide in conflict-ridden areas around the world, has issued two separate genocide alerts for the states of Assam and Kashmir. Comparisons to Nazi Germany just before the onset of World War II are therefore quite apt.
In Seattle, hundreds from the South Asian community and allied organizations have spoken out against the CAA and NRC, including over 400 people who rallied in Bellevue on January 26. Local organizations API Chaya, Tasveer, Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Washington, Seattle South Asians Building Accountability & Healing (SABAH), Khalsa Gurmat Center Federal Way, Gurudwara of Renton, Gurudwara of Auburn, Gurudwara of Kent, Gurudwara of Bothell, and the Seattle LGBTQ Commission joined national organizations Equality Labs, Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Amnesty International USA, and the Ambedkar King Study Circle in calling for the passage of the resolution. Seattle-area residents recognize that international condemnation will apply pressure on the Indian government to account for the discrimination and violence perpetuated by the CAA and NRC.
AJA has pledged to continue the struggle against India’s repressive policies against minorities and caste oppressed.