Indo-Canadian human rights activists say India’s Citizenship Amendment Act is an attack on Muslims, call on Canadian government to speak out
January 26, 2020, Vancouver, BC – The British Columbia based Global Peace Society and other BC human rights activist organizations gathered in front of the India’s Consulate General office in Vancouver on Sunday, January 26, 2029 at 9:00 AM to protest the Indian government’s racist and discriminatory “Citizenship Amendment Bill” (CAB), and to condemn the police brutality towards the students on the occasion of 71th Republic day of India in order to remind the Indian Government that the idea of India remains to be one of “we the people”.
The proposed legislation amends India’s citizenship laws to make it easier for those fleeing persecution in neighbouring countries to get Indian citizenship. However, Muslim minorities are not covered under the law which has sparked nation-wide protests in India.
“This law is officially sanctioned discrimination against Muslim minorities who might be seeking refuge in India from neighbouring countries. But it seems that only non-Muslims are protected under this law. Criminals in India seem to have more rights than Muslims do under Narendra Modi’s Hindu supremacist government,” according to Mahwish Yousaf, representative of the Global Peace Society.
Thousands of students across India have taken to the streets in recent days in an uprising against a controversial law. This law inspired a university- led movement in India to collectively condemn the state sponsored violence against the students at JMI, AMU and JNU. The protestors feel the Citizenship Amendment Act is discriminatory and part of a Hindu-nationalist agenda to marginalize India’s 200-million Muslim minority.
The demonstrations were triggered by the police brutality and state sponsored violence at the leading universities in Delhi and the northern city of Aligarh. Police entered campuses and allegedly attacked students inside the library, reading halls and toilets. Distressing videos of the violence have gone viral and have fueled anger across the country. Some students from Jawaharlal Nehru (JNU) said that there was nowhere to hide when masked men armed with iron rods and sticks entered the campus and attacked students and teachers. The violence resulted in 34 people being injured, some seriously, according to police.
“We are calling on the government of India to withdraw the CAB and abide by international refugee covenants which do not place the welfare of one persecuted minority over another. In addition, we are urging the Indian government to halt the National Register for Citizens (NRC) initiative, which also negatively impacts the Muslim minority in India, and has the potential to strip citizenship from tens of millions of marginalized Muslims whose families have lived in India for generations, but who may not be able to produce the required identification documents to prove citizenship,” Yousaf added.
The Global Peace Society and other groups demonstrated in front of India’s consulate are also calling on the Canadian government to speak out and take action to defend international human rights. Yousaf pointed out that “In the Throne Speech Justin Trudeau said that his government would increase Canadian support abroad for democracy, human rights, international law and promote respect for diversity and inclusion. Now is the moment when he can put actions behind those words by defending the human rights of India’s Muslim minority which has been under attack since Modi first came to power.”
The CAB and NRC are the most recent efforts by the Modi government to target and ostracize India’s Muslim minority, who feel like they are under siege in their own homes. Paradoxically, the CAB law was passed on International Human Rights Day, a United Nations designated day when those whose rights are being violated are being remembered. The NRC initiative has already resulted in hundreds of thousands of Indo-Muslims being imprisoned in detention centers due to their inability to provide documents that prove their citizenship.
These laws, as well as the frequent political attacks on Indo-Muslims, are part of a campaign by Modi to promote a hardline Hindu nationalism bordering on fascism. The goal of these attacks is to remake India into a “Hindu first” nation as opposed to a pluralistic one. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet recently expressed serious concerns over “increasing harassment and targeting of minorities — in particular, Muslims.”
“Muslims comprise the largest religious minority in India and reports by Indian and International human rights organizations, as well as the United Nations, have highlighted the officially sanctioned discrimination, violence and marginalization faced by Indo-Muslims. The CAB and NRC laws will only worsen their precarious situation,” says Yousaf.
A memorandum with demands to withdraw the CAA bill and to stop the violence against protestors was delivered to the Indian Consulate in Vancouver during the demonstration on 26 January, 2020.
Jean Swanson, Vancouver City Councillor, also joined the protest and offered a speech against the discriminatory bill, Islamophobia, and abhorable human rights violations in India. “We hope that the rest of the politicians can learn a thing or two from her and speak fiercely against human rights violations around the world.” Yousaf added.
The Global Peace Society is a Vancouver based activist organization dedicated to promoting peace, tolerance, justice, and unity as universal values. It opposes human rights violations across the globe, calls for respect for diversity, promotes integration of different cultural communities, and condemns all forms of discrimination.