Solidarity with students in India from UW students

By: Harshitha Damodaram

We, the undersigned and affiliates, at UW, wish to express our solidarity with the students of  Jamia Milia Islamia (JMI), Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and other universities protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (‘CAA’) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). 

In doing so, we condemn the police brutality and militaristic violence by the Indian state and police troops towards Muslim students and their allies in the violent encounters that have been occurring this past month. 

The presence of paramilitary forces beating students with lathis (wooden sticks) and using teargas in a confined space like a university library, indicates the disregard for international law, human rights of unarmed students, and the university space by the government. 

Article 14 of the Constitution of India, 1950 enshrines “equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India”. 

Article 14 empowers the State to classify persons for the purposes of legislation provided it is based on intelligible differentia (which distinguishes those that are grouped together from others) and bears a rational nexus with the purpose of the Act. 

The Indian Citizenship Act of 1955 sanctions citizenship by birth, citizenship by registration, citizenship by naturalization and citizenship by descent. Religion was not a requirement for citizenship. 

The CAA enables the country to erase similarities by using differences and identify citizens based on the religion they accede to. 

We are distressed by the reports of violence targeting students, professors and journalists on the university campus of Jamia Millia Islamia on December 15, 2019. The right to dissent, which allows for protests, is a pillar of any democracy. 

However, instead of encouraging such public discourse, the government has chosen to violate the rights of peaceful protesters over human rights laws and ensuring justice. 

Therefore, we reject such attempts to stifle dissent. We also condemn the repeated  violence on students and protests in Indian Occupied Kashmir and states of  Nagaland, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and  Arunachal Pradesh.

India is recognized for its diversity, coexistence, embracing and celebrating differences, and appreciating similarities. 

Us students from different religions, cultures, and national backgrounds express our solidarity to student groups and organizations combating state-sanctioned religion-based persecution.  

The vicious project of consistently undermining universities that are meant to be spaces of academic freedom, critical thinking, and dissent is an attack on freedom of expression and the right to education. 

Protecting the university space must remain a top priority for any democratic state. 

We stand in solidarity with the students of Jamia Millia Islamia and AMU for peacefully protesting against this unconstitutional act. 

We stand united in our humanity and refuse to be divided on the grounds of religion, legality, or citizenship. 

We admire their resilience and we want to assure these students that they are not alone in this struggle and moment of crisis.  

We are part of a growing global movement that is committed to the essence of secularism, democracy, and equality and condemn the state’s attempt to inducing fear through violence, surveillance, and deleterious political control. 

Signatory Organizations: 

Racial Advocacy for Inclusion Solidarity and Equity, University of Waterloo.


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