AN OPEN LETTER
To the Congress of the United States of America
On December 11th, the world’s largest democracy passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), an illegal and unconstitutional law aimed at excluding Muslims from Indian citizenship. By dividing Indians into Muslims and non-Muslims, the bill explicitly enshrines religious discrimination into law.
Ever since Narendra Modi was elected prime minister in 2014, he and the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have championed a hardline and revisionist brand of Hindu nationalism, known as Hindutva. Hindutva aims to erase India’s diverse myriad of cultures and faiths, redefining the country into a Hindu civilization and promoting violent and exclusionary attitudes toward Muslims. BJP leaders have normalized inflammatory and dehumanising language, such as the BJP current Home Minister describing Muslims as “termites.” The BJP’s parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is a Hindu extremist group that drew inspiration from fascism since its founding in 1925.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill is just the latest of India’s many steps to marginalize its population of 200 million Muslims. The government has imposed 70 years of systematic erosion of autonomy being topped by the communication blockade in Kashmir, and recently released the National Registry of Citizens (NRC), which will strip hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Assam of their citizenship. Those who are not listed on the registry can be put in mass detention camps and made stateless persons. Meanwhile, rates of violent hate crimes against Muslims, such as mass mob lynchings, have increased exponentially across India after 2014.
The goal of this letter is to amplify the civil disobedience movement persisting across India. We stand in solidarity with those who have faced the brunt of horrific state brutality and police violence, particularly the student protesters at Jamia and Aligarh Muslim University. We aim to maintain international pressure on the Modi government and amplify the voices of the protestors risking their lives on the real front-lines—not to lead a movement that isn’t ours. Particularly, as those in the diaspora or unaffected by the implications of the NRC and CAA, we believe that it is our responsibility to stand behind those who are fighting for secularism and democracy. As the Modi government refuses to pay heed to the brave movement in India, we hope that international pressure will help tip the scales in the protesters' favor.
We, concerned students:
Condemn Hindutva ideology and the Modi government’s fascist and exclusionary treatment of Indian Muslims.
Stand in solidarity with the brave civil disobedience movement in India and condemn the horrific police brutality against protesters.
Call for the Indian government’s immediate withdrawal of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Registry of Citizens.
Ask the American House of Representatives to immediately pass House Resolution 745, urging the Republic of India to end restrictions on communications in Jammu and Kashmir and preserve religious freedom for all residents.
Call on the US Congress to formally express disapproval through targeted sanctions on Modi government officials until the CAA and NRC are repealed, and urge the United Nations to pass a resolution condemning India's undemocratic treatment of Muslims and continued police brutality.
We believe that the fight for equal treatment for India’s Muslims is also fundamentally a fight for India’s foundational values of secularism and democracy. This is a fight for the future, which must be led by those who will inherit the future. Therefore, we invited American universities and youth organizations to mark #HoliAgainstHindutva in March of 2020. Holi is the traditional Indian festival of colors, which celebrates the country’s vibrant diversity and culture in a spirit of inclusiveness.
Members of Harvard College South Asian Association
Members of Princeton University's Hindu Society
Bard College at Simon's Rock South Asian Students Association
Members of Stanford South Asian Society
High School Democrats of America: Muslim Caucus
Hindus for Human Rights
*Organizations preceded by "members of" have not signed unanimously*