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IMA USA condemns India’s Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens

Last year, on December 11, the Indian parliament, led by the far-right Hindu nationalist Bharatya Janata Party (BJP), passed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The CAA grants Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who are fleeing religious persecution from neighboring countries. However, the law excludes Muslims from these countries, thus effacing the religious and ethnic violence many face in South and Southeast Asia as a consequence of ethnonationalism, imperialism, and warfare - from Rohingya Muslims fleeing religious persecution in Myanmar, to Tamil Muslims fleeing national persecution in Sri Lanka due to civil war.

Alongside the CAA, the BJP is also seeking implementation of a National Register of Citizens (NRC) which would aim to register all citizens of India, requiring them to prove their right to be in India using documentary evidence. The National Citizenship Register was originally implemented in Assam, a border state of India, and it rendered nearly 2 million of its residents stateless. An extension of the NRC to a national level, coupled with the implementation CAA, could effectively make millions more Muslims who have been living in India stateless by excluding them from legitimate pathways to citizenship.

The CAA and NRC must be understood in the context of the Indian government’s broader turn to right-wing Hindu nationalism, in a blatant betrayal of the postcolonial ideals of secular democracy upon which the newly independent nation-state was founded. This includes its effective colonization of Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority region, through the revocation of its constitutional autonomy followed by a military occupation and large-scale repression. It also includes the BJP’s continued suppression of India’s indigenous peoples, which constitute 8.6% of its total population, through territorial occupation and state violence.

Since then, thousands of people have poured into the streets of India in protest, forming a broad coalition ranging from secular university students to Sikh activists and Muslim community leaders. Government repression of these protests has been brutal, with police assaulting unarmed university students and widespread Internet shutdowns to quell dissent. The government crackdown has left at least 22 people dead, hundreds injured, and hundreds more detained.

The International Migrants Alliance – USA Chapter strongly condemns the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Citizenship Register as thinly veiled attempts to legalize religious discrimination against Muslims in India, shore up a settler colonialist “democracy” at the expense of India’s indigenous populations, and threaten the security and autonomy of migrants and refugees. IMA-USA stands against the global resurgence of fascism of which Hindu nationalism is a part, condemning exclusionary visions of community that are built on profound violence. IMA-USA calls for the restoration of autonomy to Kashmir, the restoration of citizenship to those rendered stateless in Assam, sovereignty for India’s indigenous peoples, and stands with the popular movement in India that is fighting to hold the state accountable to the ideals of genuine secularism and peoples’ liberation.

IMA-USA also recognizes the troubling links between Hindu nationalism in India and white nationalism in the United States, both reactionary forms of selective remembering which recast the complicated emergence of nations as the historical provenance of a select few. Both are also settler-colonial nationalisms, with India’s occupation of Kashmir paralleling the genocide of Native peoples upon which the United States was illegitimately founded. Hindu nationalism and white nationalism are, in all their grandstanding appeals to history and authenticity, ultimately movements that diminish the humanity of colonized and enslaved populations.

As such, IMA USA stands in solidarity with the youths, students, workers, and members of Muslim, indigenous, and migrant communities in India who are risking their lives to oppose the CAA & NCR. We support the struggles of migrants, refugees, and allies everywhere fighting back against all forms of oppression and discrimination, imperialism and fascism. Through international solidarity and diligent grassroots organizing, we can build a world where no one is forced to migrate or persecuted for their faith.

Down with the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Citizenship Register!

Down with Islamophobia!

Long Live International Solidarity!

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