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South Asian Diaspora Organizations Condemn Anti-Hindu Violence in Bangladesh

October 19, 2021

Endorse the Statement Here

We are horrified by the violence committed against Bangladesh’s Hindu community during and after the festival of Durga Puja.

In recent days, Bangladeshi Hindus, who make up around 10 percent of the country’s population, have faced the worst violence in years. The violence erupted on October 15, after a photo went viral on social media, showing a copy of the Qur’an placed at the knee of a Hanuman statue in Cumilla district. In reaction, Muslim mobs attacked Hindu homes, shops, and shrines. This violence spread from the southeast to cities such as Dhaka and Feni, all the way to the northern Rangpur districts. According to the Guardian, over 80 pandals set up for Durga Puja were attacked. In Rangpur district, a mob burned over 20 Hindu homes. According to Amnesty International, seven people have been killed and hundreds injured.

We understand these attacks as part of a growing trend of violence against minorities across South Asia. From Afghanistan to Pakistan to India to Sri Lanka, we have seen how a rise in majoritarian politics and misinformation spread via social media are directly connected to increasing attacks on marginalized communities. We know violence in these countries is mutually reinforcing; attacks on a minority in one country often trigger counter-attacks in another.

Just as we condemn Hindu majoritarian violence against India’s religious minorities and oppressed castes, we stand with Bangladesh’s religious minority communities: Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, atheists, and others, many of whom are also Dalit and oppressed caste communities. We are glad to see that Bangladeshi civil society groups — Hindus, Muslims, and others — have held mass rallies condemning these recent attacks.

We join our comrades at Naripokkho, the Bangladesh Development Initiative, as well as Amnesty International and the United Nations, in demanding accountability and transparency from Bangladesh’s government. Unlike in India, where the ruling party and state institutions are often complicit in attacks against minorities, we are relieved that Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and senior government officials have strongly condemned the attacks. We understand that around 450 people have been arrested in the aftermath of the attacks, and authorities have filed over 70 cases so far. The Ministry of Home Affairs has also transferred police officials who failed to stop the violence.

However, there is much more that must be done. Historically, attacks on Bangladesh’s minorities have rarely been prosecuted. We hope that this time, Bangladesh’s government will ensure justice for all who have suffered in these attacks.

Endorse the Statement Here

Signatories, in alphabetical order:

  1. Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, USA
  2. Aotearoa Alliance of Progressive Indians, New Zealand
  3. AwaazNetwork Facebook Page, UK
  4. Bangladeshi Youth for Social Justice – Toronto, Canada
  5. Boston South Asian Coalition, USA
  6. Coalition Against Fascism in India, USA
  7. Hindus for Human Rights – Australia & New Zealand
  8. Hindus for Human Rights – USA
  9. Hindus for Human Rights – UK 
  10. Indian American Muslim Council, USA
  11. India Solidarity Germany
  12. Peace Vigil
  13. Poetic Justice Foundation, Canada
  14. Red Baraat, USA
  15. Students Against Hindutva Ideology, USA
  16. The Humanism Project, Australia
  17. The London Story, Netherlands

Water is a Human Right

Water, Health and Human Rights: Marking World Water Day, from the U.S. to Palestine

Hosts: Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine, Palestine Museum US

Zoom registration:
bit.ly/water-day-2021 This World Water Day event will feature:
Keynote: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)

Monica Lewis-Patrick, We the People of Detroit
Mahtowin Munro, United American Indians of New England
Wayland ‘X’ Coleman, Deeper than Water
Jehad Abusalim, American Friends Service Committee
Nidal al-Azraq, 1for3.org

Co-sponsoring groups:
1for3.org, Adalah Justice Project, Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, American Friends of the Palestinian House of Friendship, American Friends Service Committee, BDS Boston, Black and Pink Massachusetts, Brooklyn For Peace, Cambridge/Bethlehem People-to-People Project, Cambridge United for Justice with Peace, Centre for Faith, Art & Justice, Dorchester People for Peace, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Eyewitness Palestine, First Baptist Jamaica Plain, GreenRoots, Grassroots International, Human Rights Awareness: Palestine Israel/ MA 3rd Congressional District, Jewish Women for Justice in Israel/Palestine, JVP Action, JVP Boston, JVP New Haven, Massachusetts Peace Action, Middle East Peace & Justice Coalition of Western Mass, Palestine Education Network, Palestine Foundation, Palestine Museum, Peace and Social Justice Committee of Friends Meeting at Cambridge, Rebuilding Alliance, Tree of Life Educational Fund, Tufts SJP, Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East – MA Chapter, United American Indians of New England, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Vermonters for Justice in Palestine, Virginia Coalition for Human Rights, Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment, We the People of Detroit.

One -Year Anniversary Rally against NRC/CAA – Dec 12, 2020

Where: Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA.

When: Saturday, December 12, 2020 at 4:00 PM EST

The National Register of Citizens (NRC) of India requires people to produce documents of ancestry to be enlisted as Indian citizens. If they are not able to do so, they are to be considered illegal.

Given that such documents are rare for most people, many can lose citizenship.

The bill is coupled with the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Those who cannot prove their citizenship can yet obtain citizenship through this bill – except if they are Muslims.

On the one-year anniversary of this bill, we will gather in Harvard Square to protest and to demand:

Repeal Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019
Withdraw National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR)
Release all anti-CAA activists and Political Prisoners, including Bhima Koregaon 16, who are falsely charged
Arrest all the perpetrators of the Delhi Pogrom

Please join us. Do bring along your poetry, speeches, slogans, and placards of resistance!

Click here for Facebook Event

Addendum:

Brief documentary edited by renowned film maker Anand Patwardhan:

The Servants of God’s Creations in today’s India

Sponsors:

Boston South Asia Coalition
Coalition Against Fascism in India
Hindus for Human Rights
Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia

A statement expressing solidarity with the Farmers’ Protest – Nov 27, 2020

Humein Covid se darr nahin lagta, lekin humaare saath jo bhed-bhaav ho raha hai, us se lagta hai” (“We are not afraid of Covid, we are afraid of the discrimination against us”) – NDTV, Nov 27, 2020

The Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia stands unequivocally in support of farmers protesting the three recently passed agriculture-related bills in India.

The protest, which took over two months to plan, has been endorsed by more than 500 farmers’ organizations across the country. 

We stand in solidarity with these farmers’ demand to repeal the new farm bills: The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance, and The Farm Services and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act. These Acts will deprive farmers of the guaranteed minimum support price for their produce and open the flood gates to the entry of big private capital in India’s agricultural sector. Privatization of key aspects of agricultural production and distribution will play havoc with the already fragile food security situation in the country.

The Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia joins the farmers in demanding that these three agriculture-related bills be immediately repealed.

Read details of each bill issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice

Indian Diaspora in US Stand In Solidarity with the Farmers

NRIs Rally in Support of Punjab Farmers Over Contested Farm Bills

A selection of news outlets covering the farmers’ protest:

A letter to the Prime Minister by the National Alliance of People’s Movements

Delhi Is Cut Off From Ground Reality – Farmers’ Protest Is Proof

Farmers allowed to protest in Delhi after tear gas & water cannons, but will remain at border

Centre Relents, Allows Defiant Farmers to Enter Delhi After Massive Stand-Off on Border

Congress, Aam Aadmi Party Workers Vie With Each Other to Help Protesting Farmers

Global Diaspora Alliance Protest

On October 25, 2020, a protest against fascism in India held by various solidarity groups across the world took place. Here are some posters and glimpses from the protest. Scroll down further to view the message of solidarity and the alliance twitter feed.

A statement expressing concern over NIA actions in the Bhima-Koregaon case


View statement and list of signatories

More than a thousand members of the scientific and academic community from universities in India as well as abroad signed a statement expressing the concern over NIA actions in the Bhima-Koregaon case.
”We feel a deep disquiet in the scientific and academic community about the shrinking democratic space in the country.
After the statement was opened for signatures, we received news that the NIA had arrested three cultural activists from the Kabir Kala Manch and also sent a notice to Prof. K Satyanarayana from the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad and the senior journalist KV Kurmanath. These events add urgency to the statement’s call for “the government to immediately end its crackdown on dissidents, release those whom it has arrested in the Elgaar-Parishad case, and instead focus on identifying and prosecuting the true perpetrators of the Bhima-Koregaon violence.”

View statement and list of signatories

Statement Denouncing the Ram Janmabhoomi Celebrations on Aug 5, 2020, at Times Square, NYC

Sign the Petition to Stop the Celebration of Hatred at Times Square, New York City

While the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, the BJP-led government is forging ahead with its dangerous agenda of destroying the syncretic culture of India and compromising the Indian Constitution itself.

An outlandish celebration of the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of Ram Janmabhoomi temple will be on display all day on August 5th in Times Square, NYC, with much extravagance and pomp and show. A section of the Indian diaspora who are transfixed by the BJP-led government have paid huge amounts of money to project the phrase “Jai Shri Ram” in both Hindi and English, portraits and videos of the Hindu deity Ram, 3D portraits of the temple’s design and architecture as well as pictures of Modi laying the foundation stone on several of the iconic Times Square LED screens. This exhortation of a mythical past is a diversion from the real economic and social marginalization of the vast majority of Indian people. The crass spectacle of Hindutva ideology also coincides – deliberately, no doubt – with the first anniversary of the abrogation of the constitutional guarantees of Kashmir’s special status.

The Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia denounces the impending display of economic and political power designed to belittle the people of Kashmir and India’s religious minorities by the Hindutva forces in the US. We stand firmly and proudly with people across the globe who dare to dream of a more just and equitable world.

Sign the Petition to Stop the Celebration of Hatred at Times Square, New York City

Release Varavara Rao

We have watched with growing horror the treatment meted out to the 81 years old revolutionary poet, Varavara Rao by the Indian state. Varavara Rao has been incarcerated in Taloja jail in Mumbai for almost two years. According to the latest media reports and press conferences held by his family, Varavara Rao was exhibiting signs of serious illness, with the inability to walk and deliriousness since early July. It is shocking to learn that it took multiple pleas by his family members and an international campaign for the Taloja jail authorities to even take him to the hospital for treatment where he was diagnosed with COVID-19. Family members who finally managed to see him found him lying on urine-soaked sheets on a hospital bed, alone with no one to take care of him. Even his family members were not permitted to help him.

What happened to Varavara Rao, or VV as he is popularly known, was foretold in multiple petitions that were filed before the court pleading that he is granted bail due to the dire situation in the jail, his age and his underlying comorbidities. Yet time and again these pleas have been rejected.

India has already released thousands of undertrials on bail in order to prevent prisons from becoming COVID-19 hotspots. The Bhima Koregaon undertrials, of whom VV is one, have been accused of political crimes. The cases against them are widely believed to be false. Given that the judicial process in India is grindingly slow, one cannot but conclude that the only reason for their incarceration in these conditions is to ensure that the process itself is their punishment. This callousness of the judiciary and the investigative agencies (the NIA) amount to state-sanctioned custodial torture.

This is the second time in the last few months that VV has been hospitalized, pointing to the increasing precariousness of his health. On May 28th of this year, VV was taken to JJ Hospital, in an unconscious state according to his family members. However, he was returned to jail before he made a full recovery. In only about a month his condition started deteriorating sharply. After pressure from his family and an international campaign by intellectuals and human rights activists, he was again taken to hospital on July 13th when he tested positive for Covid-19.

As is well known by now, COVID-19 carries very serious risks for people above 80. We fear for VV’s life and we call upon the jail authorities, the judiciary, and the police to release him so that his family can provide adequate medical care. The next few days are critical. We call upon the justice and freedom-loving people the world over to stay vigilant and continue to pressure the Indian government to act with humanity.

The lengthening shadows
Have reached the plinth.
Who will answer then
For these lives battered and lost?
— Varvara Rao, from “The Captive Imagination”

Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia