About 400 students from various prestigious institutions in the United States, including Columbia, Harvard, Yale, Stanford Universities, among many others, have issued a statement in support of the protests that have been happening in India against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) since late last week.
“We, students, alumni, and the wider community, at universities across the United States of America, condemn the brutal police violence unleashed against students at Jamia Millia Islamia University and at Aligarh Muslim University on December 15, 2019, as an extreme violation of human rights under the Constitution of India and International Human Rights Law. We express full support with students across universities in India who are peacefully protesting against the recent passing of the unconstitutional and discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act,” the statement says.
“The right of all to express their opinions through the medium of protest is also guaranteed by the number of core international human rights provisions, including the right to free the expression under Article 19 of the ICCPR, which has been ratified by India,” the students write.
“The entry of police and paramilitary into University premises, indiscriminate attacks within the premises of the University including releasing tear gas in libraries, and brutal use of force against civilians is a blatant violation of the law and can only shock the conscience of any democratic society. Students have narrated that police rampaged through hostels and molested women on these campuses. Students from Jamia Milia Islamia were arbitrarily detained at police stations and were denied their constitutional right to access legal representation,” the statement says.
“It is seen in further light of the fact that most victims of this brutality were Muslim, these incidents stand out as shocking instances of targeted violence against a minority group,” it adds.
The signatories also condemned the violence in Assam, reportedly resulting in casualties, and also banning of the internet done by the Indian state.
Expressing concern about the Chief Justice of India terming the protests as riots, the statement says it reduces the events to a simple law and order issue for the police to handle, rather than recognizing the violation of protesters’ rights and the degree of violence they had to suffer.
Some of the demands that the institution talked about are as follows:- They demand the stopping of violence by the police and them leaving the university premises, They demand an immediate, independent investigation into the abuse of power by the Police units that curbed the ongoing protests. They demand that student protestors be allowed to protest peacefully in their available right to protest under the fundamental rights offered under the Indian Constitution.
They call upon officers of the Indian Police and Administrative Services, to fulfill their duty to uphold the Constitution of India, and to resist any political demand to act in abuse of the powers that have been conferred upon them; and, to ensure police forces under their command act strictly in accordance with the constitutional, legal and ethical framework that bind them.
They call on the Minister of Home Affairs, Amit Shah, to immediately take these necessary steps to curb police brutality or resign fast.
The signatories include a few names from Delhi University, and other American educational institutions like Georgetown University Law Center, Boston University, Pratt Institute, The Fletcher School, Tufts University, among others.
Earlier, at least 120 students and affiliates from Harvard University alone had issued a statement expressing solidarity, describing the CAA as against the Indian Constitution’s principles. The University of Sussex students also express solidarity.
At least 120 students and alumni from the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex in the UK have issued a statement of support with the protesters and condemning the police action against protesters.
“We stand against this heavy-handed action taken by police forces and urge the Indian government to take strict action against police personnel. Universities are spaces of critical thinking. They are not spaces where it should be militarized,” the statement said.
They also registered their protest against the CAA and said it was against the secular tenets of the constitution.