What is your opinion on CAA NRC

Petition against religious persecution by CAA and NRC

On December 11, 2019, a new citizenship law called CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) was passed in India. This controversial law amends the Citizenship Act of 1955 so that migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, whose immigration into India was previously considered illegal, can now more easily obtain Indian citizenship. In principle, there would be nothing wrong with this if it weren't for the fact that the new CAA from 2019 explicitly mentions that Muslims and Muslims are excluded from this regulation.

The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi justified the exclusion of Muslims with the fact that they would not have to suffer from religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and that the CAA should serve to offer refuge only to religiously persecuted people from these three countries in India. It is simply wrong that there are no religiously persecuted Muslim people in these three countries. This argument is also intended to hide the fact that the Indian government systematically excludes Muslim people because of their religion, which incidentally violates the freedom of religion enshrined in the Indian constitution.

A second controversial innovation in India's politics is the National Register of Citizens, or NRC for short. This register is a list of all people living in India who are considered legal or illegal. What began a few years ago in Assam is now to be implemented across India in 2020. In concrete terms, this means that all Indians have to provide documents to prove that they have their roots in India. Anyone who cannot prove this will be declared stateless. It is irrelevant to the Indian government whether someone is actually Indian. The impact of the NRC affects many people who were born in India and whose parents were born in India. In addition, all people who do not have any documents for other reasons such as poverty, relocation etc. also lose their Indian citizenship through the NRC.

Those who lose their Indian citizenship through the CAA and NRC are put in deportation facilities. These are prisons specially built to lock up those people who have lost their citizenship as a result of the changes in the law until they can be deported from India. In these prisons, the Indians, who are imprisoned without any guilt, are exposed to inhumane conditions. They are not getting enough food, let alone medical care.

Violence against peaceful protests

The people of India have been organizing peaceful protests against the CAA and NRC for several months. Members of all religions take part in the protests and sit-in strikes: Hindus, Christians, Muslims, atheists and others stand side by side to ensure that the unconstitutional changes to the law in India are stopped. The protests are led, among others, by Muslim women who risk their lives to ensure that India remains a country for their children and grandchildren where there is religious freedom, social peace and mutual respect.

The Indian government is cracking down on the protests. So, which is also unconstitutional, a ban on assembly was declared in India. Indian police have repeatedly used batons and tear gas against the peaceful demonstrators. There have now been several hundred injured and between 20 and 60 dead, including a little girl. The Indian government is trying with all its might to silence the critical voices. Internet blocks have increased in parts of India, creating the impression that India's government is trying to prevent the rest of the world from finding out about this information.

To intimidate people and prevent them from demonstrating, there was an attack on Jawarharlal Nehru University in India on January 5, 2020, during which female students were also raped. The police did nothing to order unity among the perpetrators.

The petition

To the Members of the European Parliament in Brussels,

We urge the Parliament of the European Union to firmly condemn the heavily criticized Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) recently passed in India and the Indian state's relentless suppression of peaceful protests against this law.

The law, along with the National Register for Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), sets a dangerous precedent by introducing religious affiliation as the basis for Indian citizenship, with the potential to statelessly millions of people. These regulations require people to prove their citizenship through official documents. The inhuman and unjust effects of this requirement will disproportionately affect the poor, marginalized, landless and minorities of India who will not be able to provide evidence or be excluded on the basis of their religion. The elderly, women and children will be hardest hit, which is why there is an uprising across the country among Muslim women who are gathering in large numbers to protest. The amendment to Indian citizenship law, along with the NPR and NRC, violates India's constitutional guarantees of equality before the law and protection by law, and puts many millions at risk of statelessness, mass arrests and unprotected migration, threatening peace and stability in the region and violates the principles of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, to which several European countries are party.

The meaninglessness of the Indian government's claims about the benign nature of the change in the law is demonstrated by who it excludes - Muslims and other ethnic minorities in the region. The change must also be seen in the context of the introduction of the National Register of Citizens (NCR) in Assam, which resulted in the displacement and detention of 1.9 million people.

We watch with horror as we remember and mourn the victims of innocent Indian citizens - from single wage earners to children - who were killed in the disproportionate use of force by the police in suppressing peaceful protests - a core element of democracy. In the state of Uttar Pradesh, Muslims have been the target of violent and illegal police actions, including the torture and humiliation of children. In educational institutions, too, there were violent reprisals against students who loudly spoke out against these measures.

The violent repression of peaceful protests, including the unofficial blocking of the Internet, increasing discrimination on the basis of religious affiliation and the requirement to produce documents that are inaccessible to a large part of the population as a prerequisite for citizenship do not bode well for India's constitutional speech. and freedom of assembly and the right to personal freedom.

They violate the common values ​​of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It undermines the European Union's respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. These values ​​unite all of their member states and have always been the basis of their relations with India.

The European Union must act on the basis of these principles. The time for peace, harmony and solidarity has now come.

We appeal to you, on behalf of those who risk their lives today, not to disappoint their belief in the values ​​enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

We again request the Parliament of the European Union to pass the following resolution on the Indian Citizenship (Amending) Law 2019:

1. To reaffirm its commitment to the common values ​​of democracy, the rule of law, tolerance and respect for human rights,

2. Remind the Indian state of its responsibility to allow peaceful protests,

3. Call on the State of India to initiate an independent and impartial investigation into incidents of violence and brutality across India following the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act,

4. Call on the State of India to repeal the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and

5. Call on the State of India to stop the implementation of the National Citizens Register and National Population Register.

You can sign this petition here.

In order to put a stop to the religiously motivated violence and the riots in India, the #BerlinForIndia initiative has started a petition addressed to the European Parliament. The petition calls on Parliament to draft a resolution against Prime Minister Modi to stop both the CAA and the NRC and to restore freedom of assembly and the right to peaceful demonstrations in India.

It's not just about saving countless lives in India, but also about the values ​​of democracy and religious freedom as such.

Varia Antares is a member of the board of the Kassel-Stadt district association. She works as a freelance lecturer and author.

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