South Asian American Organizations Condemn Violence in Delhi

As members of South Asian organizations in the U.S. that believe in the values of dignity, justice and inclusion for all, we are horrified by the violence targeting Indian Muslims in Delhi this week.  Since Sunday, at least 40 people have been killed and hundreds more injured. We are struck by the heart wrenching footage of Muslims fleeing their homes, stores and homes burnt to ashes, the desecration of mosques and violent attacks by mobs on Muslim communities.

What is most alarming is the role of the police in inciting the violence and the speech of a local politician from the Hindu nationalist BJP party warning protestors of the brutality  that would be unleashed on them if they failed to clear the streets before Trump’s visit. This is state sanctioned violence, as chief officers of the Delhi police stood behind him in solidarity.

 As members of the Diaspora we cannot be silent.

These events are horrifying. And disturbingly, they are not entirely unexpected.  They come after a series of exclusionary and unjust actions targeting religious and caste minorities and vulnerable populations, particularly since the re-election of Modi. 

There have been wide scale protests throughout India since the government passed the inherently discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act, which actively creates an unconstitutional, religion-based criteria to grant citizenship to select immigrants and lays the legal foundation to denaturalize millions of Indian minorities, effectively creating the largest network of concentration camps in the world. The CAA, in conjunction with the National Registration of Citizens (NRC) list, effectively renders India’s 200 million Muslims stateless

In Kashmir, India’s ongoing military occupation has intensified since August 5th, when communications were cut and the region was placed under an intense crackdown. The Indian state has effectively silenced Kashmiris and detained thousands of people including minors and many Kashmiris fear a settler-colonial project that would change the demographics of the region from a Muslim-majority state to a Hindu-majority state.

And across the country, there has been a surge in the number of lynchings of minorities, mostly Muslims, Dalits and Christians, under Modi’s leadership.

The Modi government is implementing a Hindu nationalist agenda, known as Hindutva, or right wing Hindu nationalism, which is rooted in the alarming notion that Hindus are racially and culturally superior to others. Similar to white supremacy, which South Asians (including Hindus) in the United States contend regularly with, Hindutva threatens the rights, bodies, freedoms, and livelihoods of non-Hindus in India. 

These supremacist ideologies implicitly and explicitly sanction hate – and put our communities in danger- both in the U.S. and in the subcontinent.  SAALT has documented more than 542 incidents of hate violence in the U.S. targeting Muslims and those racialized as Muslim since November 2015. 

The current situation in India, fueled by nationalism and Hindutva, has global implications. Over the past five years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of Indian nationals seeking asylum in the U.S. People seeking asylum from persecution range from Sikh political activists to religious minorities to those facing caste oppression. The anti-Muslim measures in India are a part of a tide of rising Islamophobia, and comes as the Trump Adminisration just expanded its own Muslim Ban.

As South Asian organizations working toward building power and capacity with our communities, we urge all South Asian Americans to understand the connections between white supremacy and Hindutva, to unite around human rights, to support policies that uphold dignity and inclusion for all, and to denounce hate violence in all its forms.  

We urge South Asians to: ask their Members of Congress to join Representatives Beyer, Raskin, Omar, Castro, Tlaib, and Jayapal; and Senators Sanders and Warren in condemning the violence targeting Indian Muslims, caste oppressed communities and Kashmiris (including co-sponsoring House Resolution 745); to educate themselves and their own communities about the implications and impacts of Hindutva; and show up to the protests at Indian consulates on February 28th and organize their personal networks, temples, and cultural institutions to defund hate and stop supporting the BJP and RSS now. The time to stop genocide is now. 

Signed,

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)

Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC)

Equality Labs 

Stand with Kashmir

Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR)

Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus 

DesiQ Diaspora (DQD)

Sakhi for South Asian Women

South Asia Solidarity Initiative

Students Against Hindutva (SAH)

Atlanta Kashmiri Community

Alliance of South Asians Taking Action

Burmese Rohingya Community of Georgia 

The Sikh Coalition 

Council Of Peoples Organization 

API Chaya

Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)

South Asians Building Accountability & Healing (SABAH)

India Home

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF)

Chhaya CDC

Coalition of Seattle Indian-Americans (CSIA)

South Asian Workers’ Center – Boston

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)

Jakara Movement

Adhikaar

South Asian Youth in Houston Unite (SAYHU)

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SAALT welcomes new Executive Director and Board Chair

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The SAALT Board is extremely happy to mark the beginning of the new year, the new decade, and this next era for SAALT with exciting news:

We are thrilled to welcome Lakshmi Sridaran as SAALT’s new Executive Director and Simran Noor as SAALT’s new Board Chair.

Lakshmi played a crucial role as SAALT’s Interim Executive Director in the past year, managing the organization’s operations and infrastructure while simultaneously leading on policy and campaigns.

Lakshmi’s strong commitment to SAALT’s mission and specifically to building movements for justice across communities of color was deepened while serving as Director of National Policy and Advocacy at SAALT for over 4 years. She developed SAALT’s policy and legislative agenda focused on immigration, racial profiling, and combating hate violence. During this time, she expanded the scope of SAALT’s coalition partners at the local and national levels, including facilitating more influence for South Asian American communities on Capitol Hill.

Before joining SAALT, Lakshmi served as the Policy Director for The Praxis Project, a national organization focused on health justice in communities of color. Prior to that, Lakshmi spent six years in New Orleans working with directly impacted communities on recovery and economic justice issues immediately after Hurricane Katrina. She comes to the Executive Director role at SAALT with 15 years of experience working in nonprofits and holds a Masters degree in City Planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. in Ethnic Studies from The University of California, Berkeley.

Simran has over a decade of experience working in the public policy and nonprofit worlds to advance racial, social and economic justice. She currently runs her own strategy firm and works with organizations to institute processes and programs to achieve racial equity. She’s a past Race Forward fellow and served as Vice President for Policy and Programs for the Center for Social Inclusion. Simran holds a dual bachelor’s degree in American Studies and Political Science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a dual masters degree in Public Administration and Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania. Simran has served on the SAALT Board since 2017 and her varied expertise in philanthropy, movement building, and organizational development make her ideally situated to move to the position of SAALT’s Board Chair.

“I couldn’t be more excited to support Lakshmi and SAALT in the coming years. We look forward to continuing to position SAALT to be a national leader in visibilizing the issues faced by South Asian communities and working with awesome local and national partners to create more power and justice,” said Simran.

2020 also marks SAALT’s 20 year anniversary. Since SAALT’s inception, the threats and challenges our communities face have diversified, but the need to stand strong, united, and organized against injustice as a community remains just as urgent.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to lead SAALT after being grounded in our communities and the issues we confront over the last five years. I look forward to helping strengthen our movement and shift narratives within and about South Asian American communities,” said Lakshmi.

We are eager to have Lakshmi and Simran provide the leadership this moment calls for as we usher in this new era and we will count on your support to continue to build community power at this crucial time.

Please join us in welcoming Lakshmi and Simran by tweeting welcome messages to them at @SAALTweets, @lsridaran  and @SimranNoo.

Contact: Sophia@saalt.org

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