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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