SAALT calls on Biden campaign to condemn Islamophobia and Hindu Nationalist violence

Recent­ly, legit­i­mate con­cerns have arisen about Amit Jani, the AAPI Out­reach Coor­di­na­tor on Joe Biden’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, regard­ing his con­nec­tions to the BJP and sup­port of the Modi Admin­is­tra­tion, which has unleashed vio­lence aimed at Mus­lims, Dal­its, and oth­er minor­i­ty pop­u­la­tions. Amit Jani was a par­tic­i­pant in SAALT’s Young Lead­ers Insti­tute (YLI) in 2012. We hope that our alum­ni will always take a stand against hate vio­lence tar­get­ing South Asian com­mu­ni­ties in the U.S. and glob­al­ly. 

As a non-par­ti­san orga­ni­za­tion (c3), SAALT is pro­hib­it­ed from tak­ing posi­tions about peo­ple who are either run­ning for elect­ed office and/or con­nect­ed to polit­i­cal cam­paigns. Nev­er­the­less, we are allowed to ask a cam­paign to share its posi­tions on issues of con­cern to our com­mu­ni­ties. Our com­mu­ni­ties have been per­son­al­ly and direct­ly impact­ed by the ris­ing tide of state sanc­tioned anti-Mus­lim vio­lence and dis­crim­i­na­tion in India and Kash­mir as well as in the U.S. We ask the Biden cam­paign to con­demn Islam­o­pho­bia and Hin­du nation­al­ist vio­lence across the world and acknowl­edge the impact it has on South Asian com­mu­ni­ties every­where. 

As an orga­ni­za­tion root­ed in val­ues of dig­ni­ty and inclu­sion, we believe that South Asians hold­ing posi­tions of polit­i­cal influ­ence must be respon­sive to the most crit­i­cal issues in our com­mu­ni­ty, includ­ing Hin­du nation­al­ism and Islam­o­pho­bia. When it comes to hate vio­lence and dis­crim­i­na­tion, neu­tral­i­ty is not an option.

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 Statement on the Rise of Hindu Nationalism

Sep­tem­ber 10, 2019

SAALT is deeply con­cerned by the actions of the Naren­dra Modi gov­ern­ment of India and the impact of its Hin­du nation­al­ist agen­da on not only com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing in the region but also South Asian Amer­i­cans liv­ing in the U.S.  

Reli­gious minori­ties and vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions in the region have faced high lev­els of dis­crim­i­na­tion and exclu­sion in India, par­tic­u­lar­ly after Mod­i’s recent re-elec­tion.  In Kash­mir, res­i­dents are liv­ing under a 37 day com­mu­ni­ca­tions block­ade and being stripped of both their polit­i­cal rights and human rights;  in Assam, the gov­ern­ment has imple­ment­ed a cit­i­zen­ship doc­u­men­ta­tion sys­tem that delib­er­ate­ly excludes near­ly 1.9 mil­lion peo­ple, most­ly Mus­lims;  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, a polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy that is diver­gent from the plu­ral­is­tic prac­tices and beliefs of Hin­duism itself.  Hin­dut­va, or right wing Hin­du nation­al­ism, 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.    

The cur­rent sit­u­a­tion in India, fueled by nation­al­ism and Hin­dut­va, has glob­al impli­ca­tions. For exam­ple, over the past five years there has been a dra­mat­ic increase in the num­ber of Indi­an nation­als seek­ing asy­lum in the U.SPeo­ple seek­ing asy­lum from per­se­cu­tion range from Sikh polit­i­cal activists to LGBT activists to those fac­ing caste oppres­sion. They flee to the U.S. seek­ing refuge from per­se­cu­tion in India, but often face bru­tal con­di­tions upon arrival to the U.S. SAALT works to sup­port asy­lum seek­ers who are caught in a cru­el deten­tion sys­tem. 

South Asians in the Unit­ed States have a respon­si­bil­i­ty to speak up and take action, espe­cial­ly now giv­en the dire sit­u­a­tion in Kash­mir and the upcom­ing trip by Prime Min­is­ter Modi to the Unit­ed States. We urge South Asians to raise aware­ness about the impli­ca­tions and impact of Hin­dut­va, and to lend your voic­es to the cho­rus of peo­ple rais­ing con­cerns. We urge 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.  

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