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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9/11 Eight Years Later: A Message from South Asian Organizations

NCSO sepia

9/11 Eight Years Later:  A Message From South Asian Organizations
This statement is issued by the following members of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations.

Today, members of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO) join the country in marking the  eighth anniversary of the tragedies of September 11th, 2001. We solemnly remember and honor those who lost their lives or loved ones that day.

Like everyone in America, South Asians in the United States were deeply affected by the events on and after September 11th. From the days and months after the tragedy to now, our organizations have addressed a range of issues in our communities related to the post-September 11th environment – from helping individuals who lost family members or their livelihoods to advocating on behalf of those who faced discrimination, hate crimes, profiling, and arbitrary detentions and interrogations.

Although it has been eight years since 9/11, many of the policies implemented in its aftermath continue to affect South Asians, such as special registration, border and airport profiling, and arbitrary detentions and deportations.

Today, we encourage all South Asians to honor the memory of September 11th through reflection, service, and a renewed commitment to preserve justice and equality for all.

For more information about the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations, please visit the NCSO webpage here or contact saalt@saalt.org or 301.270.1855.

Additional Resources and Information:

One Community United Kickoff Town Hall in Atlanta

From Niralee, one of our amazing summer interns:

On Tuesday, June 16th, SAALT’s Executive Director Deepa Iyer, along with NCSO partner Raksha, Indus Bar, the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, and Khabar, launched the One Community United campaign with an inaugural town hall in Atlanta. The event was the first in a series of community forums to be held throughout the country as part of the campaign.

The town hall took place at the Global Mall in Atlanta on Tuesday evening, and about forty people attended the event. The group was very diverse, including representatives of South Asian organizations, local students and community members, and members of local places of worship.

The heart of the discussion was immigration and human rights. From the very beginning, participants eagerly engaged in the discussion, addressing issues ranging from the rights of immigrant workers, to detention and deportation, to the reunification of families. Participants also discussed how the human rights of immigrants are often violated in this country. The event closed with a call to action, encouraging participants to contact their representatives in Congress, stay in touch with organizations working with the South Asian community, and stay up to date on immigration issues.

Many who attended walked away feeling inspired to take action on immigration reform in their communities. Vandana said, “The town hall was extremely eye-opening and thought provoking… I am going to chalk-out a plan of action… and definitely contact some people that I know will share the same enthusiasm for the [Be the Change] project.” Noshin, a representative of Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta, said he would “keep up with bills introduced and contact [his] representatives “ and “share [his] immigration story with SAALT.” Many others expressed a strong desire to go back to their communities and address the issues discussed at the town hall.

SAALT left the event looking forward to future town halls, to be hosted in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, New Jersey, and Washington DC. It was great to see so many Atlanta community members coming together to express their support for immigration reform. Overall, the event was a very exciting kick-off for SAALT’s One Community United campaign.

For more information about the One Community United campaign for Civil and Immigrant Rights, visit here <http://www.saalt.org/pages/One-Community-United-Campaign.html>.

More Reflections from Atlanta Town Hall for Civil and Immigrant Rights

Here are more reflection on the kick-off town hall in Atlanta, GA of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations’ One Community United campaign for civil and immigrant rights. This time we’re hearing from Nureen Gulamali, intern at ACLU-Georgia  (one of the cosponsors of the town hall):

I’m lucky to be interning at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Georgia this summer and was grateful to be a part of the SAALT/ACLU forum.  After attending the Immigration Forum, my perspective has been enlightened and truly widened.  Immigration is a hot topic in today’s world – tell me something I don’t know.  But how it affects the actual immigrants is truly the issue at hand.  I’ve heard accounts of the trials and tribulations that so many people have had to go through in order to get a better start in this world, and my heart goes out to them.  The forum itself not only provided more information to the uninformed, but allowed for a healthy and knowledgeable discussion for both the informed and uninformed.  It’s so important to stand up for what is right and immigration rights are, in essence, human rights.  What knowing individual wouldn’t stand up for human rights?

So, I suppose the more important question is, what can we do about it?  Well, really, everyone who was able to make it to the forum has already taken the first step – stay informed.  It’s as simple as that.  You can make a difference by staying informed, whether that’s catching up on the current issues on Google News, or joining a human rights advocacy group (GA Detention Watch, Human Rights Atlanta, Raksha, SAALT, etc.).  The more allies we have, the bigger the impact we can have – not to mention strategic pull.  So, take ten minutes a day to read what’s going on in the human rights/immigration front and from there, I swear, it will be plenty easy to get involved!

For more information about the One Community United campaign for Civil and Immigrant Rights, visit here <http://www.saalt.org/pages/One-Community-United-Campaign.html>.

A Call to Action to Address and End Domestic Violence

Please read this statement released by the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations in response to recent domestic violence incidents including the tragic murder of Aasiya Hassan in New York.

February 26th, 2009– As community-based organizations that provide services to, advocate for, and organize South Asians in the United States, we are deeply saddened by recent tragic incidents of domestic violence that have affected South Asian families and communities over the past six months.

The tragic murder of Aasiya Hassan, a 37-year-old mother, who was brutally beheaded in Buffalo, New York, is the latest in a series of recent violent incidents that has received community-wide and public attention.  Ms. Hassan had obtained an order of protection against her husband and filed for divorce before the murder, which occurred on February 12, 2009.

This incident comes on the heels of another tragedy that occurred in Clifton, New Jersey last November, when 24-year old Reshma James was murdered by her estranged husband at the church she attended.  And, it follows two murders of family members, including children: one occurring in Novi, Michigan, where the bodies of 37-year-old Jayalakshmi Rao and her two children were found, and the other occurring in Sorrente Pointe, California, where the entire Rajaram family (mother-in-law, wife,  three children, and the suicide of the husband) was found dead last October.

Beyond speaking out and condemning these tragedies, we as community members and organizations must strive to do even more.  As members of the South Asian community, each of us has a role to play in ending violence.

Most importantly, we must move beyond the tendency to reduce acts of domestic violence to culture or religion, or any such characteristic. The epidemic of domestic violence affects families from all backgrounds and religious faiths; in fact, the incidents we describe here occurred in Christian, Hindu and Muslim communities.  We must call domestic violence what it is, and work both within our community and externally, to create safe spaces and environments.

And, we must understand and empathize with victims and survivors of domestic violence.  All victims and survivors of domestic violence face significant barriers in seeking and obtaining assistance, justice, and support. For South Asians, these barriers become even more exacerbated.  Many South Asians feel uncomfortable reaching out to those within their own community for fear of being judged, questioned, isolated, blamed and stigmatized.  When abuse occurs in non-marital or same-sex relationships, it can become an even more difficult topic to broach.  Moreover, a lack of cultural and linguistic sensitivity and tangible legal protections can make survivors feel that they have little recourse in existing laws, the justice system, law enforcement and social service agencies.

Finally, we must be ready to address domestic violence publicly.  Around the country, community members, religious leaders and social service agencies must take significant steps each day to ensure that victims and survivors of domestic violence receive the support and assistance they need.  Our entire community must be prepared to speak out against violence and address it in our homes, places of worship, cultural centers, and social service organizations.

In light of the recent tragic incidents of domestic violence, we offer three concrete steps that you can take:  first, create a safe space to talk about domestic violence with your family, friends, and support networks; second, encourage your religious, cultural and civic leaders to address the impact of domestic violence in public statements, remarks, prayers and sermons, and settings; and third, support organizations that strive to end domestic violence in our communities.

We send this call to action with the hope that community members, religious, cultural and civic organizations, policymakers, allies and media will all take on the task of ending domestic violence. For our part, we remain committed to continuing our efforts to advocate against violence in any form, to create safe spaces for all community members, and to press for policies that support and empower victims and survivors of violence.

The National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), a network of community-based organizations in 12 regions around the United States, seeks to amplify a progressive voice on policy issues affecting South Asian communities.  For more information about the NCSO, please contact South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) at 301-270-1855 or via email at saalt@saalt.org

Endorsed by:

AdhikaarNew York, NY
Andolan – New York, NY
Apna Ghar – Chicago, IL
ASHA for Women – Washington DC Area
Chaya Seattle, WA
Chhaya CDC – New York, NY
Council of Peoples Organization – New York, NY

Counselors Helping (South) Asian/Indians – Washington DC Area
Daya – Houston, TX

Hamdard Center – Chicago, IL
Indo-American Center – Chicago, IL
Maitri – San Jose, CA
Manavi – New Brunswick, NJ
Michigan Asian Indian Family Services – Livonia, MI
Narika – Berkeley, CA
Raksha – Atlanta, GA
Saathi of Rochester – Rochester, NY
Sakhi for South Asian Women – New York, NY
Satrang – Los Angeles, CA
Sneha – West Hartford, CT
South Asian Health Initiative – New York, NY
Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund – Washington DC
South Asian Americans Leading Together – Washington DC Area

South Asian Youth Action – New York, NY
Trikone NW – Seattle, WA
Turning Point for Women and Families – New York, NY

How the Economic Downturn is Affecting Nonprofits

In times of economic crisis, non-profit organizations often see an increase in the need for services. SAALT’s partners who provide services to South Asian community members are observing an increased need for housing, job training, and benefits due to layoffs, lack of jobs, and the downturn in the economy.  At the same time, non-profits too are facing the burden of the economic crisis and are having to lay off staff, reduce programming, and dip into reserve funds.

As Daniel Gross, a financial editor at Newsweek, pointed out as early as June of 2008, donations from individual donors are down from what they used to be. And with 80 percent of support to non-profits coming from 20 percent of the people in America, any reduction in giving can have a significant impact on non-profit groups.

How can South Asians who are able to give support the non-profits that are so critical in our local communities? Why give at all? Read an excerpt from a post from Sayu Bhojwani (former Executive Director of South Asian Youth Action and former Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs for New York City on the South Asian Philanthropy Project blog about the importance of strategic giving within the South Asian community:

South Asian philanthropy has until recently meant contributing to causes in the home country and to regional and religious associations here in the U.S. As the community matures, accumulates wealth, and increases in number, more South Asian Americans are contributing to institutions in the United States, targeting resources to issues of concern in the community. Strategically utilized, the “brown dollar” can boost the capacity of fledgling organizations that serve the needs of minority communities across the U.S. and can play a critical role in shaping perspectives about South Asians in the broader American community.

In the fifteen years or so that I have been working in the South Asian community and in philanthropy, I have been frustrated by the piecemeal approach that people often take to philanthropy. South Asians who give, whether they are wealthy or not, are like most others who give—responsive to a personalized request from a friend or colleague, drawn by a personal connection to an issue or organization, or motivated by the need to meet a certain end-of-year level of giving

Read more here <http://southasianphilanthropy.org/2009/02/02/sapp-blog-forum-sayu-bhojwani/>

Luna Ranjit, E.D. of Adhikaar featured in the NY Daily News

Check out this glowing profile of Luna Ranjit, Executive Director and co-founder of Adhikaar, in the New York Daily News. Adhikaar is based in Queens and works to empower the Nepali community through a variety of activities. We want to congratulate our fellow National Coalition of South Asian Organizations partner on their continued success and this great exposure.

Check the full article out at: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/bronx/2008/12/12/2008-12-12_a_helping_hand_for_nepali_women_new_to_n.html?page=0