The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has issued a strongly worded statement against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The statement says, “We are concerned that India’s new Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019 is fundamentally discriminatory in nature.” It adds, “The amended law would appear to undermine the commitment to equality before the law enshrined in India’s constitution and India’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, to which Indian is a State party, which prohibit discrimination based on racial, ethnic or religious grounds.”
While the UN welcomes India’s “goal of protecting persecuted groups”, it advocates that this should be done “through a robust national asylum system that is premised on the principle of equality and non-discrimination, and which applies to all people in need of protection from persecution and other human rights violations, with no distinction as to race, religion, national origin or other prohibited grounds.”
The UN also raises concerns about casualties and injuries during anti-CAA protests, and calls on authorities “to respect the right to peaceful assembly, and to abide by international norms and standards on the use of force when responding to protests. All sides should refrain from resorting to violence.” The entire statement may be read here.
Meanwhile, the United States has issued a travel alert saying, “U.S. citizens in the northeastern states of India should exercise caution in light of media reports of protests and violence in response to the approval of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Government curfews are in place in some areas. Internet and mobile communications may be disrupted. Transport may be affected in various parts of the region. Protests have also been reported in other parts of the country. The U.S. government has temporarily suspended official travel to Assam.”
The US State Department also weighed in on the subject of CAB. “We are closely following developments regarding the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Respect for religious freedom and equal treatment under the law are fundamental principles of our two democracies,” a State Department spokesperson said on Thursday, as reported by The Wire. The bill has since then received Presidential assent and become law.
Canada has also issued a travel advisory against all non-essential travel to six North Easterns states; Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland, in wake of conflict in the region. It has advised against any travel to areas along the Indian borders with both, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Canada has also advised its citizens to avoid all travel to Jammu and Kashmir.
UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO) also issued and advisory saying, “Demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) are taking place in some parts of the country. There have been reports of violent protest in North East India, especially in Assam and Tripura. An indefinite curfew has been imposed in Guwahati (Assam) and mobile internet services have been suspended in 10 districts of Assam. Transport may be affected in various parts of the region. You should exercise caution if you’re planning to travel in North East India, monitor local media for the latest information, follow instructions of the local authorities and allow more time for travel.”
Meanwhile, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the CAA tweeting, “India, under Modi, has been moving systematically with its Hindu Supremacist agenda. Starting with illegal annexation & continuing siege of IOJK; then stripping 2 mn Indian Muslim in Assam of citizenship, setting up internment camps; now the passage of Citizenship Amendment Law;”
Earlier Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Abdul Momen cancelled his visit to India citing a clash in his itinerary. A press release from the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi said that Momen’s presence was required “in two important national events – the observance of Martyred Intellectuals Day on December 14 and the Victory Day on December 16. The events coincide with his planned visit to India.” But it is noteworthy that around the same time, Momen had condemned Indian Home Minister Amit Shah’s allegations of minority repression in Bangladesh. Momen told Dhaka Tribune, “What they are saying in regards to torture on Hindus is unwarranted as well as untrue. There are a very few countries in the world where communal harmony is as good as in Bangladesh. We have no minorities. We are all equal. If he [Amit Shah] stayed in Bangladesh for a few months, he would see the exemplary communal harmony in our country.”
Recently Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also cancelled his trip to Guwahati amidst security concerns.