The Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA), an umbrella organization of progressive South Asian groups across the United States, in coordination with the local San Francisco community, today welcomed the resolution passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors denouncing India’s draconian Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR).
The resolution was jointly worked upon by AJA and other local San Francisco organizations like the American Institute of Islamic History and Culture, San Francisco Interfaith Council, the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and the San Francisco Muslim Community Center, AJA said in a statement.
San Francisco has now become the sixth city in the US after Seattle (Washington), Albany (New York), St. Paul (Minnesota), Hamtramck (Michigan) and Cambridge (Massachusetts) to pass a resolution denouncing the CAA, NRC and NPR.
CAA and NRC violate norms of a secular democracy
In its statement, AJA said the CAA and NRC sought to render millions of people among minorities and caste oppressed stateless, for many had been living in India for generations but did not have caste certificates. It added, “Their use of religion as a criterion for selectively granting citizenship to immigrants of certain communities is a flagrant violation of all norms of secular democracies besides being inconsistent with India’s Constitution that guarantees equality before the law for people of all faiths.”
The resolution which was passed by a unanimous vote categorically opposed the CAA, NRC and NPR as “discriminatory to Muslims, caste oppressed, women, indigenous peoples, and the LGBTQ community.” It also denounced “any other efforts that render vulnerable populations anywhere to become stateless, scapegoated, and targeted for discrimination, violence, and the abrogation of human rights that are universal to one and all.”
It also raised concerns on how the CAA and NRC would create a massive refugee and health crisis and mentioned that the bigoted policies of President Trump had been mirrored by Indian PM Narendra Modi and the BJP and their alarming ideology that Hindus are racially and culturally superior to others.
Hala Hijazi, a Commissioner on the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and a board member of the San Francisco Muslim Community Center and San Francisco Interfaith Council, expressed pride in the City and County of San Francisco. Hijazi was quoted as saying, “When genocidal campaigns begin, one important intervention is international condemnation, and the Bay Area community feels a deep sense of solidarity with their elects, as the time to stand against the Indian government’s Islamophobic policies is now.”
AJA quoted Sharmin Hossain of Equality Labs who stated that the resolution highlighted the significance of standing up for caste-oppressed minorities and said, “Thousands of organizers across the country have called, e-mailed, and organized to amplify this Resolution, and it sets an example to cities across the United States – that we do not stand on the side of genocide.”
Nazeer Ahmed of the American Institute and Institute of Islamic History and Culture said, “India is creating a refugee crisis of biblical proportions. It will impact civil society in many parts of the world including the United States.”
Mentioning that Genocide Watch had issued two separate genocide alerts for the states of Assam and Kashmir, Mr. Ahsan Khan, President of Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) said, “In this context, San Francisco’s decision to stand with oppressed minorities in India sends a clear message on where people of conscience around the world stand in regards to the deepening crisis in India. Today’s development will resonate across the US and beyond.”
In conclusion, the resolution called on the support of other municipalities in the US to urge the Parliament of India to uphold the Indian Constitution by repealing the Citizenship Amendment Act, stop the National Register of Citizens, close all detention facilities detaining de-naturalized citizens, take steps towards helping refugees by ratifying various UN treaties on refugees, explore U.S. and U.N. sanctions.
Previously too, the Indian government has been called out for its failure to preserve India’s flailing social fabric.
Last month, US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called out the Centre’s repression of minority communities in India, especially the treatment of people in Kashmir in wake of the abrogation of Article 370.
Prior to that, The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its Annual Report for 2020 painted a bleak picture of how India treated her religious minorities. It had recommended that the US Government not only designate India as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), but also impose targeted sanctions on Indian government agencies.
Under-Secretary-General Adama Dieng, United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide had also raised several key questions about the growth of hate speech and especially the targeting of the Muslim community in wake of the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the nationwide agitation against it.
The complete resolution by the City and County of San Francisco may be read below.