‘State behavior authoritarian’: Statement in support from students and teachers of American universities

We, the undersigned at Syracuse University, Colgate University, and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, are in solidarity with our comrades at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India against the ongoing anti-democratic actions by the Indian state. We demand an immediate end to the police action against students on campus, and withdrawal of all charges against Kanhaiya Kumar, President of the JNU Students’ Union. We further demand that the Central Government put an immediate end to its prejudiced persecution of student activists on campuses across the country.

We strongly believe that the charge of sedition against Kanhaiya Kumar follows spurious claims. This arrest is an excuse for the state to root out dissenting voices on JNU campus, a move towards converting educational institutions like JNU into an arm of the authoritarian state. Attempts of a similar nature have been witnessed recently at other Indian educational institutions such as Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and Hyderabad University. The growing threat to academic freedom posed by the current political climate is transnational, and extends beyond India to other parts of the world – it is a threat we face here in the United States, too.

For any word or action to qualify as being “seditious” under Indian law, it has to directly issue a call to violence. This was not the nature of the protest held by a group of JNU students against the judiciary’s decision regarding Afzal Guru, who was convicted of an attack on the Indian parliament. The peaceful protest held on February 9 on campus was not unlike other protests convened at the university over the last several decades. Dissent is an essential part of a healthy democracy. We therefore strongly condemn the Indian government’s response to the students’ protests and demand that the state refrain from authoritarian behaviour. In this spirit, we urge the vice chancellor of JNU to protect members of the university community and safeguard their democratic rights.

  1. Natasha S.K., Social Science, Syracuse University
  2. Taveeshi Singh, Social Science, Syracuse University
  3. Mitul Baruah, Geography, Syracuse University
  4. Sean Wang, Geography, Syracuse University
  5. Miguel Contreras, Geography, Syracuse University
  6. Manuela Ruiz Reyes, Geography, Syracuse University
  7. Carolina Arango-Vargas, Anthropology, Syracuse University
  8. Tina Catania, Geography, Syracuse University
  9. Linh Khanh Nguyen, Anthropology, Syracuse University
  10. Jon Erickson, Geography, Syracuse University
  11. Tom Perreault, Geography, Syracuse University
  12. Jessie Speer, Geography, Syracuse University
  13. Sravani Biswas, History, Syracuse University
  14. Don Mitchell, Geography, Syracuse University
  15. Tod Rutherford, Geography, Syracuse University
  16. Jacquelyn MicieliVoutsinas, Geography, Syracuse University
  17. Sturdy Knight, Information Studies, Syracuse University
  18. Jenna Sikka, Sociology, Syracuse University
  19. Jaisang Sun, Social Science, Syracuse University
  20. Madhura Lohokare, Anthropology, Syracuse University
  21. Brian Dobreski, Information Studies, Syracuse University
  22. Sujata Bajracharya, Religion, Syracuse University
  23. Chandra TalpadeMohanty, Women’s and Gender Studies, Syracuse University
  24. Alisa Weinstein, Anthropology, Syracuse University
  25. Li Chen, Mass Communications, Syracuse University
  26. Taapsi Ramchandani, Anthropology, Syracuse University
  27. Laura Jaffee, Cultural Foundations of Education, Syracuse University
  28. Tula Goenka, Television-Radio-Film, Syracuse University
  29. Romita Ray, Art and Music Histories, Syracuse University
  30. Dorothy Kou, Sociology, Syracuse University
  31. Kriangsak Terrakowitkajom, Geography, Syracuse University
  32. Susan S. Wadley, Anthropology, Syracuse University
  33. Emily Mitchell-Eaton, Geography, Syracuse University
  34. Scarlett Rebman, History, Syracuse University
  35. Matt Huber, Geography, Syracuse University
  36. Brian Hennigan, Geography, Syracuse University
  37. Parvathy Binoy, Geography, Syracuse University
  38. Liz Mount, Sociology, Syracuse University
  39. Himika Bhattacharya, Women’s & Gender Studies, Syracuse University
  40. John Western, Geography, Syracuse University
  41. Vani Kannan, Composition and Cultural Rhetoric, Syracuse University
  42. Ani Maitra, Film and Media Studies, Colgate University
  43. Diane Swords, Cultural Foundations of Education, Syracuse University
  44. Alejandro Camargo, Geography, Syracuse University
  45. Cecilia Van Hollen, Anthropology, Syracuse University
  46. Alexandra Jebbia, Documentary Film & History, Syracuse University
  47. David Gustavsen, English, Syracuse University
  48. Michael Gill, Cultural Foundations of Education, Syracuse University
  49. Tiago Teixeira, Geography, Syracuse University
  50. Nimanthi Rajasingham, English, Colgate University
  51. Kimberly E. Powell, Women’s & Gender Studies, Syracuse University
  52. Sharon Moran, Environmental Studies, SUNY-ESF
  53. Adam Fix, Environmental Studies, SUNY-ESF
  54. Alvaro A. Salas, Public Administration, Syracuse University
  55. Diane R. Wiener, Division of Student Affairs – Disability Cultural Center, Syracuse University
  56. Brett Keegan, Composition and Cultural Rhetoric, Syracuse University
  57. Jyoti G. Balachandran, History, Colgate University
  58. Barbara L. Regenspan, Educational Studies, Colgate University
  59. Deborah J. Knuth Klenck, English, Colgate University
  60. Suzanne B. Spring, Writing & Rhetoric, Colgate University
  61. Cristina Serna, Women’s Studies, Colgate University
  62. Joel Bordeaux, Religion, Colgate University
  63. Mark Stern, Educational Studies, Colgate University
  64. Susan Thomson, Peace and Conflict Studies, Colgate University
  65. Kapil Mandrekar, Environmental and Forest Biology, SUNY-ESF.
  66. Jackie Orr, Sociology, Syracuse University.




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