(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/6/20) – A coalition of Indian-American and American civil society, civil and human rights organizations today held a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., calling for U.S. sanctions on Home Minister of India in response to that country adopting the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – a law that discriminates against India’s religious minorities and could categorize India’s 200 million Muslims and others as non-citizens as illegal aliens.
Dr. Zahid Bukhari, ICNA CSJ Executive Director, also spoke during the press conference:
Organizations participating in the news conference included:
- Indian American Muslim Council
- International Society for Peace and Justice
- ICNA Council for Social Justice
- Council on American-Islamic Relations
- Council on Minority Rights in India
- Justice For All
- Baltimore County Muslim Council
During the news conference, coalition members urged President Trump, the Department of State and members of Congress to reject the human rights violations and the discriminatory laws being passed in India and take the following actions:
- Formally request the Indian government to revoke the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as it violates India’s international obligations to prevent deprivation of citizenship based on race, religion, color, descent, national or ethnic origin as found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other human rights treaties.
- Sanction India’s Home Minister Amit Shah and the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh (UP) Yogi Adityanath, in light of their blatant violations of human rights, as per the recommendations of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. The commission previously stated should the CAA pass, the US government “should consider sanctions against the home minister and other principal leadership.”
- Summon the Indian Ambassador and Foreign Minister of India to meet with President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo to address the human rights violations taking place in India and remind them of their nation’s international obligations.
- Carry out a U.S. State Department inquiry and report into accounts of law enforcement-led violence against anti-CAA protesters and the more than 20 confirmed deaths of protesters. The U.S. should demand that India comply with the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
The coalition also called on India to:
- Release all student protesters arrested for opposing CAA in UP, Delhi and other states.
- Release protesters who were not involved in any unlawful acts
- Arrest and remove from duty and prosecute police officers guilty of human rights violations against anti-CAA protesters
- Remove Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from office for his direct involvement in the police brutalities directed against the protesters.
On December 10, the government of India passed the CAA, which legalized the granting of citizenship based on religion and specifically excluded Muslims from obtaining citizenship. India also is planning to implement a pan-India citizen verification process known as the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The combination of CAA and NRC would give the Indian Government legal grounds to declare Indian Muslims as non-citizens.
Since enactment of CCA, more than 20 Indian protesters have been killed by police firing into crowds of unarmed anti-CAA protestors.
In Uttar Pradesh, state police under the administration of Modi’s extremist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have violently attacked students at the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University.
The Indian government has also banned protests and cut internet in parts of the nation’s capital Delhi and throughout the states of Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.