Rights

British MPs, Prominent Figures Condemn Modi Regime’s 'Dictatorial Agenda'

'Criminalisation of dissent has intensified in unprecedented ways in recent months, while the COVID-19 pandemic rages across India,' the letter has said.

New Delhi: Over 200 prominent citizens from the United Kingdom – artists, journalists, lawyers, politicians and over 50 senior academics – have signed an open letter condemning the “dictatorial and majoritarian agenda” being pursued by the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government.

These include British MPs cutting across various political parties, including the Labour Party’s Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, the Scottish National Party’s Brendan O’Hara (spokesperson on International Human Rights), and sitting members of the House of Lords, including Shami Chakrabarti (former director of civil liberties group Liberty).

Signatories have expressed solidarity with “courageous activists in India who are opposing this vicious regime”. The many prominent cultural figures supporting this letter include Danny Boyle (director of Slumdog Millionaire), filmmaker Ken Loach, actress Maxine Peake, musician Lowkey, novelist Hari Kunzru, cultural producer Tobi Kyeremateng, environmentalist George Monbiot and writer Paul Gilroy.

Significantly, a number of British-Indian cultural figures have also signed their names – journalists (Ash Sarkar, Angela Saini), writers (Nikesh Shukla, Preti Taneja, Sandeep Parmar, Jemma Desai), musicians (Adam Bainbridge, Kapil Seshasayee, Sarathy Korwar), and theatre-makers (Tanika Gupta, Vinay Patel, Anjli Mohindra, Rakhee Thakrar, Milli Bhatia).

The full statement, which laments that “India’s image in the world has never been so tarnished”, has been reproduced below, along with the full list of signatories.

§

We add our voices to the global outcry against the Modi regime’s assault on human rights activists and democratic dissent.

The regime has incarcerated student protestors, feminist campaigners, human rights activists and prominent civil society figures. Many arrests were made on the basis of emergency laws that have no accountability, like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). In some cases, patently absurd charges of rioting were concocted to frame activists whose protests have always been peaceful and constitutional.

This criminalisation of dissent has intensified in unprecedented ways in recent months. Arrests have been made under the cover of the COVID lockdown, while the pandemic rages across India. The callous BJP-led government has not only failed its vulnerable population of migrant workers but also exposed activists to India’s unsanitary jails, which are breeding grounds for disease. Several imprisoned activists have already caught the virus.

Also read: From Ayodhya to Hathras, a New Criminal Justice System for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’

Meanwhile, BJP leaders have made inflammatory hate speeches calling for vigilante attacks on anyone protesting the regime. There is mounting evidence that police forces were complicit in abetting and committing brutality against Muslims in horrific riots instigated in Delhi in March. Once again, the actual perpetrators of violence are evading accountability.

The Modi regime is systematically destroying India’s constitutional democracy in pursuit of its dictatorial and majoritarian agenda. India’s image in the world has never been so tarnished.

We stand with the courageous activists in India who are opposing this vicious regime and call for the immediate release of all political prisoners.

The full list of signatories is as follows:

Adam Bainbridge, musician
Aditi Gupta, board member, Women of Colour Advancing Peace and Security UK
Dr Aditya Sarkar, University of Warwick
Dr Adrija Dey, SOAS, University of London
Professor Aisha K. Gill, University of Roehampton
Akshay Sharan, actor
Dr Alessandra Mezzadri, SOAS, University of London
Alex Hancock, music supervisor
Alex Thorpe, theatre director
Dr Alexandra Kelbert
Alexandra McCarter, researcher
Dr Alexei Penzin, University of Wolverhampton
Alice Robson, Feminist Fightback
Ambreen Razia, actor and writer
Amrit Wilson, writer
Professor Anandi Ramamurthy, Sheffield Hallam University
Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya, writer and editor, Red Pepper
Angela Saini, science journalist
Anjli Mohindra, actor
Dr Anna Sailer
Annapurna Menon, University of Westminster
Dr Annie Goh, Goldsmiths, University of London
Anshula Bain, actor
Apsana Begum MP, Labour
Arwa Mahdawi, journalist
Ash Sarkar, journalist
Dr Ashvin Devasundaram, Queen Mary University of London
Asim Chaudhry, comedian and actor
Dr Asim Qureshi, CAGE
Aysha Rafaele, Executive Producer, BBC Studios
Professor Barbara Harriss-White, University of Oxford
Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP, Labour
Professor Ben Rogaly, University of Sussex
Beth Bhargava, University of Cambridge
Bijan Sheibani, director and writer
Bill Thompson, architect
Brendan O’Hara MP, SNP
Carla Henry, actor
Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party
Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, Head of Editorial, gal-dem
Dr Charu Singh, University of Cambridge
Ché Walker, playwright and actor
Chloe Massey, actor
Chris Haughton, author and illustrator
Emeritus Professor Chris Roberts, University of Manchester
Claudia Webbe MP, Labour
Emeritus Professor Cosimo Zene, SOAS, University of London
Danny Boyle
Darrelene Dias, SOAS, University of London
Emeritus Professor David Hardiman, University of Warwick
Deepta Chopra, Institute of Development Studies
Dhruva Balram, journalist
Diana Mavroleon, artist
Diane Abbott MP, Labour
Eilis O’Keefe, Chair, Bectu Young Members Forum
Eleni Loukopoulou, LARAF
Enyi Okoronkwo, actor
Farhana Sheikh, writer
Dr Feyzi Ismail, SOAS, University of London
Francesca Farruggia, architect
Furqan Faridi, University of Sussex
Gabriela Ramos Sarmet, MSc, SOAS, University of London
Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya, University of East London
George Monbiot, Guardian columnist, author, environmental activist
Gerry Hart, Red Pepper
Dr Giovanna Gioli, Bath Spa University
Giovanni Bienne, actor
Guleraana Mir, playwright
Hamza Medley, artist & musician
Hannah Joss, theatre director
Hari Kunzru, writer
Harriet Walter, actor
Hilary Westlake, chair, Artists for Palestine UK
Dr Hugo Gorringe, University of Edinburgh
Ian Byrne MP, Labour
Ilyas Nagdee, writer
Ishan Khurana, Joint Head of Research, Autonomy Data Unit
James Fornara, educator
Dr Janna Graham, Goldsmiths, University of London
Javaad Alipoor, theatre-maker
Jemma Desai, writer
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Labour
Jo Tyabji, theatre-maker
Joanna Padfield, artist
John Hendy QC, House of Lords
John McDonnell MP, Labour
Emeritus Professor Jonathan Parry, LSE
Joshua Kelly, LARAF
JS Titus, Brunel University
Kallum Pembro, researcher
Dr Kalpana Wilson, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Kanchana N Ruwanpura, University of Edinburgh
Kapil Seshasayee, musician
Karen Scott, conservationist
Karthika Naïr, poet and dance producer
Kate Osborne MP, Labour
Dr Ken Fero, filmmaker
Ken Loach
Kezia Rolfe, librarian
Kieran Yates, journalist
Kulsoom Jafri, LARAF
Kumi Naidoo, social justice campaigner
Labour Against Racism and Fascism (LARAF) Steering Committee
Laetitia Zecchini, CNRS
Dr Laura Schwartz, University of Warwick
Leah Murphy Brettell, Institute of Development Studies
Leila Mimmack, actor
Lennaart Van Oldenborgh, documentary film editor
Dr Leon Sealey-Huggins, University of Warwick
Liz Davies, barrister
Lowkey, rapper
Lukas Kikuchi, Joint Head of Research, Autonomy Data Unit
Professor Lyla Mehta, Institute of Development Studies
Maddy Costa, writer
Madelaine Moore, theatre director
Maisie Robinson, actor
Maiyoraa Jeyabraba, University of Essex
Marcus Bernard, producer
Dr Maria Chehonadskih, University of Oxford
Mariel Richards, Head of Strategy & Brand Partnerships, gal-dem
Marilyn Hacker, poet, translator, editor
Dr Marina Vishmidt, Goldsmiths, University of London
Emeritus Professor Marion Roberts, University of Westminster
Professor Marsha Rosengarten, Goldsmiths, University of London
Dr Martin Schauss, University of Warwick
Martina Laird, actor
Matthew Sellwood, barrister
Maxine Peake, actor
Maya Bhardwaj, community organiser and researcher
Professor Meena Dhanda, University of Wolverhampton
Mick Whitley MP, Labour
Milli Bhatia, theatre director
Miranda Pennell, artist filmmaker
Professor Molly Scott Cato, Roehampton University
Mukul Patel, musician
Professor Myria Georgiou, LSE
Nadia Whittome MP, Labour
Dr Naomi Foyle, University of Chichester
Nathalie Perl, researcher
Professor Navtej Purewal, SOAS, University of London
Nigarish Khan, actor
Nikesh Patel, actor
Dr Nikesh Shukla FRSL
Nisha Parti, film and TV producer
Dr Nisha Ramayya, Queen Mary University of London
Oliver Cox, artist
Omar Malik, actor
Osman Baig, journalist
Paul Gilroy, writer
Pauline Bryan, House of Lords
Penny Babakhani, producer
Philippa Whitford MP, SNP
Dr Poppy Eaglestone
Praveen Kolluguri, International Network of Democratic Indians Abroad
Dr Preti Taneja, writer, lecturer, Newcastle University
Emeritus Professor Pritam Singh, Oxford Brookes University
Rabiah Hussain, writer
Dr Rachel Moore, Goldsmiths, University of London
Ragevan Vasan, actor
Dr Rahoul Masrani, LSE
Rakhee Thakrar, actor
Randall Morley, ecologist
Rayah Feldman, Maternity Action
Reece McMahon, producer
Rhian E Jones, writer
Richard Burgon MP, Labour
Ruchira Sharma, journalist
Ruth Lass, actor
Dr Ruth Lewis, Northumbria University
Sadiq Bhanbhro, Sheffield Hallam University
Safiyya Ingar, actor
Dr Sam Geall, University of Sussex
Sam Green, Co-Secretary, LARAF
Sam Swann, actor, Equity Councillor
Sana Noor Haq, journalist
Professor Sandeep Parmar, University of Liverpool
Sandy Broadhurst, human rights activist
Sarathy Korwar, musician
Sarbjit Johal, artist
Senayt Tassew, SOAS, University of London
Professor Shakuntala Banaji, LSE
Shami Chakrabarti, House of Lords
Shanice Dover, Social Media Editor, gal-dem
Shareefa Energy, poet
Sheila Rowbotham, historian
Dr Shela Sheikh, Goldsmiths, University of London
Shreeta Lakhani, SOAS, University of London
Simon Pirani, writer and researcher
Sinead MacInnes, actor
Dr Sita Balani, King’s College London
Dr Sita Thomas, theatre director
Sonali Bhattacharya, playwright
Professor Sonia Livingstone, LSE
Professor Stella Sandford, Kingston University
Professor Sundari Anitha, University of Lincoln
Sweety Kapoor, curator, creative producer
Tahir Ali MP, Labour
Tanika Gupta, playwright
Tanvi Surana, student
Tanya Singh, writer
Dr Tanzil Chowdhury, Queen Mary University of London
Tara Joshi, journalist
Tara, SOAS, University of London
Tobi Kyeremateng, producer
Tom Coxon, designer
Professor Tony Dowmunt, Goldsmiths, University of London
Tridib Bhattachrya, SOAS, University of London
Professor Vicki Bell, Goldsmiths, University of London
Vinay Patel, playwright
Visvak P., SOAS, University of London
Will Stronge, Director of Research & Policy, Autonomy
Zainab Hasan, actor
Zarah Sultana MP, Labour
Zia Ahmed, writer