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New Delhi: Multiple Indian diaspora groups from across the world have issued a statement on January 26, Republic Day, calling attention to the students and right activists charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for their participation in the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests.
“The Delhi 18 are among the leaders of the nationwide peaceful peoples’ protest movement that arose at the end of 2019, against discriminatory changes made to India’s citizenship law in December 2019. The protests highlighted the loss of equal citizenship and the fears of Indian Muslims and other vulnerable sections,” the statement reads.
“The Delhi 18 include Sharjeel Imam, Ishrat Jahan, Khalid Saifi, Tahir Hussain, Saleem Malik, Mohd. Saleem Khan, Meeran Haider, Shadab Ahmed, Gulfisha Fatima, Tasleem Ahmed, Shifa Ur Rehman, Athar Khan, Umar Khalid, Safoora Zargar, Md. Faizan Khan, Asif Iqbal Tanha, Natasha Narwal and Devangana Kalita. Of the 18, 13 – all Muslims – have been in jail for over a year as of January 2022,” it continues.
David Shoebridge, a member of the Australian Parliament, in a video said, “Today on India’s Republic Day I, with politicians and those concerned with human rights around the globe, am raising my voice against the persecution of 18 brave students, activists who are being falsely branded as “terrorists” by the Indian state. These 18 are among the leaders of the nationwide peaceful peoples’ protest movement that captivated India and the world from December 2019 onwards, against discriminatory changes made to India’s citizenship law in December 2019. For standing up fearlessly and collectively against the government’s aim to rewrite the sanctity and inclusivity of citizenship to India, these 18 have been charged as instigating the mass violence that broke out in India’s capital city, Delhi, in February 2020.”
The statement has been issued by 18 organisations from different parts of the world: International Solidarity for Academic Freedom in India, Worldwide; People Against Apartheid and Fascism, South Africa; The Humanism Project, Australia; Aotearoa Alliance of Progressive Indians, New Zealand; India Solidarity Germany, Germany; Hindus for Human Rights, USA; Dalit Solidarity Forum, USA; Chicago Coalition for human rights in India, USA; Hindus for Human Rights, UK; World Wide Now; International Council of Indian Muslims; Scottish Indians for Justice, Scotland; Hindus for Human Right, Australia and New Zealand; Justice for All, Canada; Strive UK, UK; International Coalition for Justice in India, UK; Foundation, The London Story, Netherlands; and Boston South Asia Collective, USA.
Professor Mohan Dutta, Dean’s Chair in Communication at Massey University, New Zealand and director of its research, said, “The human right to dissent forms the fundamental architecture of democracies. The unlawful incarceration of Delhi18 depicts the authoritarian abuse of power by the Hindutva state, seeking to silence voices that challenge its politics of hate that fundamentally threatens the Indian constitution.”