New Delhi: Members of minority communities from countries across the world have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah expressing concern over the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 (CAB).
The letter, which has been signed by several human rights activists, journalists and lawyers, states that the Bill “discriminates against those already facing discrimination in their countries” on the basis of religion.
The signatories also note that the Bill has been passed at a time when the Indian government’s “citizenship project under the banner of the National Register for Citizens (NRC)” is underway which would effectively put thousands of Muslims in detention centres upon their failure to produce documents proving their citizenship.
The letter also draws attention to a statement by Amit Shah during an interview where he had said that the CAB would ensure that those Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Christians who are unable to procure the necessary documents would be granted citizenship owing to their religion. Noting the conspicuous exclusion of Muslims, the signatories point out that Muslims comprise the largest religious minority in India and maintain that the CAB coupled with the NRC would only aggravate their fears and discrimination against them.
Referring to the secular fabric of the country, as enshrined in the constitution, the signatories question the exclusion of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution, Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan, minorities in Sri Lanka and Nepal and the Uighurs Muslims in China.
The letter urges the Indian government to stop the CAB from becoming a law and also implores the government to “stop the NRC project which puts those who are already marginalised, into greater vulnerability”.
Full text of the letter is reproduced below.
The Prime Minister of India Mr Narendra Modi and
The Home Minister of India, Mr Amit Shah,
We, the undersigned, represent twenty three Minority communities from countries across the world and are writing to you today to express our grave concern against the discriminatory and divisive citizenship law that was passed by India’s Lok Sabha under the leadership of your government on the 9th of December, one day before the world celebrated Human Rights Day.
A simple reading of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) is enough to condemn it as it discriminates against those already facing discrimination in their countries, and it does so on the basis of religion. We also are aware of the fact that this bill has been passed at a time when the Indian Government has started its citizenship project under the banner of the National Register for Citizens (NRC) and will result in hundreds of thousands of Muslims being put in detention centres upon failure to provide adequate documents to prove their citizenship. As per an interview given by you, Mr Shah, to a news channel in India earlier this year, the CAB will ensure that those ‘Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Christians’ who are unable to prove their citizenship will not be put in detention centres and will acquire citizenship, owing to their religion. You, Mr Shah, did not mention Muslims here, even once.
Muslims comprise the largest religious minority in India and reports by national and International human rights organisations including the United Nations have reiterated the discrimination, violence and marginalisation they continue to face. The CAB coupled with the NRC will only worsen their fears and their current situation.
Moreover, we have known India as the world’s largest Democracy which stands tall on its constitutional values of being a ‘Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic’. We as minorities belonging to various faiths, ethnicities, tribes, linguistic groups then question this secular fabric when we read the text of the Bill which states that:
‘persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan’ ……. ‘shall not be treated as illegal Immigrants’ and ‘be eligible to apply for naturalisation’
If India takes pride in being a secular state what then about the hundreds of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution and the Ahmaddiya Muslims in Pakistan for that matter facing violence and seeking shelter? Minorities in Sri Lanka and Nepal? Also, why leave out our Ughyr Brothers and Sisters facing persecution and fearing for their lives in detention centres in one of India’s most populous neighbouring countries?
As concerned representatives of minority communities from across the world we urge the Indian Government to refrain from making CAB, which has been passed by the Lok Sabha, into a law. We further urge the government to stop the NRC project which puts those who are already marginalised, into greater vulnerability.
- Elizabete Krivcova, Russian-speaking community, Latvia, lawyer, Latvian Non-Citizens’ Congress
- Aleksandr Kuzmin, Russian minority in Latvia, lawyer, Latvian Human Rights Committee
- Farkhat Ibragimov, Uyghur community, Kyrgyzstan, human rights defender
- Nouha Grine, Amazighe Community, Tunisia, Human Rights Defender
- Alexander Bekmurzin, Russian ethnic minority of Kyrgyzstan, human rights defender/lawyer
- Dino D.G. Dympep’, Khasi Community’, Meghalaya Peoples’ Human Rights Council (MPHRC)
- Julija Sohina, Russian linguistic minority, Parents community, Latvia
- Dr Nina Mariani Noor, Ahmadiyya Muslim, Indonesia, Lecturer, State Islamic University Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta Indonesia
- Ms Mueda Nawanat, Karen Community, Human Rights Lawyer, Chiang Mai Thailand.
- Ashour Saleh Abdulaziz, Libyan Tuareg, Lecturer, Sebha University. Libya.
- Zarina Sautieva, Ingush ethnic, linguistic and religious minority of Russia, Russia, Justice Initiative
- Makarios Lahzy, Coptic community, Egypt, Lawyer,
- Byebitgul Khaumyen, kazakh Muslim, PhD candidate, Mongolia
- Mahmood Abdul Mateen, Muslim, Sri Lanka, Human Rights Defender
- Dr Vivien Brassói, Roma community, Human Rights Lawyer
- Mirca Morera, Member of Latin American community in the UK , Director of Save Latin Village
- Sofia Melikova, Tsakhur National and Cultural Autonomy
- Jack Edward Jendo, Assyrian, Lebanon, General secretary – Assyrian Support Committee
- Aline Miklos – Roma community, Argentina – PhD Candidate
- Thenmohi Soundararajan, Dalit American, USA, Equality Labs
- Andreas Jonathan, Young Interfaith Peacemaker Community, Indonesia, Lecturer
- Mikhael Benjamin, Assyrian ethno-religious community, Iraq, Human rights activist
- Marina Shupac, Bulgarian national and Russian linguistic minority, Human Rights journalist, Moldova
- Aya Manaa, Palestinian minority, Israel, Human rights activist
- Wai Wai Nu, Rohingya Community, Myanmar, Human Rights Defender
- Rukhma Meghwal, Dalit, USA, Human Rights Activist
- Sarvar Salimov, Uzbek community, Kyrgyzstan, Human rights defender
- Brahim Bilal Ramdhane, Haratine, Mauritania, President of Sahel Foundation for human rights
- Aline Miklos – Roma Community Argentina – Human Rights Activist
- Prakash Nepali, Dalit, Nepal, Human Rights Lawyer