UMSU condemns aggressive Indian response to protests

International representative issues statement in support of campus Indian community

A motion put forward by International community representative Victoria Nwabuisi “in support of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in India” was passed at the Feb. 27 UMSU board of directors meeting, calling upon UMSU to condemn the Indian government and show public support for international students.

India is currently in turmoil over the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act, which offers a clear path to citizenship for refugees fleeing religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, with the only stipulation being that they are not Muslim.

The amended act passed Dec. 11 last year and has been widely viewed as Islamophobic.

Facing riots, the Indian government and Hindu nationalists have turned to violent means to suppress protestors.

According to the motion, the government has killed dozens of protestors and arrested thousands of others, with Muslims being targeted.

The motion was put forward by Nwabuisi at the behest of Amitoz Singh, an international student from India who attended the meeting as a student-at-large to speak on the motion.

The motion asks UMSU to “release a statement showing their support for students on campus affected by violence in their home countries,” and for UMSU to work with relevant campus communities to “arrange an event surrounding interfaith dialogue and peace.”

“In the last four days [in India], there have been constant riots going down in the capital where 30 have died so far,” said Singh.

“There were communal riots where the government’s lackeys and goons attacked Muslim minority neighbourhoods, particularly burning [down] their houses, shops [and] killing a lot of them, while police stood there doing nothing.”

Singh voiced belief that there is a strong possibility for Indian students abroad to lose their Indian citizenship and become stateless with proposed changes being made to India’s national register of citizenship.

He said he wants students to become aware of the increasingly dire situation in India and for UMSU to support affected students at the U of M in a remarkably stressful time.

“If [the national register of citizenship] is brought through, many of the students here potentially risk losing their citizenship altogether and becoming stateless refugees,” he said.

“It’s not just about the psychological impacts of that, we are actually affected by it.

“We could be left without a state and a home.”

The motion was heavily amended and passed by secret ballot.