On December 19, dozens of Chicagoans hit the streets to speak out against the anti-Muslim Citizenship Amendment Act recently passed by the Indian government. The protesters connected the CAA with the occupation of Kashmir and spoke against police brutality in both India and the US.
Chicago Stands with the Indian Academy, an impromptu organization of Indian students and activists in Chicago, called for a mobilization in response to the violence currently being carried out against Muslims and other oppressed people in India by Narendra Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The Chicago rally took place in front of Tribune Tower downtown, before culminating in a march to the Indian Consulate where protesters denounced the racist, Islamophobic and anti-immigrant repression being unleashed by the Modi government.
In Chicago, protesters were loud and clear in their solidarity with the students of Jamia Millia Islamia. Shruti Bakre, a political organizer in the Chicago area, drew a clear connection between the police violence in India with that faced by oppressed people in the United States. “We reject the police brutality being inflicted on students at Jamia Millia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University,” Bakre stated. “But we cannot talk about police brutality without talking about who police brutality is affecting in the United States. Black folks have been resisting police violence for centuries,” she continued. “If we are to be outraged about police brutality in India, we must stand just as firmly with Black folks, with queer folks, with trans folks…it is only through solidarity that any change is going to happen.”
“The recent steps taken by the Modi government are disastrous for India’s minorities and its consequences will amount to nothing short of ethnic cleansing and genocide,” said Azhar Ahmad, an organizer with Stand With Kashmir, to the crowd gathered outside Tribune Tower. “As we stand here today, Kashmir has been under siege for over 137 days. No internet, limited phone lines, restricted movement amid heavy army deployment, mass arrests and detentions, torture, and other human rights violations we don’t even know about. If there are any people who know the horrors that India bestows, it is the people of Kashmir…no movement against fascism in India can succeed as long as Kashmir is occupied. Our freedom may not be your freedom, but it will also set you free.”
We must stand in firm opposition to racism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant bigotry. In the face of rising fascist reaction, our solidarity is vital not only to survive, but to fight back and win justice and liberation for all working and oppressed people.