Mass protests against controversial citizenship law in India
Exclusion of 200 million Muslims fuels violence and conflicts (Press Release)
--- Göttingen, December 22, 2019 ---- The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) accuses the government of India of systematically fueling conflicts, violence, and human rights violations with its new citizenship law. After at least 12 people got killed in crackdowns on protests against the controversial law yesterday, the human rights organization warned of a further escalation of the conflicts. "It is extremely dangerous to exclude 200 million Muslims and to ignore the secular principles of the constitution in the multi-religious and multi-ethnic state of India," explained Ulrich Delius, the STP's director, in Göttingen on Sunday. Since the outbreak of the protests 11 days ago, a total number of 24 people have lost their lives, more than 7,000 people were arrested, and the authorities have shut down the mobile phone network in large parts of the country.
The human rights advocate warned that the restrictions on the right to demonstrate on the freedom of speech are a severe blow to Asia's largest democracy – fueling the people's mistrust towards a Hindu nationalist government whose main concern seems to be the establishment of a Hindu state. Thus, it would be dishonest if the government were to include minority protection regulations in the new citizenship law while at the same time arresting leading representatives of minority groups in the course of public protests. For example, a prominent Dalit representative was taken into custody at a protest meeting in New Delhi on Saturday.
The STP welcomed the fact that several Indian states announced that they would not apply the law, due to concerns regarding its constitutionality. In order to stop the escalating violence and to improve the relations between the various ethnic and religious communities, India's Hindu nationalists must finally be shown limits to their attempts to exclude religious minorities, the human rights organization demanded.
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