Two-day protests were held against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in multiple places across the United States of America, including New York, California, Washington and Georgia. The protests were held across four locations — at Artesia Boulevard in Los Angeles, Devon Street in Chicago, Moody Street in Waltham, Patel Plaza in Decatur and Newark Street in Jersey City — over the weekend of January 18 and 19.
Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Executive Director of South Asian American organization Equality Labs, stated that the protests are being organised to demand that the controversial Act, which provides citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, be repealed.
“The CAA is an integral part of the Modi government’s process of creating a stateless Muslim population —who can be profiled, treated as second-class citizens, and imprisoned in massive detention centres already being built in India,” Thenmozhi said. Thenimozhi added that the government currently receives support from the Indian diaspora in the US and the protests were held to spread awareness on the controversial law.
“ This is why we’re mobilizing a National Day of Action with South Asian American grassroots groups across the US to uplift the demand that these networks immediately cease their support and divest from the spread of Hindu fascism. We are drawing a line in the sand: The diaspora will not be complicit with genocide,” Thenmozhi said.
In Jersey City, the protests were held by the South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI). One of the organisers, Theresa Matthews, stated that the protest in Jersey is significant as it is an area with one of the largest Indian diasporic populations in the US.
“We’re hosting the National Day of Action... to urge people to move as one in an act of conscience and object to Modi and his genocidal project to Indian minorities. As an Indian Christian I know the CAA will not just impact Muslims, it will affect all minority faiths. It also has consequences for queer and trans people,” Theresa said.
Bilal Hussain spearheaded the protests in Artesia, California. “I am Muslim, I am queer. And I am of Indian descent. The CAA has genocidal implications for all of my communities and we will not be silent. I have family who is afraid for their lives and it is heartbreaking,” he said.
Vinnu Wolhowe helped organize the action in Seattle, Washington. “As a Dalit Christian from India, who now lives in Seattle, I know that religious and caste minorities in India have experienced state-sponsored violence through a plethora of avenues and that we have seen this coming. We have to wake up and be willing to look at these uncomfortable truths: India has never been a tolerant, secular, nation, and what we tout to be the biggest democracy has never been safe for minorities.”
Shelly Anand, who helped organize the action in Decatur, Georgia, said, “The Modi-led government is.. seeking to further deepen the divide among South Asians by caste and creed, rather than bring us together -- and all for the benefit of upper-caste Hindus. I'm taking a stand against the CAA, the Hindu Right, and Modi government because I refuse to perpetuate the communal tensions that have plagued the subcontinent and the diaspora for over a century."