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Proposed EU motion against repression in India

European Parliament resolution on India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019

Proposed by Idoia Villanueva Ruiz, Miguel Urbán Crespo, Konstantinos Arvanitis, Manuel Bompard, Younous Omarjee, Stelios Kouloglou, Eugenia Rodríguez Palop, Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Giorgos Georgiou, Niyazi Kizilyürek

on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

Photo: EPA

The European Parliament,

– having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,

– having regard to Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR),

– having regard to Article 21 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,

– having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 91 (1951) on Kashmir,

– having regard to the UN report on Kashmir of 2019,

– having regard to the India-EU Strategic Partnership Joint Action Plan signed in November 2005, and to the EU-India Thematic Dialogue on Human Rights,

– having regard to the Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on the rule of law at the national and international levels and to the resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 30 November 2012 (A/RES/67/1),

– having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won the general election in May 2019 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned for a second term, the Government of India has reinforced its nationalistic orientation, discriminating against, harassing and prosecuting national and religious minorities and silencing any opposition, human rights groups, human rights defenders, and journalists critical of the government;

B. whereas in August 2019 the government revoked the special constitutional status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and split it into two separate, federally governed territories; whereas the government deployed additional troops to the region, shut down the internet and phones, and placed thousands of people in preventive detention, including elected leaders, prompting international condemnation;

C. whereas Security Council resolutions requiring a referendum allowing all Kashmiris to determine the future status of Kashmir have never been implemented;

D. whereas the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) was passed by the Parliament of India on 11 December 2019 amending the Citizenship Act of 1955 to provide a path to Indian citizenship for members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian religious minorities who had fled persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before December 2014; whereas the CAA leaves out Muslims and others from these countries, as well as Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, Rohingyas from Myanmar, and Buddhist refugees from Tibet; whereas this amendment introduces religion as a criterion for citizenship for the first time under Indian nationality law; whereas this amendment violates the secular nature of India’s constitution;

E. whereas the CAA violates India’s international obligations to prevent deprivation of citizenship on the basis of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other human rights treaties; whereas the CAA is in clear violation of Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which states that ‘Everyone has the right to a nationality’ and that ‘No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality’; whereas the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called the CAA ‘fundamentally discriminatory’, adding that while India’s ‘goal of protecting persecuted groups is welcome’, this should be accomplished through a non-discriminatory ‘robust national asylum system’;

F. whereas all states are bound to respecting the human rights of all individuals without distinction; whereas an individual’s legal bond to a particular state through citizenship remains in practice an essential prerequisite to the enjoyment and protection of the full range of human rights;

G. whereas as stated in the Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the rule of law at the national and international levels and in the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on 30 November 2012, ‘all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to just, fair and equitable laws and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law’;

H. whereas the CAA marks a dangerous shift in the way citizenship will be determined in India and is set to create the largest statelessness crisis in the world and cause immense human suffering;

I. whereas the passage of the legislation caused large-scale protests in India; whereas huge demonstrations have been held in the capital, Delhi, as well as in Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad; whereas the CAA has reignited old hostilities in Tripura; whereas Assam, Uttar Pradesh and other north-eastern states have seen violent demonstrations against the CAA over fears that granting Indian citizenship to refugees and immigrants will cause a loss of their ‘political rights, culture and land rights’ and motivate further migration from Bangladesh; whereas protesters have demanded that Indian citizenship be granted to Muslim refugees and immigrants;

J. whereas protesters throughout India have criticised the new law for being unconstitutional in discriminating against Muslims; whereas citizens are demanding that the amendment be scrapped and the nationwide National Register of Citizenship not be implemented; whereas citizens are concerned that Muslim citizens of India will be rendered stateless and put into detention camps; whereas protesters have condemned the authoritarianism of the Indian Government, the police crackdown in universities and the suppression of protests;

K. whereas the Government of India’s response to the protests has included the imposition of a curfew, a shutdown of internet services, detention of human rights activists and alleged torture;

L. whereas instead of addressing the concerns, offering corrective action, calling for security forces to act with restraint and ensuring accountability, many government leaders have been engaging in efforts to discredit, rebuke and threaten the protesters;

M. whereas the protests have led to the death of several protesters, left protesters and police personnel injured, and led to damage to public and private property; whereas various state governments have either arrested those protesting against the CAA or imposed prohibitory orders on them under Section 144 and 149 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC); whereas protestors have been met with a show of force and restrictive measures that infringe on their right to be seen and heard; expresses concern that many people have found themselves in detention or living under internet shutdowns;

N. whereas Uttar Pradesh has witnessed the largest number of deaths during the countrywide anti-CAA protests, including the death of an 8-year-old child in Varanasi. whereas over 22 protestors are reported to have succumbed to bullet injuries; whereas families of victims have expressed anguish over their inability to receive post mortem reports and file First Information Reports (FIRs) at the police station; whereas the FIRs on rioting are detailed and have led to multiple arrests and damage recovery operations;

O. whereas there have been credible reports of protestors in detention being tortured in India;

P. whereas some states have announced that they will not implement the CAA and some states, such as Kerala, have filed a legal challenge against the new citizenship law;

Q. whereas trade negotiations are underway between the EU and India;

1. Expresses deep concern at the fact that India has created the legal grounds to strip millions of Muslims of the fundamental right of equal access to citizenship; is concerned that the CAA could be used, along with the National Register of Citizens, to render many Muslim citizens stateless;

2. Reminds the Government of India of its obligations under the 1992 UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, which establishes the obligation of countries to protect the existence and identity of religious minorities within their territories and to adopt appropriate measures to ensure that this is achieved; reminds the Government of India that governments are required to ensure that people belonging to minority groups, including religious minorities, may exercise their human rights without discrimination and in full equality before the law, and strongly condemns India’s violation of these internationally recognised principles;

3. Urgently calls on the Government and Parliament of India to demonstrate their expressed commitment to fully guaranteeing the protection of refugees and migrants, irrespective of their religion;

4. Urges the Indian authorities to engage constructively with the protestors and consider their demands to repeal the discriminatory CAA;

5. Expresses its solidarity with the national strike held on 7 January; notes that over 250 million workers have taken to the streets to protest for social security for all, against the privatisation of public companies, and against the CAA; condemns the excessive force in the crackdown on protests; stresses that citizens have the right to protest; calls on the Government of India to establish a credible, independent investigation into allegations of excessive use of force and violence by law enforcement officials against demonstrators;

6. Calls on the Indian authorities to stop the criminalisation of protests, to lift the disproportionate restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, to end the indiscriminate shutdowns and to ensure the protection of all human rights;

7. Condemns the torture and detention of minors and peaceful protestors and the imprisonment of those critical of the authorities;

8. Urges the Indian authorities to accept visits from UN Special Procedures, in particular the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association and the UN Special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions;

9. Calls for the EU and Member States to condemn all violence in the context of the ongoing protests against the CAA, including the alleged killing of protestors by law enforcement officials, and all incidents of excess use of force by the police, some of which have been verified by Amnesty International India;

10. Calls for the EU and Member States to promote the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir; calls on India and Pakistan to consider the enormous human, economic and political benefits of resolving this conflict; expresses deep concern at the growing tensions between India and Pakistan, both being nuclear weapon states, which have been further fuelled by the controversial decisions of the Government of India on Kashmir and citizenship; condemns the unilateral changes made to the status of Kashmir by India; asks both sides to implement the recommendations of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report on Kashmir;

11. Urges the EU and Member States to raise the controversial new citizenship legislation in their contacts and negotiations with their Indian partners, and insists that any EU trade agreement with India should include a strong human rights clause with an effective implementation and suspension mechanism;

12. Calls on the Indian authorities to launch a prompt and impartial investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment of peaceful protestors;

13. Calls for the EU and its Member States to use all bilateral and multilateral meetings to urge the Indian authorities to open up to a constructive human rights dialogue and to end the crackdown on individuals and organisations working on human rights;

14. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Government and Parliament of India, the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the European External Action Service (EEAS).

This article originally appeared on the European Parliament Website.

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