UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS STANDS WITH JNU

Students and Faculty, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in Solidarity with JNU
Students and Faculty, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign in Solidarity with JNU

We, the undersigned students, faculty, staff, and other members of the University of Illinois community are in solidarity with students, faculty and staff at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), India, against the ongoing anti-democratic actions by the Indian state. We demand an immediate end to the police action against students on campus, and withdrawal of all charges against Kanhaiya Kumar, President of the JNU Students’ Union. We unequivocally condemn the witch hunting of students, using archaic laws of sedition, who organized the cultural event questioning capital punishment and the deliberate vandalism and violence unleashed by those affiliated with Hindu Nationalist groups. We are also dismayed at the violence used by lawyers aligned with the government in their acts of vigilantism which are aimed at using the garb of patriotism to impose their ideology through violence.

We strongly believe that the charge of sedition against Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and the other 6 students are based on spurious evidence. This arrest is an excuse for the state to root out dissenting voices on JNU campus, a move towards converting educational institutions like JNU into an arm of the authoritarian state. Attempts of a similar nature have been witnessed recently at other Indian educational institutions such as Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and Hyderabad University. The growing threat to academic freedom and the practice of fundamental thinking and critique, posed by the current political climate is transnational, and extends beyond India to other parts of the world–it is a threat we face here in the United States, too.

For any word or action to qualify as being “seditious” under Indian law, it has to directly issue a call to violence in front of a gathered mob capable of such violence. This was not the nature of the protest held by a group of JNU students against the judiciary’s decision regarding Afzal Guru. His conviction and the subsequent hanging has been questioned repeatedly by legal scholars, jurors, lawyers, writers, and academics. The peaceful protest held on February 9 on campus was not unlike other protests convened at the university over the last several decades. Further, the sedition law the Indian state is using to target democratic students at JNU is a colonial-era law originally imposed by the British Empire to keep its subjects in line. Britain itself has since abolished sedition as a criminal offense.

Dissent is an essential part of a healthy democracy. We therefore strongly condemn the Indian government’s response to the students’ protests and demand that the state refrain from authoritarian behaviour. In this spirit, we urge the Vice Chancellor of JNU to protect members of the university community and safeguard their democratic rights. We also urge the Central Government to immediately withdraw any police investigation into the case and leave the matter to the autonomous bodies of Jawaharlal Nehru University.

 

Further signatures available at http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/university-of-illinois-stands-with-jnu-india

 

Signed, as of 14:00 GMT 19th Feb 2016 –

Tariq Khan, History

Utathya, History

Tariq Omar Ali

Natalie Nagel

Kristina Clarke-Khan

Umair Rasheed, CSAMES alumnus

Sunny Ture, Education

Muhammad Yousuf

Sara Feldman, Jewish Culture and Society

Brandon Hudspeth

Rajashekar Iyer

Raha Behnam

Deirdre Ruscitti Harshman

Kadeem Fuller

Harry Mickalide

Shwetha

Megan White, History

Mohammed Sheikh, Physics

Shikha Lakhanpal

Apoorv

Jyoti Aneja

Pronoy Rai

Padmaja

Aristotelis Panagiotopoulos

Peter Wright

Andrea Herrera

Alisha Elliott

Michelle Kenny

Marillia Correa Kuyumjian

Anustup Basu

Estibalitz Ezkerra

Rebecca Ginsburg

Richard Hamilton

Amita

Anil Bera

Aparajita Zutshi

Perla Torres

Sreoshi Banerjee

Prakrati

Mark Sanchez

Sharmila Ghosh

Elchin Gulaliyev

Stuart Levy

Dola B

Mousumi Mukherjee

Daniel Werst, UIUC Graduate

Jayadev Athreya, Adjunct Associate Professor of Mathematics

Meghan Bohardt

Bryan Parthum

2 thoughts on “UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS STANDS WITH JNU

  1. Madhuri

    WHILE SUPPORT IS POURING IN, IT IS MERELY SWIRLING AROUND IN CYBERSPACE!
    CAN KAFILA COLLATE ALL THE STATEMENTS OF SUPPORT, DO THE HEADCOUNT AND RELEASE IT TO THE PRESS– ESP HINDI PRESS WHICH IS STILL IN A NASTY FOG.. IMPORTANT TO SHOW THE SIZE OF INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIC SUPPORT. PERHAPS JNUTA AND OTHERS CAN DO A PRESS CONFERENCE.

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