Guest Post by Students and Teachers of Syracuse University, Colgate University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
We, the undersigned at Syracuse University, Colgate University, and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, are in solidarity with our comrades 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 further demand that the Central Government put an immediate end to its prejudiced persecution of student activists on campuses across the country.
We strongly believe that the charge of sedition against Kanhaiya Kumar follows spurious claims. 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 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. This was not the nature of the protest held by a group of JNU students against the judiciary’s decision regarding Afzal Guru, who was convicted of an attack on the Indian parliament. The peaceful protest held on February 9 on campus was not unlike other protests convened at the university over the last several decades. 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. Continue reading Stand With JNU – SUNY College, Colgate and Syracuse Universities for Academic Freedom in India