University of Michigan stands in solidarity with JNU
University of Michigan stands in solidarity with JNU
Stanford University, Palo Alto, California
21 February 2016
We, the undersigned students, alumni, and faculty of Stanford University, stand in solidarity with students and faculty of JNU. We strongly condemn the unconstitutional and undemocratic arrest of Kanhaiya Kumar and the continuing police action on the JNU campus. We demand that the government release Kanhaiya Kumar immediately, and drop all charges against him. We demand the cessation of all legal proceedings against Umar Khalid, Rama Naga, Anant Prakash, Ashutosh Kumar and Anirban Bhattacharya, and that they be provided security against the violence of the Hindu Right.
During the past week, we followed the state’s use of archaic colonial laws of sedition to clamp down on political dissent. We were dismayed by the JNU administration’s complicity in allowing the police to enter campus and search hostels goes against the autonomy of the university, which was designed precisely to ensure freedom of political dissent. The continuing action by the JNU administration against students reveals their complicity with the Hindu Right. The Indian mass media’s demonisation of student political activity has not only carried and propagated the state’s autocratic brief, but has granted legitimacy to the ensuing violence against students. The subsequent attacks on students and faculty at the Patiala House court by goons dressed as lawyers confirmed the nexus between the state, Hindu Right, and administrative bodies (such as the one at JNU university).
The events at JNU are not unique. They are one amongst a series of larger attempts to curb freedoms, by outlawing political organizations including those on campus, as well as slowly undermine central educational institutions which accelerates the shift towards privatisation of education. In Kanhaiya Kumar’s arrest on the ludicrous charge of sedition, we hear echoes of the temporary derecognition of the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle at IIT-Madras, and the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula. In those instances too, we saw the presence of the state-Hindu Right-university nexus that curbed political freedom.
As our friends at the University of Chicago noted in their solidarity statement, the nationalism advocated by the Hindu Right is predicated on imagining an enemy. “Its political program imagines the citizen as upper caste, heterosexual, male, Hindu; its economic program necessitates a blind faith in neoliberalism; and its social program continually imagines an enemy – the Muslim, the Dalit, the Left.” It is this imagined “enemy” of the Hindu Right that faces the risk of being labelled “anti-national” every time there is political dissent. We protest the actions of the present BJP government because we do not agree with them that only upper-caste heterosexual, Hindu men are entitled to citizenship rights. This is a dire situation for us, the citizens of India, that demands we rally around the specific case of JNU even as we resist the larger project of the Hindu Right. We would do well to bear in mind Kanhaiya Kumar’s reminder that “we don’t need a certificate of patriotism from the RSS.”
As students and teachers, we value above all freedom of thought and action. We cherish the space for critical thinking, open discourse and political dissent that universities offer. Opening up room for disagreement and the free flow of ideas is not a by-product of the educational process, but its very essence.
We, the undersigned students, alumni, and faculty of Stanford University, stand in solidarity with the students and faculty of JNU.
Megha Patnaik, PhD Student, Department of Economics
Mayukh Samanta, MS&E alumnus, Class of 2015
Jisha Menon, Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dept. of Theater and Performance Studies
Vivek V. Narayan, Graduate Student, Dept. of Theater and Performance Studies
Thomas Blom Hansen, Reliance-Dhirubhai Ambani Professor in South Asian Studies and Professor in Anthropology; Director, Stanford’s Center for South Asia
Sadhana Senthilkumar, Undergraduate Student
Siddharth Patel, Ph.D. candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Rush Rehm, Professor, Dept. of Theater and Performance Studies, and Classics; and Artistic Director, Stanford Repertory Theater (SRT)
Trisha Shetty, Undergraduate Student
Shiv Vadivelalagan, Dept. of International Policy Studies
Anna Schultz, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology, Dept of Music
Anunay Kulshrestha, Undergraduate Student
Linda Hess, Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Religious Studies,
Luladay Price, Undergraduate Student
Anubha Anushree, Dept. of History
Japsimran Kaur, Undergraduate Student
Milind Rao, Graduate student, Department of Electrical Engineering
Adeel Arif, MS, MS&E ’12
Asha Chigurupati, Stanford Alumnus, Class of 2015
Melanie Rodrigues, Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Surgery
Afroz Zain Algiers, PhD Student, Civil & Environmental Engineering
Even as reports of Kanhaiya Kumar being beaten under the police’s gaze have surfaced, and a tense standoff between the people of Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Delhi police drags on, various academic communities from around the world have written in with their support for the students. The ones The Wire has received are collected and reproduced, in full, below.
We, the undersigned, students, faculty, alumni, and staff at the New School University, New York, stand in solidarity with the students, staff, and faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, in their protests against the militarization of the campus and suppression of dissent by anti-democratic and divisive Hindu nationalist groups allied with the Modi government.
We condemn the arrest and detention of JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar, the criminalization of peaceful demonstration and healthy debate through the use of anti-democratic sedition laws, and the surveillance, intimidation, harassment of and outright brutality and use of force against members of the JNU community.
We condemn the Modi administration’s part in the complex of factors that led Ph.D. student Rohith Vemula to decide to end his life; we condemn the use of party machinery to expel and intimidate minority and marginalized students who are already underrepresented and face constant discrimination in an Indian university system that largely maintains and consolidates the power of upper caste Hindu elites; we condemn the blatant complicity of the police and mainstream media and the inflammatory statements made by Arnab Goswami, among others; and we condemn this latest attack on academia that the state has also opportunistically used to draw attention away from Dalit struggle on campuses and its part in expelling Rohith Vemula.
We affirm a shared transnational struggle to bring to light and address long legacies of colonialism, marginalization and erasure in our scholarship, institutions, and communities. We find the Indian government’s use of colonial era sedition laws deeply disturbing, and its use of anti-colonial rhetoric to demonize progressive politics manifestly hypocritical.
Recent statements by Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of Education Smriti Irani are indicative of the fundamental opposition of the current regime to free thought and expression, and show the degree to which BJP politicians enjoy impunity for their part in the systematic suppression of dissent that the Modi administration and its associated complex of Hindu nationalist organizations has carried out since its rise to power. Student protests have been quashed, forestalled, and criminalized through the use of every tactic possible. ABVP chapters across campuses have orchestrated a concerted campaign of intimidation, aided by massive police complicity and the full support of state, police and media, to suppress talks, film screenings, and peaceful demonstrations, threaten and harass students, faculty and staff, and start smear campaigns condoning and inciting the use of violence against scholars deemed “anti-national”. The Modi government routinely targets scholars already made vulnerable by multiple axes of marginalization, seeking to silence their dissent at the expense of their safety and their lives.
The Modi government seeks to criminalize any disagreement with India’s undemocratic actions as “anti-national”. This “anti-nationalism” can only have meaning in relation to an imagined nation that is, at its core, fascist. Such a nation equates the peaceful expression of dissent with violence in order to justify its own brute force, creating a cycle that has no hope of ending when every avenue of democratic accountability is being systematically infiltrated or removed.
As members of a university that was founded on exile and resistance to fascism and that shares with JNU a fundamental commitment to justice, we stand with the courageous and inspiring protests at JNU and call on scholars and allies everywhere to do the same.
Jasveen Sarna, BA Literary Studies, Eugene Lang College
Sabrina Garity, MFA Creative Writing Non Fiction
Melissa Guerrero, Eugene Lang College
Luis Herran Avila, PhD, Politics and History, The New School For Social Research
Joshua Lacle, BA, Theater, Eugene Lang College
Tamara Oyola-Santiago, Wellness and Health Promotion
Ana Miljak, BA Literary Studies, Eugene Lang College
Andrew P. Tucker, Design & Urban Ecologies
Evangeline Scazzero, Journalism+Design Junior, Eugene Lang College
Ryan Khosravi, BA, Culture and Media, Eugene Lang College
Masoom Moitra, Student Co- Chair, Social Justice Committee, MS Design and Urban Ecologies, Parsons School of Design
As a co-chair of the Social Justice Committee at The New School, I strongly condemn these actions. They not only have a grave impact on the lives of students who have directly been targeted by the government, they have a long-term impact on the future of institutions that are supposed to nurture and cultivate lovingly, the minds of students in the country. This is a massive betrayal. The concept of ‘sedition’ is obsolete and must be destroyed! This is an insult to the idea of a democracy!
Geeti Das, PhD Candidate, Politics, The New School For Social Research
The attacks on Rohith Vemula, MM Kalburgi, Kanhaiya Kumar, FTII, and JNU are the actions of those who respond to their own fear by trying to create it in others. No student should find themselves left with only the hope of “knowing other worlds” because the one in which they find themselves so devalues their brilliance and their humanity. A just and democratic society can have no reason to meet peaceful dissent with brute force.
Nihira Ram, Freshman, Eugene Lang College
Kumar Kartik Amarnath, MS, Design and Urban Ecologies; School of Design Strategies; Parsons School of Design
Jamie Piper, Screen Studies, Eugene Lang College, Sophomore
Aliyah Hakim, BA, Theater, Eugene Lang College
Mariana Bomtempo, School of Design Strategies
Gamar Markarian, MS Design and Urban Ecologies, School of Design Strategies, Parsons
Sascia Bailer, MA Theories of Urban Practice, Parsons
Nicholas Allanach, Dir. of Academic Operations (& alumnus, 2006)
Miriam Ticktin, Associate Professor, Anthropology
Kelsey Podaras, Eugene Lang College
Adriana Herrera Perhamus, BA Culture and Media, Eugene Lang College
Silvia Resende Xavier, MS Design and Urban Ecologies, School of Design Strategies, Parsons School of Design
chris crews, Politics, New School for Social Research
An attack against one is an attack against all.
Katyayani Dalmia, PhD Candidate, Anthropology, New School for Social Research
FaDi Shayya, MA, Theories of Urban Practice
J. Ricky Price, PhD Candidate Politics, New School for Social Research
E Condon, BA/BFA dance/fine arts
oona sullivan, BA, Psychology, Eugene Lang College
Suhyun Choi, Fine Arts, Parsons School of Design
Rachel Heiman, Associate Professor of Anthropology
Horace Charles, Administrative Assistant, English Language Studies, NSPE (BA, 2015)
Luis L., Philosophy
Margarita Velasco, Politics, New School for Social Research (2008)
Daniel Younessi, PhD
Jawied Nawabi, MA in Economics (2008) and Ph.D in Sociology (2014)
Lopamudra Banerjee, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, New School for Social Research
Marielle Tejada Taveras, Sociology/Global Studies
Rishabh Kumar, PhD Economics, New School for Social Research
Tait Mandler, Design and Urban Ecologies, Parsons
Kieran Gannon, MA, Theories of Urban Practice
Jasmine Rault, Assistant Professor, Culture and Media, Eugene Lang College, The New School
Alexandria Eisenbarth, Ph.D., Economics, New School for Social Research
H Howell Williams, PhD candidate, New School for Social Research, Politics
Brandon Fischer, Staff – SPE – GLUE (alumnus, 2015)
Chelsea Ebin, PhD Politics, New School for Social Research
Joel de Lara, Philosophy
Issachar Curbeon Dieng, Global Studies
Johanna Oksala, Visiting Professor, Department of Politics, The New School for Social Research
Blair Bainbridge, MA, Anthropology
Samuel Miller, MA
Tamara Alvarez Fernandez, PhD Anthropology, New School for Social Research
Cagla Orpen, PhD student in Politics and History, New School for Social Research
Kevin Aportela-Flores, MA, Politics
Soheil Asefi, Graduate student, Politics department, and Independent journalist and scholar at The New School for Social Research
Michael Isaacson, Economics
Alix Jansen, MA Politics, New School for Social Research
Ilker Aslantepe, PhD, Economics, New School for Social Research
Jackie Vimo, PhD Candidate, Politics, New School for Social Research
Eli Nadeau, MA candidate, Politics 2016, MFA Creative Writing, 2013
Alexandra Délano, Assistant Professor of Global Studies
Susan Austin, Staff
Franziska König-Paratore, PhD
Eli Lichtenstein, MA in Philosophy
Greig Roselli, MA, Philosophy, New School for Social Research
Alex Altonji, MA Philosophy (2015)
Ramaa Vasudevan, Visiting Scholar
Sara Shroff, Phd Candidate, New School for Public Engagement
Veronica Sousa, MA, Anthropology
Julienne Obadia, Doctoral Candidate
Christopher DellaCamera, Journalism
Katherine Moos, PhD Student
Amanda Zadorian, Ph.D. Candidate, Politics, NSSR
Micha Steinwachs, BA (2015)
George Fisher, Part-time faculty, Mannes School of Music
The right to peaceful dissent without punishment or harassment should belong to all people in civilized society.
Rhea Rahman, PhD Candidate
Rachel Knopf Shey, Assistant Director Wellness and Health promotion, Student Health Services
Jonathan Bach, Associate Professor
Kemi Soyeju, M.A. Psychology
Douglas de Toledo Piza, PhD student, Sociology, New School for Social Research
On Sunday, Vivek Kumar, professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University’s School of Social Sciences, was attacked by activists of the Bharatiya Junta Yuva Morcha as he spoke at Gwalior’s Bal Bhavan. Kumar has done extensive research on Dalit assertions and political mobilisations. The BJYM, which is the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party, called his speech “provocative and anti-national”. Kumar now recounts what he talked about and asks some questions.
Read more here.
Alumni and current students of JNU and UoH staying in Nagaland held a solidarity march yesterday in Dimapur, Nagaland.