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With approval of Sawant resolution, Seattle condemns India’s National Register of Citizens and Citizenship Amendment Act — UPDATE

A small-sided Seattle City Council approved Kshama Sawant’s resolution opposing India’s new citizenship law in a vote Monday that include a rough and tumble public comment session.

CHS reported in January on the resolution effort brought by the Socialist Alternative council member opposing India’s National Register of Citizens and Citizenship Amendment Act. “The Seattle City Council opposes the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Act in India, and finds these policies to be discriminatory to Muslims, oppressed castes, women, indigenous, and LGBT people,” the symbolic resolution reads.

The resolution’s final vote was delayed until this week as an amendment from council member Andrew Lewis reworked the focus of the resolution from India’s parliament to, instead, urge action from the United States Congress.

In the meantime, the council also approved resolutions opposing war in Iran and a resolution on resolutions, council member Alex Pedersen’s effort at a catch-all “condemning all forms of oppression throughout the world.”

Monday’s public comment session was heated with proceedings halted at one point to restore order in the chambers.

The final tally was 5-0 with four members missing the vote.

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UPDATE: Here is a statement from Sawant on the passage. In the statement, Sawant compares the situation in India to the formation of Nazi Germany. “The National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Act by the BJP and Modi regime bear frightening similarities to the early Nuremberg laws of the Third Reich in 1930’s Germany,” she says.

Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), South Asian community members, and activists celebrated the passage of a historic Seattle City Council resolution denouncing the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) enacted by the far-right government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in India.

Seattle City Council is believed to be the first legislative body in the United States to take a stance on the CAA and NRC, which have resulted in mass protests and strike actions throughout India since the CAA passed in December 2019.

Sawant’s resolution explains that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “right-wing government published an updated NRC, requiring nearly two million people in the northeastern state of Assam to prove with documentary evidence their Indian citizenship or face detention at mass prisons and detention camps that the Indian government has begun to build and fill.”

The resolution further explains that together, the NRC and CAA threaten to strip hundreds of millions of Muslim people, poor people, and marginalized communities of their Indian Citizenship and all democratic rights, and placing large numbers in detention camps and prisons, as already seen in the state of Assam.

“The National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Act by the BJP and Modi regime bear frightening similarities to the early Nuremberg laws of the Third Reich in 1930’s Germany,” said Councilmember Sawant.

“Progressives in America fighting against Trump’s bigoted, Islamophobic, and anti-immigrant agenda need to be linked with the global fightback against the far right,” continued Sawant. “This resolution is in solidarity with the courageous youth protests in India, and with the 250 million workers and farmers who walked out on January 8 in the largest-ever one-day general strike in global history, to protest not only the dangerous anti-Muslim and anti-Dalit policies of the far-right BJP government, but also the economic devastation wrought by intensified corruption, rampant privatization and neoliberal policies, and unprecedented inequality.”

“We welcome the Seattle City Council’s resolution denouncing the divisive and draconian CAA and NRC. These acts are unconstitutional and designed to disenfranchise several million Muslim, Dalits and other minorities in order to create a fascist state.” said Javed Sikander, spokesperson for the Seattle chapter of the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC).

“Seattle is leading the moral consensus in the global outcry against the CAA. When genocidal campaigns begin, one important intervention is international condemnation, and the Seattle community feels a deep sense of solidarity with their electeds, as the time to stand against the Indian government’s Islamophobic policies is now,” said Thenmozhi Soundarajan, Executive Director of Equality Labs. “These genocidal projects happen in the shadows and this resolution highlights the significance of Seattle City Council standing up for South Asian minorities, Muslims, and caste oppressed communities.”

“As South Asians in Seattle, SABAH confirms that the CAA is not an internal issue to India, and that Seattle must take a stand against it,” said Veena Roy of SABAH. “There are thousands here in Seattle who are intimately connected to the minority experience in India, some have needed to migrate here after similar violence in the past, and many who have family in India who directly experience the violence that the Indian government clamors to keep hidden. We know that Kshama Sawant’s resolution is much more than a symbolic gesture. It has created ripples in the Greater Seattle Area, even in India. As a community of Seattle, a sanctuary city that fights for equality and safety for the undocumented, we applaud the passing of this resolution.”

“Within living memory, policies closely parallel to [the NRC and CAA] were among the first steps taken by the Nazi government of Germany in the 1930s and are now recognizable as initial steps to the Holocaust,” stated a February 3 resolution by the Board of Directors of Kadima Reconstructionist Jewish Community. “Policies such as these were central elements in centuries of systematic oppression of Jews, especially in Europe.”


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18 thoughts on “With approval of Sawant resolution, Seattle condemns India’s National Register of Citizens and Citizenship Amendment Act — UPDATE

    • wouldn’t she be more effective if she went back to India and took all she learned about civil rights with her? we’ll be okay without her and she could make enormous impact to literally a billion people.

  1. The folks who voted for Ms. Sawant must be so proud. Boy, is she really working hard to represent us citizens here. She has pretty much single-handedly solved all of our challenges, so it’s on to save the world. And I assume the four members of our illustrious City Council probably avoided this vote for obvious reasons.

    • Hey Sasha, love your “keep seething” invective. It’s one of those little verbal grenades that folks can toss into a conversation that basically says, “Neener, neener, neener…we won. So screw you.” In my questioning of Council Member Sawant, I’m merely wishing that she would do her job. I’m over the election. She is my representative. I would like her to represent me here in Seattle. Thanks for sounding like a Trump supporter.

    • Yeah, India!

      Four people who you’ve probably never heard of, in a city thousands of miles away, passed a resolution that does absolutely nothing to impact what’s happening in your country. Aren’t you honored?

      What a joke this all is.

  2. Seattle is a dynamic city with an INTERNATIONAL reputation for fairness – plus it is the home to a growing population of people from India. I think its important for our city to stand up to oppression even if it only a resolution of support. Our City Council, amongst others often do things that might seem symbolic but are actually meaningful.

    • Sure. But this should be done after they’ve tackled the challenges we face here. I have no problem with them as individuals supporting this effort. My problem with it is having them use vital time doing their jobs. While at work, if you spent hours working on “good causes” instead of doing your job, you probably wouldn’t have the job long. Or if you own your own business, and instead of running it, you did things like this, I wonder how long that business would be successful?

      • Not long. See the CHS story about Black Coffee closing back in 2016. It was the one single time the anarcho-socialists actually tried to run something on their own, without government support or subsidies in this city.

    • I’d rather have us clean up our own neighborhoods than useless grandstanding.

      I voted against her twice now, I’d rather have someone working for the concerns of our district.

  3. So, if I contact Sawant’s office to try and get her help to fix a neighborhood safety problem, I never get a call or email returned. Yet, when some activists from outside her district and city ask her to make a vain attempt at influencing India’s internal politics (?!) she jumps right on it. I suppose this is the high quality ideology-driven socialist “leadership” that makes Venezuela such a wonderful, livable place: talk about the revolution, and fiddle while the ship sinks at home.

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