India’s draconian Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA), and the Modi Government’s authoritarian response to protests and dissent, got a mention in the New South Wales parliament of Australia. Australian Greens Senator Mr David Shoebridge MLC moved a motion against CAA on Thursday 27 August 2020 that calls for review of Australia’s trade links with India over concern for human rights violations.
The motion called upon the Australian Government to:
“(a) require an ongoing dialogue as part of its broader engagement with the Modi administration that critically reviews Indian Citizenship(Amendment) Act, 2019, and
(b) renegotiate trade agreements between Australia and India so that they include a human rights clause.”
The Humanism Project (THP), a political advocacy group of Indian diaspora in Australia, that has played a significant role in bringing this issue to the attention of NSW MPs by providing a brief to Mr Shoebridge, issued a statement saying:
“We are grateful that the Greens have taken up this issue and we will continue to reach out to all political parties to engage with our work to promote secularism, human rights and democratic values in India and among the diaspora in Australia.”
This was yet another overseas response, in recent months, on India’s new citizenship laws and the BJP government’s brutal crackdown on human rights activists after it introduced key citizenship legislations that put the onus on Indians to prove their citizenship under the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and fast-track Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Those opposing these laws say that they open the door to legal discrimination against Muslims.
In December 2019, Democrat Pramila Jayapal introduced the Congressional resolution urging India to swiftly end restrictions on communications and preserve religious freedom for all residents in Kashmir.
In July 2020, San Francisco became the sixth US city to pass a resolution denouncing India’s contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019 and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Similar resolutions have already been passed earlier by Seattle, Albany, St Paul, Hamtramck and Cambridge.
A resolution was also tabled in the European Parliament (EP) against the India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act in February 2020.
The United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a US Government body, has downgraded India to the lowest ranking of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPC) in its 2020 report on religious freedom.
Text of Mr David Shoebridge’s motion:
I give notice that on the next sitting day I will move:
That this House notes that:
(1) That this House notes that:
(a) India’s Constitution commits it to democracy, equality, secularism, asymmetrical federalism and the protection of civil liberties, including freedom of speech and religious freedom,
(b) despite this, in December 2019, India enacted the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 which discriminates on the grounds of religion in the provision of citizenship,
(c) the citizenship legislation is effectively being used to revoke the citizenship of religious minorities and will result in statelessness for many vulnerable and marginalised groups,
(d) large numbers of people have been declared to be ‘foreigners’, detained, and left at risk of statelessness by citizenship ‘verification’ processes of questionable legality, and
(e) protests and dissent have been met with an authoritarian government response and civil liberties have been dramatically curtailed.
(2) That this House calls on the Australian Government to:
(a) require an ongoing dialogue as part of its broader engagement with the Modi administration that critically reviews Indian Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, and
(b) renegotiate trade agreements between Australia and India so that they include a human rights clause.