The democratic rights of India’s citizens are being torn down.
The nearly 10-year term of the country’s Hindu nationalist government — led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — has seen escalating violence and conflict against Muslims, who make up its largest minority — and a steady weakening of democratic institutions that could stand in the way.
The symbol of this assault is the bulldozer.
Last month, a fleet of bulldozers descended upon houses and shops of unsuspecting Muslim residents in India — tearing down buildings without any official notice or legal order — in what the courts have now termed "an exercise of ethnic cleansing.” Genocide Watch warns that Islamophobia “has become a state-manufactured ideology.”
Elected figures have indulged in violent Islamaphobic rhetoric: Chief Minister of India’s most populous state Yogi Adityanath, who is widely considered to be Modi’s successor, has talked about “feeding bullets” to Muslim troublemakers.
The democratic institutions designed to challenge these actions are also being torn down. Media houses and civil society groups have been subject to lawfare; India was ranked 161 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index this year. Civil society activists languish in jail without trial; the ‘Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act’ meant to curb terrorism is used to routinely imprison dissenters.
This week, political leaders around the world — including, Cornel West, Clarissa Mendoza, Jeremy Corbyn, Zarah Sultana, Vijay Prashad, Walden Bello and Yanis Varoufakis — came together in a letter organised by the Progressive International to express grave concern about this brazen bulldozer regime and the demolition of India’s democracy.
You can add your name to their call and share the news here.
Australia seeks to free Assange
63 Australian federally-elected politicians have called on the US to drop the charges against Wikileaks publisher, Australian citizen Julian Assange. In a letter sent to the Biden administration, the politicians warned of a “sharp and sustained outcry” from Australia should Assange be extradited to the United States from the United Kingdom, where he has been held for over four years.
Last Saturday, the Progressive International held an event in Chile to commemorate the 50 year anniversary of the coup against the government of Salvador Allende. You can rewatch the proceedings, including speeches from Gerardo Torres Zelaya, Evgeny Morozov, Clara López and Bhaskar Sunkara here.
Stop Amazon’s union busting
Everywhere it operates, Amazon tries to bust unions and retaliate against workers who organise. In Germany, Amazon recently fired Rainer Reising, a member of the works‘ council in Achim and one of the founding figures of Amazon Workers International. Rainer’s crime? A meeting with political representatives including the German Minister of Labour Hubertus Heil to report on Amazon’s abuses. On 19 September, workers and activists stand in solidarity with Rainer at a rally in Vreden, where a labour court will decide whether Rainer’s layoff was illegal. You can share the announcement here.
Image: Women protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, in Kolkata, India. Photo by Ritam Chakraborty.