Iman Awad of Emgage Action speaking at the briefing
American Sikh Council (ASC) representative Kavneet Singh attended the briefing held at the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. on January 27, 2019. This important briefing was organized by the Indian American Muslim Council – IMAC, Council on American-Islamic Relations – CAIR, Emgage Action and Hindus for Human Rights.
There was a packed audience of over 65 attendees who were engrossed in the very interesting discussion among the distinguished panelists. There were several journalists and local TV stations covering the briefing.
A short video clip was displayed which showed that over the January 25-26, 2020 weekend there have been large protests by Indian Muslim Americans and liberal Indian Hindu Americans in over two dozen cities across the US, all against the new citizenship laws of India. In fact, these new citizenship laws of India have woken up even those who had no interest in politics or India, that there have been protests worldwide against these wholly unjust and draconian laws.
The briefing was opened by Rasheed Ahmed the Director of Public Relations of IAMC with an introduction and overview of the very divisive CAA and NRC bill which has been enacted in India’s parliament. He apprised the audience about the danger of the right-wing Hindutva (RSS) groups entrenched in the US and went further to mention that ‘they’ could be even present in the audience.
Nine speakers spoke and presented various views on the implications of the National Register of Citizens of India (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Following were the speakers:
- Harrison Akins (PhD) – Policy Analyst, USCIRF
- Sandeep Pandey (PhD) – Activist, UP, India
- John Sifton (JD)– Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch
- Francisco Bencosme – Advocacy Manager, Amnesty Intl
- Iman Awad – National Legislative Director, Emgage Action
- Waris Hussain (PhD) – Adjunct Prof, Howard University School of Law
- Soumya Shankar – Journalist-Adjunct Prof, Stony Brook University
- Nihad Awad – Executive Director, CAIR
- Sunita Vishvanath – Director, Hindus for Human Rights
All the speakers were seriously concerned about the direction in which India is heading. Many predicted the current political situation within that country getting even more dire.
According to Jon Sifton of Human Rights Watch, “The highly controversial new NRC and CAA laws could ultimately lead to Genocide of certain religious groups in India.”
(L – R) Harrison Akins, John Sifton, Francisco Bencosme of Amnesty Intl speaking and Rasheed Ahmed
Sandeep Pandey who flew in from India to speak at the briefing, reiterated, “I have been an eyewitness to so many instances where the police have acted like complete goons and committed criminal acts of violence against innocent Muslim families.”
Iman Awad of Emgage Action stated, “All the orgs. should stand in solidarity and continue advocacy to make change happen.”
It was heartening to see that this event seemed to show one aspect, i.e., many diverse groups joining together to work concurrently in order to achieve a common goal.
Most attendees agreed that there is much to do, including much more cooperation amongst different faith groups. Keeping up the pressure through lobbying, engaging with the media while continuing protests across the spectrum was something everyone agreed on! The, over three and half-hour event ended around 1 pm.