Black Lives Matter

As members of the Centre for South Asian Studies we, like millions around the World, have been sickened and outraged by the killing of George Floyd and the callous brutality of the violence inflicted upon him. We join in the global calls for justice, accountability and change and stand in solidarity with George Floyd’s family and the wider Black Lives Matter movement.

We boldly declare ‘Black Lives Matter’.

We are heartened by the widespread protests that have occurred, and the spaces that these have opened up to address endemic and institutionalised racism in different contexts.

As scholars of South Asia, we are aware that racism and discrimination exist in many forms against oppressed groups and minorities. Some of the earliest South Asian statements condemning the brutal killing of George Floyd came from Dalit (formerly untouchable) groups, who themselves continue to be marginalised and discriminated against both at home and in the diaspora. The outrage we express towards atrocities elsewhere, should not blind us to those that occur within our own settings either in Edinburgh or South Asia.

Expressing our anger at racist or casteist violence is not enough. We need to be more proactive in acknowledging popular and structural racism and seeking to address such inequalities. We are painfully aware that Scotland, and our own institution of The University of Edinburgh, are not innocent in this regard. Both have been shaped by colonial legacies. As a Centre we are committed to efforts to tackle racism and fully support ongoing efforts to decolonise the curriculum and deepen understanding of the past and its legacy. We also endorse moves to attract more BAME staff and students such that we better represent the communities we are part of.

Talat Ahmed and Hugo Gorringe, Co-Directors of CSAS, Edinburgh.

Open Letter Expressing Solidarity with Anti-CAA Protests

In recent weeks we have watched with unease and alarm as policy changes have threatened the secular ethos of the constitution, police have deployed excessive force in Universities and prominent academics have been arrested. Friends and colleagues of CSAS members have been detained or caught up in the protests. Accordingly, so of our students have led on an open letter of solidarity:

We, the students and staff of the University of Edinburgh, stand in support of the nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 passed in the Parliament in spite of the widespread condemnation of it amongst the people of India. We also strongly condemn the use of violence by the State against the protesting students at Gauhati University, Jamia Milia Islamia University, Aligarh Muslim University and earlier at Jawaharlal Nehru University.

We stand against the use of force against the protesting students in and out of their respective universities. The Constitution, which clearly stands tall on the values of Freedom of Speech and Expression under Article 19(1)(a), the use of violence is completely unacceptable and must be called out by every person who believes in the values of democracy. These instances of state abuse of power stand as black spots on the fabric of democracy and open the gates of the politics of fear in times of global political uncertainties. We particularly condemn the recent brutalities in the Minority Muslim University of Jamia Islamia University, Alighar Muslim University. We, the students and staff of the University of Edinburgh shout out against such attacks on the students and stand together with the ones fighting State brutality.

We also express our deepest concerns with the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act,2019. The piece of legislation is deplorable in its attempt to grant citizenship based on religion. It contradicts the spirit of the Indian Constitution embedded in its Article 14 ( Right to Equality and Equal Protection under Law for all) as well as the values of Equality and Fraternity enshrined in the Preamble to the Constitution. CAA combined with a potential nationwide application of the National Registry of Citizens will be a toxic potion to render millions stateless based on religion if they are not able to produce enough proof of her residence in the country. Writing from the UK, we are all too aware of the dangers entailed following the ‘Windrush Scandal’ which targeted Black Britons in similar ways at immense cost.

Finally, as a community of students and academics, we urge a full and impartial inquiry against the abuse of power. We express our solidarity with the protesting students and stand with them in raising our voices against any brutalities of state and discriminatory and oppressive legislations coming in the way of a democratic establishment. We believe that silence against such acts is dangerous, for not just the country but the future of democracy and religious tolerance worldwide.

Salutes to those who are standing against it now in India,

Students and staff,
Centre for South Asian Studies
University of Edinburgh