In Solidarity With The Dissenting Student Community In India: A Statement From Australia

As academics, students, writers, artists and activists from Australia, we condemn the use of oppressive power by the Indian state, its police, and Hindu fundamentalist groups to shut down voices of dissent emerging from within public universities in India.

We join the international community in extending our support to the students, faculty and staff at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Hyderabad Central University (HCU) and many other public universities, who have been courageously protesting the overreach of state power and brutal stifling of dissent, carried out in the guise of majoritarian Hindu nationalism (Hindutva).

Students at JNU and HCU have been targeted for opposing the death penalty awarded to Afzal Guru and Yakub Memon, convicted for “terrorism” by the Supreme Court of India. Students’ opposition to the death penalty – an act of violence carried out by the state to assert its sovereign might – has been manipulated by the state, university administrators, and irresponsible media reports, to be understood as their support for “terrorists”, and thus considered treasonous. The labelling of student activists as “anti-national” by invoking the draconian law on sedition (a legacy of British colonial rule), is a blatant attack on academic freedom. These attacks have been orchestrated by the BJP regime to strike fear among citizens who question its practices of anti-minority religious hate mongering and xenophobic propaganda. HCU student Rohith Vemula was suspended and driven to suicide because of the way the university administration and the state intimidated and threatened him. These attacks on students and free speech are not aberrations or sudden spurts of violence. Rather, they are part of a pattern of attacks on every idea and expression that does not pander to fascist Hindutva ideology.

We deplore the attack on journalists, students, academics and activists by the lawyers at the Patiala House Court premises. The silence and inaction of the police in controlling this situation only testify to the state’s complicity in these events. We are appalled by the jingoistic and prejudiced reporting by some media channels to vilify JNU student activists Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid.

We endorse the demands made by the protesting students, staff and faculty at JNU and HCU. We demand: a) the immediate release of the Kanhaiya Kumar, President of the JNU Student Union, and Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya; b) that the Bar Council of India enquiry into the attacks on journalists and protestors in Patiala House Court be carried out without political manipulation; c) that there should be no further intimidation and arrests of student activists for carrying out peaceful protests; d) the government must preserve the autonomy of universities and de-militarise campuses.

We acknowledge that our solidarity is being extended from territory occupied by a settler colonial state. We also acknowledge that the Indigenous peoples who have not ceded their sovereignty, own this land. This acknowledgement is a necessary precondition for building transnational solidarity against governments – like those in India and Australia – that use democracy and national security as alibis for legitimising their everyday violence.

Endorsed By:

  1. Debolina Dutta, PhD Researcher and Lawyer, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne
  2. Oishik Sircar, Teaching Fellow and Doctoral Researcher, Institute for International Law and the Humanities, Melbourne Law School
  3. Samia Khatun, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of History, University of Melbourne
  4. Shakira Hussein, Hon. Research Fellow, The University of Melbourne
  5. Mridula Nath Chakraborty, Academic, Monash University
  6. Irfan Ahmad, Associate Professor of Political Anthropology, ACU, Melbourne, Australia
  7. Rajgopal Saikumar, PhD Candidate, The Australian National University
  8. James Goodman, Associate Professor, University of Technology Sydney
  9. Kama Maclean, Associate Professor, UNSW
  10. Monique Hameed, Tutor, University of Melbourne
  11. Jordy Silverstein, Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Melbourne
  12. Heather Goodall, Professor Emerita in History, University of Technology Sydney
  13. Sukhmani Khorana, Lecturer, University of Wollongong
  14. Dr Zeena Elton, Independent Researcher/Writer
  15. Trish May, PhD student, UNSW
  16. Maryam Alavi Nia, PhD Candidate, UNSW
  17. Assa Doron, Academic , Australian National University
  18. Meera Ashar, Lecturer (Assistant Professor), The Australian National University
  19. Samanthi Gunawardana, Lecturer, Monash University
  20. Josh Cullinan, Secretary, Australia Bangladesh Solidarity Network
  21. Dr Lionel Bopage, Retired Public Servant, n/a
  22. Neeti Aryal Khanal, PhD candidate, Monash University
  23. Erin Watson-Lynn, Lecturer, Monash University
  24. Roanna Gonsalves, Writer and academic, UNSW
  25. Michelle de Kretser, Writer, University of Sydney
  26. Dr Ruth De Souza, Stream Leader, Research, Policy and Evaluation, , Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health
  27. Hannah Courtney, PhD Candidate, UNSW
  28. Dr Danny Butt, Lecturer, Centre for Cultural Partnerships, Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne
  29. John Zubrzycki, PhD Candidate, University of New South Wales
  30. Ben Spies-Butcher, Senior Lecturer, Macquarie University, Australia
  31. Camilla Palmer, Postgraduate Researcher, University of New South Wales
  32. Brenda Dobia, Senior Lecturer, Western Sydney University
  33. Coel Kirkby, Law Fellow, Melbourne Law School
  34. Elizabeth King, Student, UNSW
  35. Rajpaul Sandhu, Teaching, ACS
  36. David Feith, Subject Coordinator, Humanities, Monash College
  37. Wimal Jayakody, Member of PHRE
  38. Steve Pereira , Community Engagement, Melbourne University
  39. Anura, Real Estate Sales, PHRE
  40. Sithy Marikar, Vice President – AGGSl, Australian Labor Party
  41. S. R. Sivasubramaniam, Engineer
  42. Padraic Gibson, Senior Researcher, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology Sydney
  43. Vandana Ram, Artist
  44. Victoria Baldwin, Administrator
  45. Robin Jeffrey, Retired Academic
  46. Nadia Rhook, Lecturer, Latrobe University
  47. Mohamed Masood, President, Werribee Islamic centre
  48. Anthony P. D’Costa, Chair and Professor of Contemporary Indian Studies, University of Melbourne
  49. Yamini Narayanan, ARC DECRA Senior Research Fellow, Deakin University
  50. Monimalika Sengupta, PhD Candidate, Monash University
  51. Parichay Patra, Doctoral Candidate, Monash University, Australia
  52. Lucy Honan, Teacher, Australian Education Union Councillor
  53. Arka Chattopadhyay, PhD student, University of Western Sydney
  54. Rev.Dato’ Dr.Sumana Siri, Buddhist Cardinal of Europe, Buddhist Realists’ Movement, U.K.,Italy & France
  55. Kalpana Ram, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Macquarie University
  56. Dr Sagar Sanyal, Adjunct lecturer, University of Melbourne
  57. Piergiorgio Moro, Secretary, Australia Asia Worker Links
  58. Beth Sometimes, Researcher, VCA, Melbourne University
  59. Russell Smith, Lecturer, Australian National University
  60. Anuparna Mukherjee, Ph.D. Researcher, ANU
  61. Amy Thomas, PhD Candidate, University of Technology, Sydney
  62. Shak Sandhu, Restaurant Manager
  63. Stephen Church, Doctoral Student/Casual Lecturer & Tutor, University of New South Wales
  64. Angela Smith, Researcher, North Africa Mixed Migration Task Force
  65. Balraj Sangha, Justice Of The Peace, Australian Labor Party
  66. Emma Torzillo, Medical Doctor, University of Sydney and Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney
  67. Anne Brewster, Associate Professor, UNSW
  68. Lalitha Chelliah, Nurse, 3 CR Broadcaster; Socialist Alliance member
  69. Max Kaiser, PhD Candidate, University of Melbourne
  70. Dr Amanda Gilbertson, McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Melbourne
  71. Faisal Al-Asaad, Graduate Research, University of Melbourne
  72. Jerome Small, Industrial Organiser, Socialist Alternative
  73. Milo Adler-Gillies, Student, Paris 8
  74. Priya Chacko, Lecturer, University of Adelaide
  75. Vivien Seyler, Administrative Officer, South Asian Studies Association of Australiaa
  76. Bina Fernandez, Senior Lecturer, University of Melbourne
  77. Ghassan Hage, Professor, University of Melbourne
  78. Maria Elander, Lecturer in Criminology, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne
  79. Edward Mussawir, Lecturer, Griffith University
  80. Julia Lomas, PhD Candidate, Art History And Theory, Monash University
  81. Chris Andrews, Associate Professor, Western Sydney University
  82. Ben Silverstein, Lecturer, UNSW
  83. Alexandra Watkins, Academic, Deakin University
  84. Isabella Ofner, Researcher and Lecturer, The University of Melbourne
  85. Bina D’Costa, Academic, Department of International Relations, The Australian National University
  86. Shweta Kishore, Teaching Associate, Monash University
  87. Léuli Eshraghi, PhD Candidate, Monash University
  88. Dr. Ridwanul Hoque, Visiting Scholar at La Trobe Law School, La Trobe University
  89. Kristen Smith, Medical Anthropologist, University of Melbourne
  90. Joan Nestle, Independent Writer
  91. Adrian McNeil, Senior Lecturer, Monash University
  92. Parakrama Niriella, Theatre and Film Director, National Federation of Theatre Artists Sri Lanka
  93. Cait Storr, Sessional lecturer and PhD candidate, Melbourne Law School
  94. Greg Bailey, Hon. Research Fellow in Asian Studies (Sanskrit), La Trobe University
  95. Ian Woolford, Lecturer, La Trobe University
  96. Michael Stevenson, Retired
  97. Dolly Kikon, Department of Anthropology and Development Studies, University of Melbourne
  98. Jasmine Ali, Researcher, RMIT University
  99. Dr Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt, Senior Fellow, Resource, Environment & Development Program, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University
  100. Alison Young, Professor, University of Melbourne
  101. Usha Natarajan, Law Professor, American University in Cairo
  102. Ekta Sharma, Poet & Activist
  103. Rose Parfitt, Research Fellow, Melbourne Law School
  104. Suzette Mayr, PhD Student, University of New South Wales
  105. Leigh Hopkinson, Writer
  106. Amy Parish, PhD Candidate, UNSW
  107. Samantha Balaton-Chrimes, Lecturer In International Studies, Deakin University
  108. Audrey Yue, Associate Professor, The University of Melbourne (BeyondHeadlines)