India’s citizenship law sparks protests in South Africa

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JOHANNESBURG/ CAPE TOWN: South Africans protested in Cape Town against India’s new citizenship law, which critics claim could turn the country’s minorities into second-class citizens.

“We demand the Indian government to immediately revoke three discriminatory pieces of legislation — the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Transgender Persons Act,” protest organizer Rehana Khan Parker said at the demonstration outside India’s consulate general in the capital.

 

Thousands of people have been protesting across India since Dec. 11 to oppose the new citizenship law backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The legislation makes it easier for people from non-Muslim minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who settled in India before 2015 to obtain Indian citizenship.

 

The protesters, who included young children, carried placards reading “Increasing fascism in India is a threat to global peace” and “India stop killing of minorities #FreeKashmir.” In their list of demands, they urged the Indian government to immediately repeal both the CAA and proposed NRC acts.

 

“Release all unjustly detained protestors and suspend police brutality against protestors!” Parker said. It was the second protest against India’s citizenship law to take place in South Africa in less than a month. Last month, scores of South Africans protested at the Indian consulate general in Johannesburg against the same laws.

 

In a recent interview, Iqbal Jassat, executive member of the Johannesburg-based advocacy group Media Review Network (MRN), appealed to South Africa’s ruling African National Congress-led government to break its silence on India’s atrocities and killings.

 

“We are deeply concerned about the inexplicable muted stance of President Cyril Ramaphosa. The horror inflicted upon India’s marginalized population — including mass arrests, torture and abductions of student activists — and the erosion of freedom of the press ought to be condemned at the highest level within the South African government,” Jassat said.

 

Officials of the Indian consulate general declined to receive the memorandum from the protesters. However, the protesters vowed to give it to the sheriff to deliver it to them on their behalf.

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