Faculty, Students and Staff, Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and University of Rhode Island, Providence, U.S.

26th February 2016

We, the undersigned, at Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and University of Rhode Island, strongly condemn the violence unleashed by the BJP, RSS, ABVP, and the Delhi Police within and outside the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus over the last few days.

We demand the immediate withdrawal of the unfounded, unjust and archaic charges brought against JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar, and of his release from custody. The invocation of colonial laws on sedition, while labeling people as “anti-national,” has been used as a tool to criminalize dissenting opinions and political and social movements that challenge the status quo. These allegations of ‘anti-national’ behaviour, are being used by the government as an alibi to raid hostels and disrupt peaceful demonstrations, violently assault students and faculty, and flagrantly violate the constitutional rights of the university community.

We further believe that the charges of ‘sedition’ and ‘anti-national activities’ being brought against Umar Khalid and other students (based on claims that they resorted to anti-India slogans and spoke out for Kashmir’s right to self-determination) reflects the failure of the state to respect critiques and engage meaningfully with disagreements, the failure to appreciate the value of robust, diverse and politically vibrant public universities, and the failure to concede that freedom of speech, especially against state injustice, is a fundamental right.

We strongly condemn this increasingly prevalent tendency to unleash state-sponsored violence and intimidation techniques on university campuses, to stifle students’ voices and scuttle academic freedoms. This is connected to a more general culture of intolerance towards any opinion that articulates dissent or resistance against the capitalist, casteist and Hindu fundamentalist government, evident most recently in the systematic harassment and tragic death of the Dalit student Rohith Vemula at the University of Hyderabad.

An open, tolerant and pluralistic society must be measured not by self-appointed gatekeepers of ‘nationalism’ from a dominant caste, religion or community, but by the degree to which that society fosters critical thinking and freedom of speech. The current political environment—the vicious slander against dissenting students and the maligning of the university on social media and television—poses a growing threat to such freedoms in India, and is of concern not only to members of JNU but to students and engaged citizens around the world. We therefore extend our solidarity with the JNU students in their struggle, and express our hopes for a long-term, united movement towards a more just and a truly free society.

Signatories:

  1. Magnus Pharao Hansen, Graduate Student, Anthropology, Brown University
  2. Juan F. Santoyo, Staff, Neuroscience, Brown University
  3. Shishav Parajuli, Graduate Student, Poitical Science/Theory, Brown University
  4. Lakshmi Padmanabhan, Graduate Student, Modern Culture and Media/History, Brown University
  5. Christopher J. Lee, Graduate Student, English, Brown University
  6. Bryan Moorefield, Graduate Student, Anthropology, Brown University
  7. Anne Gray Fischer, Graduate Student, History, Brown University
  8. Felix Green, Graduate Student, Brown University
  9. Paja Faudree, Faculty, Anthropology, Brown University
  10. Genoviva Coker, Graduate Student, Public Health, Brown University
  11. Lydia Kelow-Bennett, Graduate Student, Africana Studies, Brown University
  12. Faiz Khan, Graduate Student, Brown University
  13. Yeong Ran Kim, Graduate Student, TAPS, Brown University
  14. Noga Rotem, Graduate Student, Political Science, Brown University
  15. Kanksha Barman, Graduate Student, Center for Language Studies, Brown University
  16. Rama Srinivasan, Graduate Student, Anthropology, Brown University
  17. Pavitra Govindan, Graduate Student, Economics, Brown University
  18. Veronica Ciocanel, Graduate Student, Applied Mathematics, Brown University
  19. Esha Sraboni, Graduate Student, Brown University
  20. Rajeev Kadambi, Graduate Student, Political Science/Theory, Brown University
  21. Puneet Bhasin, Graduate Student, Political Science, Brown University
  22. Andi, Graduate Student, Anthropology, Brown University
  23. Julia Gettle, Graduate Student, History, Brown University
  24. Dennis Johannssen, Graduate Student, German Studies, Brown University
  25. Matthew Ellis, Graduate Student, Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
  26. Sertac Sen, Graduate Student, Anthropology, Brown University
  27. Benjamin Bellman, Graduate Student, Sociology, Brown University
  28. Simran Vazirani, Graduate Student, Public Policy, Brown University
  29. Elizabeth Dean Hermann, Faculty, Division of Architecture and Design, RISD
  30. Suvaid Yaseen, Graduate Student, History, Brown University
  31. Miriam Rainer, Graduate Student, German Studies, Brown University
  32. Darien Acero, Undergraduate Student, Religious studies, Brown University
  33. Colin, Graduate Student, Applied Mathematics, Brown University
  34. Vazira Zamindar, Faculty, History, Brown University
  35. Dorin Smith, Graduate Student, English, Brown University
  36. Anindita Adhikari, Graduate Student, Sociology, Brown University
  37. Kaustav Chakrabarti, Graduate Student, Political Science, Brown University
  38. Stephanie Galasso, Graduate Student, Brown University
  39. Bhrigupati Singh, Faculty, Anthropology, Brown university
  40. Brian Horton, Graduate Student, Anthropology, Brown University
  41. Prerna Singh, Faculty, Political Science, Brown University
  42. Rijuta Mehta, Faculty, Modern Culture and Media, Brown University
  43. Erik Ehn, Faculty, Theatre Arts, Brown University
  44. Michael D. Kennedy, Faculty, Sociology and International and Public Affairs, Brown University
  45. Viraj Sikand, Undergraduate Student, Environmental Science, Brown University
  46. Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Faculty, Art & Art History/Art, University of Rhode Island
  47. Uday Shriram, Graduate Student, Neuroscience/Biotechnology, Brown University
  48. Karie Fisher, Staff, Watson Institute, Brown University
  49. Catherine, Graduate Student, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology, Steidl University
  50. Jessica Katzenstein, Graduate Student, Anthropology, Brown University
  51. Malay Firoz, Graduate Student, Anthropology, Brown University
  52. Kay Warren, Faculty, Anthropology, Brown University
  53. Patrick Mayne, Graduate Student, Sociology, Brown University
  54. Quinn Bernier, Graduate Student, Sociology, Brown University
  55. Abhilash Medhi, Graduate Student, History, Brown University
  56. Ferris Lupino, Graduate Student, Political Science, Brown University
  57. Cecilia Garza, Undergraduate Student, Development Studies, Brown University
  58. Nur Yasemin Bavbek, Graduate Student, Sociology, Brown University
  59. Charlotte Buecheler, Graduate Student, Comparative Literature, Brown University
  60. Apoorva Bhandari, Staff, CLPS, Brown University
  61. Jammie Chomsky, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  62. Rehan Jamil, Graduate Student, Political Science, Brown University
  63. Shreena Thakore, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  64. Emily Cunniffe, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  65. Arohi Kapoor, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  66. Aidan Dunbar, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  67. Divya Mehta, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  68. Sebastian Clark, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  69. India Ennenga, Brown University
  70. Ryan Lee, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  71. Aanchal Saraf, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  72. Eli Neuman-Hammond, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  73. Athena Washburn, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  74. Mackenzie Abernethy, Staff, School of Professional Studies, Brown University
  75. Maya Sorabjee, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  76. Tathya Abe, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  77. Sheena Raza Faisal, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  78. Tuba Tariq, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  79. Jagdeep Raina, RISD
  80. Nicole Burrowes, Faculty, History, Brown University
  81. Valentine Moro, Podova University
  82. Terrence George, Graduate Student, Mathematics, Brown University
  83. Syeda Masood, Graduate Student, Sociology, Brown University
  84. Hannah Marshall, Graduate Student, Anthropology, Brown University
  85. Jan Stockbruegger, Graduate Student, Political Science, Brown University
  86. Kudrat Wadhwa, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  87. Yashas Vaidya, Graduate Student, Sociology, Brown University
  88. Taylor Johnson, RISD
  89. Dennis Congdon, Faculty, Painting, RISD
  90. Tenzin Lama, Undergraduate Student, Brown University
  91. Shreya Jindal, Graduate Student, Education, Brown University
  92. Patrick Heller, Faculty, Sociology, Brown University
  93. Jonathan Highfield, Faculty, English, RISD
  94. Poulomi Chakrabarti, Graduate Student, Political Science, Brown University
  95. Raghvi Bhatia, RISD
  96. Avishek Ganguly, Faculty, Literary Arts and Studies, RISD

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