Thursday, February 18, 2016

Noam Chomsky, Orhan Pamuk condemn Modi govt's "authoritarian menace", "unlawful" arrests at JNU

Chomsky, Pamuk
By Our Representative
International pressure against police action against Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) sharply shot, with top names including Noam Chomsky, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, and Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Laureate, Turkey, condemning "the culture of authoritarian menace that the present government in India has generated".
Calling the government move to invoke the colonial sedition law against the “unlawful arrest” of JNU Students Union president Kanhaiya Kumar “shameful”, the statement says, the charge of inciting violence is “without any proof whatever of such wrongdoing on his part.”
The statement, which has been signed by 133 prominent academics across the world, the statement quotes “reports of a large number of witnesses and the most highly respected journalists in the country”, saying, “This arrest is further evidence of the present government’s deeply authoritarian nature.”
Other major signatories include Jonathan Cole, Former Provost of Columbia University, USA; Judith Butler, Professor of Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley; Richard N Zare, Professor of Chemistry, Stanford University, USA; Robert Wade, Professor of International Development, London School of Economics, UK, among others.
The statement says, it also shows that the Government of India is “intolerant of any dissent, setting aside India’s longstanding commitment to toleration and plurality of opinion, replicating the dark times of an oppressive colonial period and briefly of the Emergency in the mid-1970s.”

Known facts

Pointing towards “known facts that no impartial observer denies”, the statement says, “In a student meeting, acting well within the rights he possesses by the law of the land, Kumar spoke critically of the BJP government’s policies.”
It further says, “On the previous day, at some other event, which he had no part in organising and at which he did not speak, a handful of other students, not even identifiable as students of the university, were shouting slogans about the rights of Kashmiris to independence from Indian military oppression over the last many decades.”
It adds, “Kumar, whose speech (widely available on a video) cannot in any way be connected with the slogans uttered on the previous day, was nonetheless arrested for ‘anti-national’ behaviour and for violating the sedition laws against the incitement to violence.”
Insisting that “actions of the police have brought great dishonour to the government”, the statement says, “The failure of the Vice-Chancellor to speak out against these actions and, moreover, to allow the suspension of seven other students on charges that have not been established by a fair and transparent inquiry, will bring great dishonour to the most prominent university in the country in the eyes of the academy all over the world.”
Expressing “heartfelt solidarity with the students and faculty of Jawaharlal Nehru University”, the statement appreciates “their efforts to resist these developments on its campus and, in the name of the liberties that India and Indian universities until recently could take for granted.”
It says, “We not only condemn the culture of authoritarian menace that the present government in India has generated, but urge all those genuinely concerned about the future of India and Indian universities to protest in wide mobilisation against it.”

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