Shaheen Bagh women inspire Million Women Rise 2020 in London

At the Million Women Rise 2020 march held on the eve of the International Women’s Day in London, thousands of women marched in solidarity with Shaheen Bagh, the women-led protest in Delhi against the Modi regime’s discriminatory and fascistic Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The press release issued by the South Asia Solidarity Group said that it sees the ruling regime’s measures like the CAA and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) are seen as the first step towards ethnic cleansing and genocide, while representing the vision of an exclusive Hindu state promoted by India’s Hindu supremacist BJP government led by Narendra Modi.

Speaking at the Million Women Rise rally at Trafalgar Square, Amrit Wilson from South Asia Solidarity Group said:

This is a global agenda linking India’s prime minister Modi with Trump, Netanyahu and Boris Johnson. Linking the suffering of Kashmir, Myanmar, Palestine and India to the US and UK. In India this fascism takes the form of upper-caste Hindu supremacy. The Indian government is demanding that people prove their citizenship with documents going back generations. If you are a Muslim and have no papers of this sort you will be locked up in a detention centre even if your family has always lived in the country. Massive detention centres have already been set up and many who have been detained have died there. The new Citizenship laws make religion central, for the first time. In this country we know about the horrific injustice of Windrush, we know about Yarls Wood, these are the symptoms of fascism. In India we can see the next terrifying stage. As in Hitler’s Germany, denial of citizenship to millions of people is likely to be followed by a genocide. But in these dark days, the wonderful inspiring flowers of resistance have bloomed. Muslim women, those who have been stereotyped as passive, as unresisting, have come out in their thousands, they have organised continuous sit-ins in resistance to these genocidal laws.

The Shaheen Bagh bloc at the demonstration highlighted the iconic nature of the women’s occupation in Delhi which has been going on since 14 December and has inspired hundreds of other Shaheen Baghs all over India. The protests sites have become spaces of safety and creativity where women are putting forward an alternative vision of the future in which all kinds of oppression can be challenged. Muslim women will be those most affected by the citizenship measures and they have been at the forefront of resistance, countering the stereotypes, which are also pervasive in India, of Muslim women as passive victims.

The press release also mentioned the horrific Delhi pogrom in which 53 people lost their lives and hundreds were severely injured during which Shaheen Bagh remained stoic and unshakeable. Though right-wing mobs and the police tried to intimidate women at the protests at sites such as Jaffrabad in North East Delhi, but couldn’t keep them away from continuing their peaceful protests.

The Shaheen Bagh bloc in London’s march marched alongside Turkish, Latin American and other feminists across the world and shouted slogans like, ‘Shaheen Bagh we stand with you, you won’t let the fascists through’, ‘Modi, Shah you can’t hide, you are committing genocide’ and ‘Shaheen Bagh is here to stay, until you scrap the CAA’, apart from carrying a banner with artwork produced at Shaheen Bagh.

First published in Sabrang India.