Statement of Solidarity with Jawaharlal Nehru University, India – by the Professional Staff Congress, the City University of New York faculty and staff union (PSC-CUNY)
PSC-CUNY stands in solidarity with the students, faculty and staff of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi, India, in their struggle against state repression of political speech.
We condemn the arrest of JNU student union President, Kanhaiya Kumar, on charges of sedition and the expulsion of eight students by the university administration. The students are being persecuted by the Indian government and the university administration for participating in a rally protesting state policies and actions. It is a gross abuse of power for a democratic state to punish its citizens for exercising their right to political dissent.
JNU is not a stand-alone incident; the recent attacks on students at other universities, like Jadavpur, and University of Hyderabad where it led to the tragic suicide of Dalit activist, Rohith Vemula, are part of a pattern of harassment and repression. We believe that the targeting of politically active youth at public universities reveals the broader program of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) to push its neoliberal attack on the poor, its discriminatory agenda against minorities, its promotion of a hawkish foreign policy, and its squelching of political dissent.
We, at the City University of New York, and our fellow academics at universities throughout the USA appreciate the dangers of stifling academic freedom through our own destructive history. Our union is committed to fighting against class oppression, racism, and sexism, and to vigorously defend the right to political opposition.
We join faculty and students from across the world – including University of Texas, Doctoral Students Council, CUNY, Purdue University, Williams College in the US, Canadian universities, University of Leuven, Belgium, University of Oxford, UK, Bangalore Research Network, Tata Institute of Social Sciences and University of Hyderabad in India – to express our solidarity with the students and faculty at JNU. We call upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately cease the pattern of persecution at universities. We also call on the Vice Chancellor of JNU to drop all punitive measures against the students engaged in protests, and to demand the immediate release of Kanhaiya Kumar.