Friday, 16 October 2015

Protesting Narendra Modi's visit to the UK


Modi with the RSS

This November, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India is visiting the UK. Narendra Modi is a lifelong cadre of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu supremacist paramilitary organisation modeled on the Nazi and Italian Fascist parties.

In 2002, as Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi presided over the genocidal attacks in which over 2,000 people from Gujarat’s Muslim minority community were systematically killed, and 200,000 displaced. Women and children were specifically targeted for horrific violence in the pogrom.

What happened in Gujarat in 2002 has been amply documented and there is clear evidence that the violence was orchestrated and sponsored by the Modi’s state government (‘India: Justice — the victim in Gujarat’). 

Since 2002, Modi has never expressed any regret for what happened in Gujarat, stating, when asked about his feelings, that he felt as sad as an occupant of a car that runs over a puppy. Since Modi became Prime Minister in May 2014, incidents of violence against minorities, incited by the hate-speech of his party members and ministers, has become a daily occurrence.

Who is welcoming Modi to Britain?

The Hindu Right has a network of organizations in the UK, including the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS – the British wing of the RSS)the National Hindu Students Federation, Hindu Forum of Britain, and others. 
The HSS UK is currently being investigated by the British Charity Commission after it was exposed in an ITV documentary ‘Charities Behaving Badly’ broadcast in February 2015. The film showed an HSS UK youth camp where young people were systematically indoctrinated in anti- Muslim and anti-Christian ideology.

Take Action!

Reclaim Diwali! 

We, along with South Asia Solidarity Group, Dalit Solidarity Network, South Asian Women’s Creative Collective have announced a special Diwali celebration on 6th November. Join our event here and share amongst friends!

With incendiary performances from:

Dancer and choreographer KALI CHANDRASEGARAM
Spoken word artist SHAREEFA ENERGY
Tamil political poetry choreographed for Bharatnatyam from OVIA, ANAMIHA AND NIRMALA
Bengali songs by Lalon and Nazrul presented by Mukul and Ghetto Tigers with DELWAR HOSSAIN DILU, TANUSREE GUHA, TONNI KHAN, SAIDA TANIA and PORAG HASAN

And much more!

Plus delicious food (non-vegetarian and vegetarian) including the Beef dishes the Hindu right want to ban!

Sign our petition!

We urge the four Labour MPs - Keith Vaz (Leicester East), Virendra Sharma (Ealing and Southall), Steve Pound (Ealing North) and Seema Malhotra (Feltham and Heston) to reconsider their decision to donate their pay rises for November to the cost of the 'Olympics style' cultural extravaganza in Wembley welcoming Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Instead, they should donate the money to the families of the victims of the 2002 Gujarat genocide that occurred under Modi's watch and in which 2,000 Muslims lost their lives and to the survivors of more recent attacks by members of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and allied organisations; alternatively, closer to home they could donate the money to food banks in the UK.

Sign the petition here!

Modi Not Welcome in London - A Day of Protest

Meeting Point:
10 Downing Street moving to Parliament Square
3.30pm: Meeting at House of Commons

For more information find out here

The day of protest is organised under the Avaaz network with support from Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance, Dalit Solidarity Network (UK), Indian Muslim Federation (UK), Indian Workers Association (GB), Muslim Parliament, Oxford South Asia Forum, South Asia Solidarity Group, Southall Black Sisters,Southall Monitoring Group, The Sikh Federation (UK), Voice of Dalit International

For regular updates on campaigns against Modi visit

Monday, 25 May 2015

Film screening of the award-winning 'Candles in the Wind'

(India 2014 52 min)

South Asia Solidarity Group and the Decolonising our Minds society invite you to a film screening of 'Candles in the Wind' followed by Q&A with the directors Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl

Thursday 28th May at 18:30–21:00

Room V111, SOAS, Vernon Square, Penton Rise, WC1X

Punjab is known globally as the success-story of India's Green Revolution. Popular cinema from Bollywood keeps this carefully cultivated image alive. This image is a mirage.

Behind the smokescreen of an idyllic Punjab, there is real smoke, from the smouldering pyres of the farmers who are driven to suicide by the debt burden due to high costs of seeds, fertilisers and pesticides set by the almighty corporations in collusion with the State.

With suicides of men spiralling, women are left to bear the burden of their debt, and the responsibilities of taking care of children, ageing parents and the carcinogenic chemically damaged fields.

'Candles in the Wind' witnesses the silent determination of these women to survive and struggle against the politics of domination. The film provides a unique insight into the effects of neoliberal globalisation on rural India and the socioeconomic flux which has accompanied it.

Awards: Special Mention, 61st National Film Awards / India; John Abraham National Film Award for Best Documentary / SiGNS Film Festival / Kerala / 2014; Special Mention / IDSFFK / Trivandrum / 2014; Official Selection: Indian Panorama-2014, IFFI-Goa.

Watch the trailer for Candles in the Wind:

Nandan Saxena & Kavita Bahl are independent filmmakers and media trainers.
They received the National Award for Best Investigative Film at the National Film Awards (2011), for the film ‘Cotton for my shroud’. It was screened as ‘Headline Film’ at the World Investigative Film Week at London in 2013.

Almost two decades into filmmaking, they work in the genres of documentary and poetry films. Their oeuvre spans the domains of ecology, livelihoods, development and human rights.

Their most recent film ‘I cannot give you my Forest’ has been awarded the ‘Rajat Kamal’ for the Best Film in Environment, including Agriculture at the National Film Awards (For 2014).

Scrap the trivialising and racist posters on Child Sexual Exploitation

We the undersigned would like to express our concern and dismay about a poster on the crucially important subject of child sexual exploitation which has been produced and is being circulated by the police-led National Working Group on Child Sexual Exploitation
The poster uses the face of a white child with a black/brown hand over her mouth and by doing so trivialises and diverts attention from the reality of child sexual exploitation and at the same time plays into racist stereotypes.
  • It suggests that perpetrators are Black or Asian and victims are white. In fact, as numerous cases (like those of powerful politicians like Cyril Smith, media personalities like Jimmy Savile, or of white men acting in gangs to exploit large numbers of young girls and women) have shown, perpetrators come from all racial groups. The majority are family members of the child or friends of her/his family.
  • Like the perpetrators, the children facing Child Sexual Exploitation are also from all racial backgrounds and as agencies working with young Asian women have pointed out, often the sexual exploitation of Black and Asian children is ignored because of lack services and other reasons.

The people responsible for the posters

There have been a number of complaints about the poster from different parts of the country but it has not been withdrawn. Instead, the response from the National Working Group for Child Sexual Exploitation has been to justify it. A Freedom of Information Act request has revealed that the images were taken from the library of the National Working Group (NWG) on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) (the leading UK network of more than 2500 practitioners who disseminate information to professionals working on the issue of CSE and trafficking) and shockingly that the same images have been used on other similar campaigns nationally.

As Chair of the partnership Child Sexual Exploitation group, Assistant Chief Constable of Northamptonshire, Ivan Balhatchet takes full responsibility for the posters and  Northamptonshire Police and the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children’s Board (NSCB), 'do not regard them as discriminating against any group in society'.

Bina Parmar, a Child Sexual Exploitation Specialist Team Member at NWG, who works closely with the Children’s Minister’s team and national organisations such as the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Barnardos and the Children's Society and was involved in the selection of the images for the NWG claims that "The hand in the image is in fact a white man’s hand, caught in a shadow, and in the print process it does look darker on some visuals.” This argument is dangerous and misleading, because if a hand looks dark in a poster it is seen as the hand of a Black or Asian person. No one walking past such a poster would stop and think: "Is this really a white hand looking Asian or Black..?", and this makes the poster blatantly racist.

In fact, the white supremacist English Defence League (EDL) have, since the Child Sexual Exploitation poster campaign was launched, developed very similar images specifically designed to inflame racial tension.

The poster must be withdrawn! 

This petition has been endorsed by the following representatives of local and national organisations which combat violence against women and girls:
Amrit Wilson (Freedom Without Fear Platform)
Zlakha Ahmed (Apna Haq, Rotherham)
Anjona Roy (Dostiyo, Northampton)
Sarah Green (End Violence Against Women Coalition)
Sumanta Roy (Imkaan)
Baljit Banga (Newham Asian Women's Project)
Katie Russell (Rape Crisis England and Wales)
Hilary Fisher (Women's Aid)
Vivienne Hayes (Women's Resource Centre)

Please endorse it too by signing the petition

Thursday, 19 February 2015

'Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai' or 'Muzaffarnagar Eventually'

(Hindi with English subtitles)

Film Screening and discussion

Tuesday 24th February, 7.00pm

Room V211, SOAS Vernon Square Building,
Vernon Square, Penton Rise
London WC1X 9EW

On the thirteenth anniversary of the Gujarat genocide, with the survivors still waiting for justice, we invite you to the UK premiere of this powerful film about a horrific new ‘laboratory of Hindu Rashtra’ and how it is being resisted.

In September 2013, an anti-Muslim pogrom took place in the Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts of Western Uttar Pradesh in which more than 100 men, women and children were killed and some 80,000  displaced.  In the past, these two districts had seen relative harmony between Muslims and Hindus. What happened this time? ‘Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai…’ (Muzaffarnagar eventually...) explores this question examining the many facets of the massacre- the question of  women’s ‘honour’, which was used by organisations of the Hindu right, including BJP-RSS, to orchestrate communal violence,  the merging of caste identity politics within the larger Hindutva fold, the breakdown of the once powerful farmers’ union, the Bharatiya Kisan Union, whose survival hinged on the unity of Hindu and Muslim peasants,  the various aspects of Dalit politics in the districts, the dubious role of the Samajwadi Party, the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh and the feeling of complete alienation and marginalisation of the Muslim community. The film looks at how the massacre found its resonance in the 2014 Indian General election campaign. Finally, it tells of the continued and growing resistance in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts against the corporate-communal nexus. 

Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Hai  Nakul Singh Sawhney/2014/135 mins/Hindi with English subtitles

Nakul Singh Sawhney's earlier films include the award winning With a little help from my friends (2005),  Agaurav and Undecided, both in 2006,  Once upon a time in Chheharta and the acclaimed Izzatnagari Ki Asabhya Betiyaan (2012) on “honour” crimes in Haryana

Monday, 16 February 2015

Colonial Misogyny and Women's Activism in Palestine - Possibilities for Transnational Solidarity

How do the Israeli state's colonial strategies specifically target women?

What are the various forms of resistance in which women in Palestine are engaged?
How can we extend and strengthen initiatives for transnational solidarity

Dr Rania Masri

 Associate Director Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship, American University of Beirut

Monday 2nd March 2015, 7-9pm
Rm B111 Brunei Building, SOAS Thornhaugh Street, Russell Sq
 London WC1H OXG

Rania Masri is a social-justice and anti-war activist.  Her writings and activism have centred on the occupation of Palestine, and the struggle against apartheid and racism.  She has also written and organized extensively on the sanctions on Iraq, and civil and environmental rights.  A partial listing of her writings and talks can be found on her personal website:

Organised by Freedom Without Fear Platform, Decolonising the Mind SOAS, SOAS Students' Union and SOAS Pal Soc

Monday, 26 January 2015

Reflections on gender violence, neoliberalism and the Hindu Right

A panel discussion with Tanika Sarkar and Kavita Krishnan

6.30-8.00 pm, Thursday 12 February 2015
Khalili Lecture Theatre
SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

Eminent feminist historian Professor Tanika Sarkar and leading feminist and left activist Kavita Krishnan will reflect on multiple forms of gender violence in India, both in the recent past and under the current government of Narendra Modi, the challenges faced by those confronting this violence, and how it has been affected by India’s neoliberal policies and the rise of the right-wing political forces of Hindutva.

Tanika Sarkar is Professor of Modern History in the Centre for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. She has published extensively on women and the Hindu right, cultural nationalism and the politics of Hindutva, as well as social reform in colonial and postcolonial India.  
Kavita Krishnan is secretary of the All-India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA). She is also editor of ‘Liberation’ which is the monthly journal of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist).

Co-chaired by Navtej Purewal (SOAS South Asia Institute) and Kalpana Wilson (LSE Gender Institute).

Organised by SOAS South Asia Institute and LSE Gender Institute in collaboration with Freedom without Fear Platform