Protesters in India claim victory as citizenship bill stalls

Students shout slogans during a protest to demand the withdrawal of the Citizenship Amendment Bill, a bill passed by India's lower house of parliament that aims to give citizenship to non-Muslims from neighbouring countries, in Nagaon district in the northeastern state of Assam, India, Feb. 13, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 13 February 2019

Protesters in India claim victory as citizenship bill stalls

  • The Citizenship Amendment Bill is aimed at helping Hindus
  • Police said people were defying the curfew on Wednesday

GUWAHATI: Protesters in northeast India claimed victory on Wednesday after a bill that the government says will help Hindus in neighboring countries settle in India lapsed before it could be ratified by Parliament.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill is aimed at helping Hindus and members of other non-Muslim minority communities in neighboring Muslim countries move to India.

The bill had incited exceptional opposition in remote, ethnically diverse northeastern states where for years residents have complained that migrants from Bangladesh are a burden on society.

For days, protesters have taken to the streets, bringing chaos to several cities in the region. Authorities have responded with curfews and blocks on broadcasters in an attempt to quell the unrest.

The lower house of Parliament passed the bill last month but it was not ratified by the upper house before the end of its last session before the election, on Wednesday.

Activists in the northeast welcomed Parliament’s failure to push the legislation through.

“This is a moral victory for the people of the northeast,” Samujjal Bhattacharya, a leader of the All Assam Students’ Union, one of the protesting groups, said.

Members of the Assam state organization had threatened to “shed blood” to block the bill.

Protests over recent days have also rocked the small state of Manipur, where authorities imposed an indefinite curfew and suspended mobile internet services for five days late on Tuesday, following violent protests.

Police said people were defying the curfew on Wednesday.

Protests also erupted in Mizoram state, where some activists have given voice to old separatist aspirations.


Amazon indigenous leaders accuse Brazil of ‘genocide’ policy

Updated 18 January 2020

Amazon indigenous leaders accuse Brazil of ‘genocide’ policy

  • Hundreds of elders gathered this week at Pairacu, deep in the rainforest, to form a united front against Bolsonaro’s environmental policies
  • “We do not accept mining on our lands, loggers, illegal fishermen or hydroelectricity. We are opposed to anything that destroys the forest,” a leader said

PIARACU: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s pledge to open up the Amazon to mining companies was tantamount to “genocide,” indigenous leaders said Friday at a meeting to oppose the government’s environmental policies.
Hundreds of elders gathered this week at Pairacu, deep in the rainforest, to form a united front against Bolsonaro’s environmental policies, which have seen deforestation in the jungle nearly double since the Brazilian leader came to power a year ago.
“Our aim was to join forces and denounce the fact that the Brazilian government’s political policy of genocide, ethnocide and ecocide is under way,” the group said in a draft manifesto drawn up at the end of the summit.
“We do not accept mining on our lands, loggers, illegal fishermen or hydroelectricity. We are opposed to anything that destroys the forest,” the text said.
They also said that “government threats and hate speech” had encouraged violence against Amazon communities and demanded punishment for the murder of indigenous leaders.
At least eight indigenous leaders were killed last year.
Brazil’s leading indigenous chief, Raoni Metuktire, said Thursday he would personally travel to the capital Brasilia to present the meeting’s demands to Congress.
“Over there, I’m going to ask Bolsonaro why he speaks so badly about the indigenous peoples,” said the 89-year-old leader of the Kayapo tribe.
Preliminary data collected by the National Institute for Space Research showed an 85 percent increase in Amazon deforestation last year when compared to 2018.