Solidarity with the uprising of the Assamese people!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 14 December 2019, www.thecommunists.net
1. India’s parliament – dominated by the extremely right-wing Hindutva chauvinist BJP – has passed the so-called Citizenship Amendment Bill on 11 December. This law allows for the fast-tracking of citizenship applications on the basis of religion. While it grants Indian nationality to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs migrants who fled Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh before 2015, it excludes Muslim people – like the Rohingya Muslim refugees who fled persecution in Myanmar. Other people left out from the CAB list are Tamils from Sri Lanka or Tibetans from China.
2. The CAB is an important element in the racist Hindutva policy of the extremely right-wing Modi government. Its purpose is to alter the national composition in Assam and other areas in the North East of India in order to consolidate the national oppression of the indigenous people. This measure was necessitated because the National Register of Citizens process in Assam would have excluded all those who entered the state after March 24, 1971. As a result 1.9 million people in Assam were excluded from the list - about half Hindus and the other half Muslims - and have been asked to prove their citizenship or else be rendered stateless. The CAB will allow the Modi government to increase the share of non-Muslim people living in Assam at the cost of the indigenous population.
3. The Assamese people have reacted to the passing of CAB with a spontaneous mass uprising in which university and school students play a leading role. Protesters marched on the streets, uprooted telephone poles and burned several buses and other vehicles. They also set fire to four train stations. As a result train services were suspended and flights to the state cancelled. Protesters also attacked the homes of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and other officials of the governing BJP as well as the regional group Assam Gana Parishad. The government, fearing to lose control of the state, deployed thousands of troops to the state. It imposed a curfew in Gauhati, the state capital of Assam, and suspended mobile internet in 10 districts in Assam, claiming that social media platforms could potentially be used to "inflame passions and thus exacerbate the law and order situation". In addition, protests are taking place in many other parts of India. A coalition of the largest reformist parties – the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)-Liberation, All India Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party – have called for an All India day of action against CAB on 19 December. As a result of the popular uprising in Assam, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering to cancel his upcoming visit to India for an annual summit “for security reasons”.
4. As it is well-known, the Modi government is pushing its ultra-racist agenda because of its chauvinist strategy of Hinduization of the country. However, it is also driven by the fact that India is in the midst of one of its worst economic downturns. According to official figures, unemployment is at a 45-year high, while private consumption and economic output have collapsed in the last two quarters. The country's fiscal deficit hit 102.4% of the 2019-20 budget. According to a survey by the All India Trade Union Congress a fifth of India’s 63 million small businesses contributing 32% to the economy and employing 111 million people has faced a 20% fall in profits since the GST rollout on 1 July 2017 and had to fire hundreds of thousands of workers. Inflation is rising dramatically and this has already sparked a nationwide outcry as onion prices have soared tenfold this year. In pushing its Hindutva chauvinism, the BJP hopes to deflect popular attention from the increasing social and economic problems.
5. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) strongly supports the popular protests against CAB. It is urgent that all mass organizations of the workers, poor peasants, students and oppressed not only denounce the CAB but also mobilize for decisive mass actions. In Assam, revolutionaries should call for a united front of all workers and popular mass organisations to organise an indefinite bandh. They should warn against any bureaucratic manoeuvres of the reformist leaderships of these parties and unions. Revolutionaries should also call for the formation of action committees in workplaces, neighbourhoods, villages and universities so that the struggle can be democratically controlled by the masses.
6. The Assamese people face severe national oppression by the Indian state since many decades. In fact, Assam – like Kashmir and other states in the North-East – constitutes an internal colony of the Indian state. It confirms the nature of India as a "prison house of nations and lower castes", as we have pointed out in past documents. We therefore reaffirm the RCIT’s unconditional support for the right of national self-determination of the Assamese people including the right to separate and to constitute their own state. Such a perspective is an inextricable part of the strategy of socialist revolution in India aimed at the destruction of this prison house and the creation of a Socialist Federation of South Asia.
7. The RCIT views the struggle against CAB as part of the struggle to stop the virulent chauvinist policy of the Modi government. As we have repeatedly pointed out, the BJP has intensified its efforts in the past few months to accelerate the oppression of the Kashmiri people as well as the oppression of India’s 201 million Muslim minority (e.g. state of emergency and removal of autonomy rights of Kashmir by revoking Article 370 of India’s constitution; verdict of India’s Supreme Court represents paving the way for building a Hindu temple in the town of Ayodhya). At the same time, as we have noted above, Modi’s Hindutva chauvinist policy can not be separated from India’s economic crisis and the popular struggle against its social consequences for the workers and poor peasants. The upcoming country-wide general strike on 8 January 2020 – organised by the trade union in protest against privatisation of the public sector, alarming unemployment and job losses, anti-worker labour law amendments and increasing precarious employment – is an excellent opportunity for revolutionaries to link these issues!
8. Hence, the RCIT urges revolutionaries in India to combine the struggle against CAB with the support for the Kashmiri people as well as the defence of the Muslim minority. Likewise, it is necessary to link the struggle for democratic rights with the economic struggle against rising unemployment and inflation. Revolutionaries should emphasize such a strategy as part of the struggle for a transitional program in India culminating in the struggle for a workers and poor peasant government!
9. Finally, we point out once more that the current explosive events in India take place at a crucial moment in the world situation. The capitalist world economy is entering another Great Recession, the rivalry between the imperialist Great Powers is accelerating, key leaders of the world bourgeoisie face massive domestic crises (e.g. Trump, Netanyahu) and, most importantly, a global wave of class struggles and popular uprisings is spreading from Chile; Haiti and Ecuador, Iraq, Lebanon and Algeria, Catalunya to Hong Kong – to name only the most explosive ones. In short, we have entered a new global political phase where the world is heading towards a political rupture!
10. In such a period it is highly urgent that militants in India advocate a consistent revolutionary program which includes a perspective of internationalist unity with such struggles in other countries. In particular, it is urgent that revolutionaries in India and internationally unite on a clear programmatic basis. They should work towards the formation of an authentic revolutionary party – nationally and internationally. The RCIT is dedicated to advance the building of such a Revolutionary World Party and we call revolutionaries in India and internationally to work with us hand in hand in this task!
International Bureau of the RCIT
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We refer readers also to other documents of the RCIT relevant to this issue:
India: Defend the Kashmiri People against Modi’s “Israel-Style” Attack! India’s ultra-chauvinist BJP government abolishes decades-old autonomy rights of Muslim-majority province, 6 August 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/india-defend-the-kashmiri-people-against-modi-s-attack/
India: Another Orgy of Hindutva Chauvinism, 11 November 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/india-another-orgy-of-hindutva-chauvinism/
Michael Pröbsting: The Kashmir Question and the Indian Left Today. Marxism, Stalinism and centrism on the national liberation struggle of the Kashmiri people (Pamphlet), 26 September 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/kashmir-question-and-indian-left-today/
Michael Pröbsting: India: A Prison House of Nations and Lower Castes (On the Reasons for Modi’s Coup in Kashmir). Essay on the social and national contradictions of Indian capitalism and the rise of Hindutva chauvinism, 16 August 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/india-is-a-a-prison-house-of-nations-and-lower-castes/
Michael Pröbsting: Revolutionaries and the Slogan of “Azadi Kashmir”. Should Marxists advocate the independence of Kashmir? 13 September 2019, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/revolutionaries-and-the-slogan-of-azadi-kashmir/
We have collected the RCIT’s statements and articles on Kashmir in a special sub-section on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/asia/collection-of-articles-on-the-liberation-struggle-in-kashmir/.