South Asian contingent at the rally for Gaza in San Francisco, July 20, 2014

There were 25-40 South Asians who met up with the ASATA / South Asian contingent over the course of the Gaza protest Sunday, including members of ASATA, four BASS alumni, AMEMSA Coalition members, and friends new and old from the community and other allied organizations.
The event began with a rally in Justin Herman Plaza and the march then stretched from the Embarcadero to Civic Center. 
We chanted  Palestine Zindabad, Occupation Murdabad!! (long live Palestine, down with the occupation) and came up with others in English, Hindu, Urdu, and Bengali. After the event, a Twitter conversation led to the creation of a new public Google Doc featuring South Asian Palestine solidarity chants: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1JK_XF5b3KXowQ83-i6IH3jq-vqDrHsquYkx0UwaK0zo/edit. Check it out, and add your own! 

Photos by Anirvan Chatterjee and Sabiha Basrai

ASATA members are organizing to stop Urban Shield in Oakland

Organizations including Arab Resource & Organizing Center, Alliance of South Asians Taking Action, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, Critical Resistance, and War Resisters League invite you to join us as we take a stand against the militarization of our communities. On September 4-8, 2014, in Oakland, California, Urban Shield — a trade show and training exercise for SWAT teams and police agencies —will bring local, national and international law enforcement agencies together with defense industry contractors to provide training and introduce new weapons to police and security companies. 
The tools, strategies, and tactics shared at Urban Shield will not only increase the opportunities for state violence in Oakland but across the globe in communities that show resilience and resistance in the face of oppression. Become a part of a growing resistance to increased police militarization and repression in Oakland and across the country demanding community self-determination to keep us all safe. 
 
 
How your organization can support:
  • Sign on to the demands (listed below) here
  • Join us at our Community Education Forum where you can learn about Urban Shield, how it impacts our communities and find out how you can plug into the Week of Education & Action: 
Sunday, August 17th 1-3:30pm
Eastside Cultural Center - 2277 International Blvd
  • Visit our page here for more information, updates, and upcoming events
  • Save the date for our Week of Education & Action: Saturday, August 30th- Friday, September 5th
Contact Kamau Walton with questions or for more information: kamau@warresisters.org

STOP URBAN SHIELD IN OAKLAND!

Decrease violence in our communities by ending the militarization of the police.

From schools, the border, prisons, to the streets, our communities have become sites of repression and violence at the hands of law enforcement.  Ever increasing militarization of our communities has created a culture of surveillance and repression targeting poor communities of color.  Community-led solutions addressing poverty and the violence of policing are the best ways to ensure genuine safety, health, and wellbeing for people most vulnerable to state violence.

o We demand the City of Oakland defund all activities related to Urban Shield

o We demand that all city agencies withdraw their participation in Urban Shield.

Our communities refuse to be testing grounds for tactics of global repression.

Local police departments collaborate with federal agencies to share information and tactics through vehicles such as fusion centers to surveil and control targeted communities. These same agencies are also exchanging policing and repression tactics with international security officers including but not limited to the Apartheid State of Israel. The import and export of technology and tactics includes purchasing weapons, training local police forces, and sharing strategies through activities such as Urban Shield. Our neighborhoods have become laboratories in which to test international and domestic warfare.

o We demand an end to all City collaborations with the Apartheid State of Israel.

o We call on the City of Oakland to issue a report on all collaborations between the Oakland Police Department and international law enforcement agencies.

o We call on the City of Oakland to reject all US wars and occupations here or abroad.

Community Self-determination

Our communities know what is required to address the social, economic and political problems we face.  Bay Area residents should have decision-making power over how and where resources are allocated in order to build stronger and sustainable communities.

o We demand that Bay Area residents have decision-making power in the process to determine priorities for public safety and emergency preparedness.

o We demand that the City of Oakland invest in community-based programs proven to decrease violence and harm instead of in the increased militarization of its police force and emergency services.

We call on our communities to continue fighting back and resisting state violence and repression.

In the face of growing efforts to police our communities, we must forge alliances to challenge systems of repression and build power in our communities.  Understanding prisons, borders, surveillance and policing as tools of global repression is critical to building and maintaining powerful movements for liberation.  Gentrification in our streets is colonialism elsewhere. The War on Terror we are living through today is a new formulation of the War on Drugs, and the violence inflicted on our communities necessitates a unified stance against all forms of repression from the US to Brazil, to the Philippines and Palestine.

o We ask our allies and partners to adopt these principles and take a stand against the policing and repression of our communities.

 

Muslims Making Media, Making Change by Sabiha Basrai

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On June 19th, 2014, activists, organizers and media makers convened in Detroit, MI for the Allied Media Conference. Members from Outburst! — a Toronto based movement of young muslim women building community through art, education and research — invited Muslim identified folks to participate in a network gathering:

Muslims Making Media, Making Change will focus on the media tools we are using in our communities to challenge violence with the hope of inspiring each other, building solidarity and spearheading future collaborations. Mainstream media often reduces the diverse voices of Muslims. We are are made to be monolithic, silenced, or relegated to the margins. Our own communities as well, can make us feel isolated, judged or policed. This gathering will be an opportunity for anyone that self identifies as Muslim through the spectrum of familial, spiritual, political, cultural, or ancestral connections to come together. We want to meet Muslim artists, community change makers, media makers, designers, bloggers and activists to learn the ways we are using media to tell our stories and make grassroots change. We know that our liberation from violence can only occur when we are at frontlines of the resistance strategies.
I represented ASATA in this gathering and spoke about different ways folks in our organization have engaged in issues of Islamophobia, communalism, and caste oppression. It was interesting to hear that other people in the room had similar experiences and challenges around finding ways to tell our stories, collaborate on projects, and work in solidarity with our allies. 
Several of the people I met at this gathering will be coming to the Bay Area this Fall and I look forward to continuing the conversations we started in Detroit.

San Francisco Demands: “Modi, End 377!”

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June 29, San FranciscoOver 40 South Asian human rights advocates marched the streets of San Francisco during San Francisco Pride, demanding that India’s newly-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi overturn Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Section 377 is a law instituted by British colonizers in 1860 outlawing “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” — a law best known for criminalizing consensual sexual intercourse between adults of the same sex.

“Section 377 is an outdated ban on homosexual sex imposed by the British Raj in the Commonwealth countries. While Britain stopped using 377 in the 1970s, versions of this bad law are continued through colonial legacy,” explained Monica Davis  from Trikone (www.trikone.org), the oldest South Asian LGBTQ organization in the world. “Trikone encourages Prime Minister Modi to strike down Section 377 because this law violates an individual’s right to privacy, equality, and life with dignity. We stand with the multitude of groups in India calling for an end to this regressive colonial law.”

“We call on Prime Minister Modi to repeal Section 377,” stated Devika Ghai from the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA, www.asata.org), an all-volunteer group working to educate, organize, and empower Bay Area South Asian communities to end violence, oppression, racism and exploitation. “The harshest effects of 377 are often felt by those who also hold other marginalized identities, often on the basis of caste, class, and gender discrimination. Repealing Section 377 would be a step towards a country that abides by the principles of constitutional morality set by its founders,” she added.

“We hear from our partners in India that the struggles of millions of working class LGBTQ people remain largely invisible,” stated Renu Pariyadath, a member of the Association for India’s Development’s (AID, www.aidindia.org). “The groups AID supports report that many LGBTQ individuals who are a part of movements for land rights, Adivasi (indigenous people’s) rights, and environmental justice are sometimes invisible as LGBTQ people, which further deprives them of rights and resources from their larger communities. AID agrees with these groups on the ground that the punitive use of Section 377 will affect particularly harshly, those communities that are doubly marginalized by their sexuality and socio-economic circumstances, such as many hijras (intersex/transsexual/transgender people), sex workers, and working class people.”

On this day of annual celebration of Pride worldwide, it is only fitting that the South Asian diaspora joins hands to demand an end to an unjust law that violates the very basic human rights of LGBTQ individuals in India. We stand in support of human rights advocates in India, including the Humsafar Trust’s petition to Prime Minister Modi.

Five Facts About Section 377 in India:

  1. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code was drafted by British colonizers in 1860, who put similar laws in place in dozens of other nations, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, the Maldives, Australia, and others

  2. In India, Section 377 has been used as the basis for harassment, blackmail, extortion, and physical and sexual abuse

  3. The Delhi High Court overturned Section 377 in 2009, a widely celebrated decision later overturned in 2013 by the Supreme Court, which reinstated the law, while suggesting that Parliament should decide on the issue

  4. Prime Minister Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has thus far refused to stop backing the colonial Section 377 law, even as leaders in every other major national party have called for its repeal

  5. Given the strength of its parliamentary majority, Prime Minister Modi and the BJP have an unprecedented opportunity to end 377 and rid India of outdated colonial laws

Contact:
Devika Ghai
devika.ghai at gmail.com
650 644 6142

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Local struggles against Hindutva censorship

ASATA members started a petition demanding that a Sunnyvale Hindu Temple board member publicly apologize to well-known classical singer Shubha Mudgal who was threatened for her anti-Modi position. 

Reach the media coverage here:

NRI starts petition against threat to Shubha Mudgal at US concert

And sign the petition on change.org

Responding to the 2014 Indian elections

ASATA members discuss reactions to the 2014 elections in India, the 2002 Gujarat Riots and the realities of Narendra Modi’s victory. 

http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/103180

May Day Immigrant Rights: Oakland, March 2014

ASATA members marched along side our friends from Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Third i Films, and APEX Express under the AAMEMSA Immigrant Rights Coalition banner. 

imagePhoto by Brooke Anderson

imagePhoto by Sabiha Basrai

Grace Lee Boggs: American Revolutionary

ASATA represents at the CAAM Fest screening of Grace Lee Boggs: American Revolutionary on March 16, 2014 at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. Together with our AACRE partners, we welcomed everyone to the film and spoke about how Grace Lee Boggs has inspired us all.

Monna Wong (API Equality) and Sabiha Basrai (ASATA) give the welcome address at CAAM Fest’s screening of American Revolutionary. 

Dalit Women Fight

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On April 17, 2014, AID and ASATA sponsored a report back from The Dalit Mahila Swabhiman Yatra (Dalit Women’s Self Determination March) at UC Berkeley.

ASATA members, students and community members gathered to hear the stories of the brave dalit women who raised their voices and are building collective power in the face of caste oppression in India. We learned about the caravan that traveled to cities and villages spreading awareness about the atrocities committed against dalit communities. Activist Asha Kotwal and filmmaker Thenmozhi Soundararajan shared footage of the dalit women-lead movement which is gaining more and more momentum. People were invited to engage in discussions about how caste oppression is maintained, and what the Indian diaspora in America can do to stand in solidarity with the the dalit women who continue to fight.
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ASATA members meet Asha and Thenmozhi. Photo by Sabiha Basrai

Co-sponsors: 
AID (Association for India’s Development)
ASATA (Alliance of South Asians Taking Action)
IDEX (International Development Exchange)
Center for South Asian Studies at UC Berkeley
South Asian Advocacy Group at SJSU
Townsend Center and Center for Race & Gender (CRG) working group on Muslim Identities & Cultures

The event was live tweeted:

 

National Day of Action Against Deportations - April 5, 2014

Today is April 5th, National Day of Action Against Deportations. ASATA stands with the millions of individuals and organizations around the country who are calling for comprehensive, meaningful, and humane immigration reform, including an immediate halt on deportations. 

Yesterday, ASATA members joined Gamaliel Foundation members in an all-women’s delegation to Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office, in sisterhood with We Belong Together: Women for Commonsense Immigration Reform. We met with Congressional Aide Jose Hernandez (pictured here), to demand that Rep. Lee push this issue through the House of Representatives. Mr. Hernandez, on behalf of Rep. Lee, accepted a dinner plate that read “11 million need a plate at the table.”, and pledged the Congresswoman’s support.