ASATA co-sponsored the public Bay Area screening of Claiming Our Voice, a new documentary film by Jennifer Pritheeva Samuel sharing the stories of Andolan, a New York organization founded and led by South Asian immigrant women low-wage workers as a means to support each other and collectively organize against exploitative work conditions. The film follows the women as they create, rehearse and refine acts for their first popular multi-lingual theater performance, directed by YaliniDream.
The Oakland event was moderated by ASATA’s Preeti Shekar and featured activists, artists, and academics focusing on South Asian domestic worker organizing.
For five days in October, nineteen emerging South Asian activists gathered in Oakland to connect, learn, and grow. Bay Area Solidarity Summer is an annual summer political action camp for young South Asian American activists, ages 15-21. The camp draws youth from a diversity of backgrounds, where they dive into issues like history, race, gender, and the environment through a South Asian Americans lens, led by organizers and trainers from the Alliance of South Asians taking Action (ASATA) and the broader community of progressive South Asian activists and organizers.
The fourth annual BASS ran from August 7-11, 2014, and was structured differently from previous camps. The BASS collective decided to focus this year’s curriculum on practical organizing skills, and roughly half the curriculum reflected that focus, with participants learning about messaging, media, campaign strategy, power mapping, and direct action. Participants got the chance to practice these skills in small project groups, analyzing current case studies. One group looked at militarized policing, an issue that erupted into the national consciousness a week later, with the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
For many participants, their biggest takeaway was a sense of inspiration and connection. Some participants lived or studied in communities with very small South Asian populations, and appreciated getting a chance to build their networks. For others, BASS was a chance to deepen their commitment to their activism.
On the first night of the camp, BASS 2014 participants put together a massive timeline of South Asian American activist history. On the last night of the camp, participants got a chance to meet BASS alumni and long-time Bay Area South Asian activists. It was an electrifying moment, three generations of South Asian progressives standing together, standing for justice.
Photos by Anirvan Chatterjee and Sabiha Basrai
- 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:
- 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
STOP URBAN SHIELD IN OAKLAND!
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.
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.
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:
June 29, San Francisco—Over 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:
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
In India, Section 377 has been used as the basis for harassment, blackmail, extortion, and physical and sexual abuse
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
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
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
devika.ghai at gmail.com
650 644 6142
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:
And sign the petition on change.org
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.
Photo by Brooke Anderson
Photo by Sabiha Basrai