The Seattle City Council, the civic body governing Washington’s largest city, on Monday passed a resolution opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens, terming both as discriminatory towards all marginalised sections and asking the US Congress to censure India through legislation.
Although there was some opposition from people favouring the CAA during the deliberations, the resolution — moved by Indian-American council member Kshama Sawant — was adopted unanimously by voice vote.
Such resolutions technically carry no weight as far as India is concerned but add to the pressure that is building up internationally against the CAA, which is widely perceived as an attack on the basic structure of the Indian Constitution.
According to the Seattle City Council website, resolutions are an instrument used by the civic body to offer collective opinion on matters. “Resolutions are items of legislation that are advisory or policy-oriented in nature,” the website says.
The operative part of the resolution says: “The Seattle City Council opposes the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Act in India, and finds these policies to be discriminatory to Muslims, oppressed castes, women, indigenous and LGBT people. The Seattle City Council urges the United States Congress to (a) support legislation censuring the Republic of India for adopting these policies and (b) call for the Parliament of India to uphold the Indian Constitution by repealing the CAA, stopping the NRC, and taking steps towards helping refugees by ratifying various UN treaties on refugees.”
It categorises the BJP as “far-Right” and points out that most Indians lack documentation such as birth certificates to prove citizenship. A nationwide rollout of the NRC could strip large numbers of people left out of the CAA of their citizenship rights with no option to be re-naturalised, the resolution says.
Lest its locus standi in adopting a resolution like this be questioned, the Seattle City Council said it believed that it was the duty of ordinary people to oppose the dangerous rise of the far-Right everywhere in the world and that the growing authoritarianism of the Narendra Modi government was of concern to not only the marginalised Indians but also to “Seattle’s South Asian immigrant community and those opposed to Trump and the Right wing in the United States”.
Sawant tweeted after the vote: “Today’s victory on our movement’s resolution against the Islamophobic NRC-CAA in India showed that when working people get organised and unite to fight, we win! This is historic, as it’s the first such legislation passed by a body outside India. Let’s make sure it’s not the last!”