The UC Berkeley Sikh Student Association, or SSA, recently released a statement to show its support for the people of Kashmir as well as to urge UC Berkeley to “re-examine” current partnerships the campus has with the government of India.
On Aug. 5, the Indian government announced that Article 370 had been removed from the Indian Constitution, meaning that the state of Jammu and Kashmir — the Indian-controlled part of the Kashmir region — lost much of its autonomy, as the removal of the article revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
In addition to demonstrating its solidarity with the Kashmiri people, SSA said in the statement that it believes that it is “unsettling and horrifying” that UC Berkeley still has many partnerships with the Indian government and urged the campus to reconsider them. In an email, the SSA board of directors stated that these partnerships include academic chairs and events such as the US-India Conference.
“For our organization, it is deeply unsettling that despite the genocidal tendencies and oppressive regime of the Indian State, UC Berkeley maintains ties and funds scholarship for students through India,” the SSA board said in the email.
In the email, the SSA board of directors said that in the past, the Indian government has tried to “build a presence on campus” by working to fund a Sikh Studies program at UC Berkeley with a multimillion-dollar endowment in February 2019. The campus did not go through with this plan after listening to concerns from SSA, according to the email.
The SSA board said in the email that the current experiences of the people of Kashmir reflect experiences that their parents and grandparents experienced with the “genocidal tactics from the Indian state in the eighties and nineties.”
“As Sikhs, our vision in interpreting these events is not clouded, as we have often been the victim of Indian state-sponsored violence in the name of national security,” the SSA board of directors said in the statement.
Additionally, the SSA board of directors said in the email that it feels that the Kashmiri people’s right to self-determination, granted by the Charter of the United Nations, is being violated by their being “forcefully added to the Indian dominion.”
In the email, the board added that it feels that this right to self-determination is central to UC Berkeley’s values.
“Having partnerships with countries’ that explicitly and unabashedly mock the values of self-determination must be confronted,” the board said in the email.
UC Berkeley spokespeople declined to comment on SSA’s statement.