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US rights activists protest ban of scholar from Kashmir

Protest at the Indian Consulate: Revoke the Barring of Professor Richard Shapiro, End the Isolation of Kashmiris

On November 8th at 11am, a group of more than 50 students and community members protested India’s banning of Richard Shapiro. The protest took place at the San Francisco Consulate General of India and lasted over an hour. Statements were read attesting to the violations perpetrated by the indefinite ban placed on Professor Shapiro’s travel to India and called for its revocation. A memorandum crafted and signed by students and friends of Richard Shapiro was delivered to, and accepted by, consulate staff.

On November 1st, 2010, Professor Shapiro was denied entry by the Immigration Authorities in New Delhi. Professor Shapiro is a US Citizen and Chair, Anthropology Department, at California Institute of Integral Studies.

Professor Shapiro traveled to India with his life partner, Professor Angana Chatterji, a citizen of India and a permanent resident of the US. Professor Chatterji, a prominent and frequent visitor to the region, was granted entry to India while Professor Shapiro was prevented from entering the country. Reports indicate that no legal basis was given for the decision to deny his entry. Professor Shapiro was in possession of a valid passport and visa.

Given that Professor Shapiro’s work focuses neither on South Asia nor India, it appears that his right to travel has been restricted in an attempt to further intimidate Professor Chatterji, and to discourage her from continuing her work as Co-Convener of the International People’s Tribunal for Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir (IPTK)

Since 2006, Shapiro has regularly traveled to Kashmir, and interacted with various human rights defenders, scholars, and youth to bear witness and to learn from their experiences. The focus of his scholarship and academic work is not India or Kashmir, but issues of race, class, gender, and alliance building in the United States, and discourses on power and subjectivity.

Richard Shapiro had written an op-ed on Kashmir in 2009 and another in September 2010. These were analytical pieces based on articles and newspaper reports, and not on primary research that had been conducted by him. Any scholar can do that. This is a matter of academic freedom, and beyond the control of states and their desire to regulate thinking on the injustices they perpetrate.

The Indian state has regularly targeted those that have been outspoken on injustices and military governance in Kashmir. The Indian state has targeted Professor Angana Chatterji and her colleagues in Kashmir, Parvez Imroz and Khurram Parvez, for their work defending human rights. Recently, writer Arundhati Roy was a target. When academics, writers, and journalists are banned, such actions speak to the intent of the Indian State in maintaining impunity, and in deliberately isolating Kashmiris from the world and the world from Kashmiris.

Friends and Allies of Richard Shapiro point out that when academics, writers, and journalists are banned, such actions speak to the intent of the Indian State in maintaining impunity, and in deliberately isolating Kashmiris from the world, and the world from KashmirisThis arbitrary and undemocratic act by the Indian government is an affront to academic freedom, the right of families to be together, and further isolates Kashmiris from international solidarity in their struggle for peace and justice. The barring of an international scholar to Kashmir raises?serious questions into the functioning of democratic rights and human rights conditions of Kashmiris. Denying Shapiro entry without due cause impinges upon academic freedom, freedom of movement, and the right to travel with his legal partner and to visit his family in Kolkata.

The demonstrators called upon the Government of India to:

* Revoke the entry ban of Richard Shapiro from India.?* Stop obstruction of the IPTK’s work.?* End barring without due cause.?* Support democratic processes, the exchange of ideas.

For more information on the IPTK, see http://www.kashmirprocess.org.

For a press note by Scholars at Risk regarding Professor Shapiro, please visit:

http://scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu/Events-News/Article-Detail.php?art_uid=2454

The op-eds by Richard Shapiro:?Governing Kashmir (August 2010):

http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/2010/Aug/29/governing-kashmir-17.asp

A Just Peace in Kashmir? (August 2009):

http://www.zcommunications.org/a-just-peace-in-kashmir-by-richard-shapiro.

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