USCIRF to hold hearing on CAA next week

Washington: the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) will hold a hearing next week on how citizenship laws in countries like India and Myanmar are leveraged to deny the religious minorities legal protection, making them vulnerable to exploitation, discrimination and mass atrocities.

USCIRF stated: “With widespread protests in recent months in India in response to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and a proposed National Register of Citizens, however, citizenship laws as a tool to target religious minorities is receiving much needed international attention. This phenomenon has a long-standing precedent with such measures as the 1982 Citizenship Law in Burma stripping the Rohingya of their rights as citizens. Without citizenship rights, minority communities are left to face further persecution and violence by both governments and non-state actors. In particular, government efforts to strip religious minorities of their citizenship can be a key predictor of mass atrocities.”

It added: “Witnesses will discuss how citizenship laws are used to target religious minorities, particularly in Burma and India, and will highlight the importance of the atrocity prevention framework for understanding the potential consequences of these laws.”

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USCIRF’s announcement came amidst the widespread protests in India against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the recent maiden official visit of US President Donald Trump to India.

CAA will ensure Indian citizenship to members of the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014.

The USCIRF hearing is scheduled for March 4. Opening remarks will be made by Tony Perkins, Chair, USCIRF; Gayle Manchin, Vice Chair, and Anurima Bhargava. While the panel includes Naomi Kikoler, Dr. Azeem Ibrahim and Dr. Ashutosh Varshney. More witnesses are likely to be added.

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