CAVACH (Collective Against Violation and Abuse of Civil and Human rights) is a group of concerned young Indians based around the world, formed in response to historic and ongoing human rights violations in India and the Indian State’s blatant complacence and outright complicity in this regard.
How we came to be
We started out as a group of people working toward increasing awareness about India’s discriminatory Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Europe.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) passed in December 2019 was, at the time, the latest in line of a series of questionable, if not explicitly discriminatory, decisions taken by the Indian government. Coupled with a National Register of Citizens (NRC), it poses a threat not only to India’s religious and sexual minorities but also to those who belong to financially weaker sections of society. The passing of CAA saw huge protests and demonstrations in India and across the world, the Indian government’s response to which was a brutal crackdown on (mostly student) activists which continues even today. At the same time, documented perpetrators and instigators of violence against the largely peaceful anti-CAA demonstrations have been allowed to go scot-free.
As the situation on the ground has developed, so have we. We now advocate against any and all kinds of oppression perpetuated by the Indian government in the name of (its narrow conception of) nationalism.
‘Cavach’ in Hindi means ‘that which protects’. Consequently, our mission is to ensure that the liberal, secular and just India guaranteed to us by our constitution is not eroded by the exclusionary, violent, and fascist right-wing forces which hold power today. We plan on doing this by preserving witness testimonies in ongoing cases of state-sanctioned violence, keeping track of illegal detentions and imprisonment of political prisoners and protesting against blatantly unconstitutional acts (such as the CAA) rushed through the parliament, while simultaneously working with grassroots organizations and activists in India to ensure that those currently ‘in the system’ are treated fairly and humanely.
A worrying shift toward authoritarian, right-wing, ultra-nationalistic politics in the recent past demands a reckoning which can only be achieved by people (Indians and foreigners alike) not only bearing witness to the violence and abuse occurring in the world’s largest democracy but actively working toward ensuring accountability and justice. It is in this context that we stand in solidarity. And march toward justice.
We have protested across Europe including Berlin, Cologne, Brussels, and the United Nations in Geneva. These protests were against the unconstitutional acts passed by the Indian government and its blatant disregard for civil and human rights.
We have submitted detailed reports on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, suppression of dissent, attack on free speech, and the Delhi Riots to Ms. Marie Arena, the chairperson of the subcommittee on Human Rights in the European Parliament. Ms. Arena has recently sent a letter to the Home Minister of India voicing her concern on the human rights issues in India. We have also communicated with members of the committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid in the German Parliament and submitted reports on the human rights crisis in India. These reports have been prepared in collaboration with advocates in India and Germany. Our group has also reached out to the European Centre for Civil and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Amnesty Germany and is planning to collaborate with them in the future. We have also sent an urgent appeal to the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the release of one of the many activists arrested for protesting the government as she was five months pregnant at the time of the appeal.