29 February 2020
The Indian diaspora held simultaneous protests, silent demonstrations and sit-ins in more than 15 cities – numbering nearly 1500 people – in Europe to express solidarity with the victims and survivors of the Delhi violence and to demand immediate action against the perpetrators. Indians standing for democracy braved wind and rain to organize and make their voices heard against the inhumanity that was visited upon fellow Indians in Delhi. From contextualizing the situation to paying tribute to the victims and appealing for peace between communities, the demonstrators also sang songs, carried posters with messages of resistance and peace.
In Berlin, the protestors raised slogans against the atrocities of police and the silence from the union govt of India against the attackers, marching towards the Indian embassy. Flowers were placed on the street opposite the Indian Embassy as a gesture of their condolences to the citizens who were brutally killed in the violence in Delhi. Needless to say, the Indian authorities objected to flowers being placed in front of the embassy. Braving the harsh weather, Indians in Belgium were joined by local friends who joined the protest because they wanted to show strength and solidarity against the communal atrocities in India.
From Glasgow to Krakow, Indians gathered in large numbers for this considerable show of strength. In Glasgow the demonstrators sang Hum Dekhengein and speakers highlighted the ongoing polarisation and planned violence against certain communities, with clandestine support from the government agencies, Scottish people joined the group. The silent demonstration I in Kraków – marked by all participants wearing black to symbolize mourning and resistance – Steaming chai was distributed to everyone present to mark symbols of unity that bring Indians from various regions, languages and religious beliefs together. “The brutality and extent of violence that was witnessed in Delhi recently has shaken us all. It is high time we stand against this hate-filled ideology that has divided India right down the middle,” said another of the organizers, and added “but our message is only the establishment and maintenance of peace.” During the opening speech, stories of kindness and compassion that have emerged from amidst the ruins of the violence were recounted.
Slogans in English and Hindi, poetry and speeches, a tribute to Shaheen Bagh and reading of the Preamble marked the protest in the Netherlands where Indians gathered outside the Indian embassy in The Hague. Inclement weather could not stop members of the Indian diaspora and others to come together for a silent protest condemning the Delhi violence in Helsinki in Finland. Some of them taped their mouths with black cloth symbolizing the curbing of dissent. The protest ended with the poem ‘Sab Yaad Rakha Jayega’ by Amir Aziz. In Paris, French citizens joined Indians to condemn the state-sponsored violence in Delhi, as the 43 victims of the violence last weekend were remembered: their names, professions and families mentioned. A minute silence was observed in their honor and white roses, a symbol of anti-fascist resistance in Europe, were laid near the consular office in Paris. The protest in Stockholm, Sweden, also observed a minute of silence for the victims of fascist violence in Delhi and other parts of India. Protestors read the Preamble of Constitution of India, and sang songs like Wapas Jao and Tu Zinda Hai. The anti-fascist Indian diaspora in Sweden is also working towards supporting relief and aid activities in Delhi.
Members of the Indian diaspora from all over Switzerland gathered in Geneva while Swiss friends joined in large numbers. While the build-up to the orchestrated riot was contextualized, the silence and inadequate response of the central government was highlighted and underlined. The proceeding as marked by the narration of stories of brotherhood and compassion that have emerged from the burning cinders of the violence. The protestors also decided to support on-ground rehabilitation efforts in Delhi. While in Pisa in Italy, protestors gathered in front of the iconic leaning tower to commemorate the victims of violence, in Köln, a German lady gave an impromptu speech about the similarities between 1930s Germany and today’s India. “This is not an issue merely concerning India but one that touches upon issues of morality and humanity. Now is not the time to remain a passive observer, and we must continue the fight by seeking more international support” added a social psychologist based in Kraków.