Is talk of secession sedition? Arundhati Roy responds to charges

By Rady Ananda

In a speech last week supporting ‘azadi’ — or freedom — for the occupied people of Kashmir, Arundhati Roy won the ire of right wing extremists who started a petition to have her arrested on charges of sedition. Even moderates are shocked by her support of secession. I sit on an Indian listserve, and some of the comments against her were vicious, with most people supporting prison for this freedom-loving, earth-loving, prolific writer and activist.

Sedition is being openly discussed in several states in the US.  Bill Kaufman’s new book, Bye Bye, Miss American Empire addresses the topic head on (Chelsea Green, 2010).

“Scoff if you will, but by 2012, a decade into a nightmarish ‘War on Terror’ that our rulers have assured us will last our lifetimes, will Americans be content with a status quo of perpetual war and unending empire? … When you consider that in 2008, 77% [of Vermonters] answered yes to ‘Has the US government lost its moral authority?’ the savory makings of sedition are there.”

Ron Paul’s frank clarity reminds us, “A free society means you can dissolve it voluntarily.”

Kaufman argues that Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico have the strongest case for secession. Detailing the history of US thought on the issue — starting with the fact the US was born under secession — he also provides current thinking. In another poll, this one in 2008 by Middlebury Institute/Zogby Poll, he reports that researchers “found that 22% of Americans surveyed agreed that ‘any state or region has the right to peaceably secede and become an independent republic.’

“The South (26%) and East (24%) led the way, and among demographic categories Hispanics (43%), African Americans (40%), and eighteen- through twenty-four-year-olds (40%) gave the most support to the proposition. Liberals (32%) were likelier than self-described conservatives (17%) to agree. Hope abides.”

Ordinary people object to Earth-destroying corporate dominion, enforced thru war, here in the States and across the globe. Our cause is their cause. But, as Kaufman notes, “Establishment liberals and empire conservatives.… are the prison guards keeping the rabble from watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants.”

Here is Roy’s response to the media furor, which she wrote yesterday, along with a video of the speech that sparked the controversy:

Pity the Nation

By Arundhati Roy
Counter Currents

I write this from Srinagar, Kashmir. This morning’s papers say that I may be arrested on charges of sedition for what I have said at recent public meetings on Kashmir. I said what millions of people here say every day. I said what I, as well as other commentators have written and said for years. Anybody who cares to read the transcripts of my speeches will see that they were fundamentally a call for justice. I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state.

Yesterday I traveled to Shopian, the apple-town in South Kashmir which had remained closed for 47 days last year in protest against the brutal rape and murder of Asiya and Nilofer, the young women whose bodies were found in a shallow stream near their homes and whose murderers have still not been brought to justice. I met Shakeel, who is Nilofer’s husband and Asiya’s brother. We sat in a circle of people crazed with grief and anger who had lost hope that they would ever get ‘insaf’—justice—from India, and now believed that Azadi—freedom— was their only hope. I met young stone pelters who had been shot through their eyes. I traveled with a young man who told me how three of his friends, teenagers in Anantnag district, had been taken into custody and had their finger-nails pulled out as punishment for throwing stones.

In the papers some have accused me of giving ‘hate-speeches’, of wanting India to break up. On the contrary, what I say comes from love and pride. It comes from not wanting people to be killed, raped, imprisoned or have their finger-nails pulled out in order to force them to say they are Indians. It comes from wanting to live in a society that is striving to be a just one. Pity the nation that has to silence its writers for speaking their minds. Pity the nation that needs to jail those who ask for justice, while communal killers, mass murderers, corporate scamsters, looters, rapists, and those who prey on the poorest of the poor, roam free.

Arundhati Roy
October 26 2010

Arundhati Roy Speaking At LTG Auditorium New Delhi.

In the second part, the audience erupts into a debate that lasts for a few minutes.


Today, Democracy Now! reports on the issue including an interview with Roy in London from a month ago. 


Arundhati Roy’s June 2010 speech against Operation Greenhunt.
The Trickledown Revolution, September 2010
Walking with the Comrades, March 2010

26 responses to “Is talk of secession sedition? Arundhati Roy responds to charges

  1. lol… yes, amend that.

  2. I’m still not convinced that wikileaks isn’t some grand psyops. seriously, some serious players have to be feeding him that info, right?

  3. boomerangcomesback

    Let the People decide the Truth by providing them actionable evidence. When in History have Criminals Ever wanted their actions in “Secret” made public? This is a no-brainer as far as I see it. If your actions can’t stand the light of day and scrutiny then the brightest Light possible should be shown upon the deeds…

  4. First: re: Ms. Roy – if she is detained and/or sentenced, I think millions of us should rush to Kashmir in her stead…Second: I beleive Julian Assange is a hero, paranoia about psyops aside (it is a possibility I suppose, but I don’t think I personally subscribe to that). He is the Daniel Ellsberg for our times now. I also think he better watch his back, because if he isn’t a ‘targeted individual’ (for deletion) by now, its coming. THAT makes me aching angry. I think he needs to know that he has all the support of liberal thinking peoples and their thanks. Yes, if what the gov’t(s) are doing cannot stand the light of day, by Goddess, throw the light of the Universe upon them and out them for the demons they are possessed by. And, btw, screw sedition. It would make a person proud in this day and age, to be accused of such. Further, it is a screaming irony that India became the British, and Israel became the Reichland, don’t you think? Anyone who decries these goondas deserves a medal.

  5. DITTO all of that. If I knew of a way to smuggle Assange into the country, I would do the same…he could hide out here and set up ops. I hope he watches his back, because if they take him out, I might explode.

  6. Yes, I think we should…and its not REALLY suicide bombing, because it is our SOULS and MINDS exploding in response to the assinine, surreality of it all…..

  7. The War on Language had decreed that victims who actively protest no longer will be called “freedom fighters”- today they are “terrorists.” Anyone who complains must immediately be seen as an enemy. Got that?

    Meanwhile, many thanks Rady for finding Roy’s whole statement! When I first saw (and searched) it, the last three lines were lopped off.

  8. Hybrid, yes, I know, and I do not tremble. I will make Death tremble to take me! haha! Laudyms: Screw the war on language, we are what we call OURselves. If we do not have courage to follow through, we should fold up our tents now and head for higher ground.

  9. Hybrid: Yes, I can believe you – FEAR is a mighty teacher…and I have met it also. It is when people cannot face it full frontal that THE END IS FEAR. And Rady, yes, it IS shocking that non-GMO people are deriding Roy…wtf?

  10. Mythologizing has become an American obsession, so much so that truth is devalued and few notice how they are led around by rhetoric. If the Military-Industrial Cabal is unchallenged it will continue to name slavery “freedom” and critical thinking skills “sedition.” Resist Illegitimate Authority!

  11. Roy’s Childhood Trauma Colors her Political Posture
    Arundhati Roy never got over her childhood trauma, so brilliantly, maniacally disturbingly captured in The God of Small Things. She is still that intensely troubled toddler (No. No No!) who was traumatized by the ernormous stigma, shame and pain of her parents’ divorce. A Psychobiographical perspectives offers at least some insight into Roy’s No No not the state, only I know what justice really is. Its all about me, watch ME, ME ME!
    Now, Roy CHOSE, of her own free will to speak at a seminar or conference or whatever, titled “Azadi the Only Way.” She made that unfortunate choice. The conference was not called Social Justice for All Kashmiris. There was no Kashmiri Pandit or Tibetan refugee on the panel. So Roy’s choice to speak at such a seminar/conference leaves her open to the suggestion that she might be an is an anti-state fundamentalist.
    In my opinion, she is an anti-state fundamentalist.
    In Democracy there is no ONE Way, there is no ONLY Way.
    Therefore Roy is perhaps even anti-democratic.
    However, no matter how extreme or immoderate she is in her political alignments, her voice, along with the voices of stone-pelting youth, the voices of militants, like the voices of Panun Kashmir, the voice of Geelani , Mirwaiz, Malik, are all important.

    Indian democracy is just a whole lot bigger than Roy’s vision of it.
    Dr. Chithra KarunaKaran
    City University of New York
    Professor of Psychology
    EthicalDemocracy As Lived Practice

    • Free people are free to dissolve their political bonds. “A free society means you can dissolve it voluntarily.”

      It’s unfortunate that many in India view democracy in such a narrow way that they do not recognize this basic truth and would seek to punish dissent by jailing dissidents.

      That is not democracy; that’s called state repression. And it is the very thing that Roy fights against.

      She is a shining beacon of hope for millions of subjugated peoples around the globe.

      • I was born in India anhd have lived in India 5 months every year for the past 15 years.
        I have worked in the Kashmir Valley for three years and have working Shia, Sunni, Gorkha and Buddhist friends there. I have lived in their homes (all are working families) and walked those streets.
        The Valley is a DIVERSE sub-area in a very Diverse state.
        It is also important to note that the Kashmir region has a long history within the subcontinental framework of colonization and subjugation.
        There is ample evidence that India’s robust democracy is far far more ETHICAL and durable than Ms. Azadi’s , relentlessly self-promoting version of it!

        • Just as the Brits created Iraq intentionally as a mix of diverse peoples- thus easier to control by outsiders, Kashmir is both a mix of peoples and a playground for power politics. Left alone, Kashmiris might figure out how to happily live together. Sadly, ambitious armed states surround them.

          Dr. KarunaKaran points out one (psychobabble) reason why an individual might choose liberty over national loyalty. Our own Founders knew that predicament well. In this era of increasingly concentrated fascist powers, we should all carefully examine our own attachments.

          As one founder wrote: “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!” -Samuel Adams

  12. Hybrid: Now that’s what I wanted to say and couldn’t make materialize in my mind. I worry that the Hegelian Dialectic necessarily applies, though, could you be more specific or give a more defined example? Otherwise, it seems to boil down to: one person’s Democracy is another person’s autocracy is another person’s theocracy is another person’s hell.

  13. Yes, sort of… its a little vague due to the qualitites you are establishing here. But its better. What you are stating above sounds more Pavlovian than Hegelian Triad-ish. ?

  14. Yes, m’dear, I got that….you a prof. of phil or something…lol, or just a disgruntled social commentator? :-O lol…

  15. Nope, I think its covered, love. We are cut from the same fabric, though whether we are both warp or weft or one warp (me!) and you weft, or vice versa…ah, who cares??? I suspect you will covet being the Warp!! haha.

  16. HaHa! Gotcha!

  17. Hybrid: a good question. I find it ironic that India has become the Raj and Isreal the ReichStag. I am unsure what this prof. means by “robust democracy of India” when more than 2/3 of her people are starving and being politically manipulated…kinda like the US at this point in time. Gandhiji must be beyond rolling in his watery graves. Hey Ram!

    • “2/3 of her people are starving and being politically manipulated”

      About 1/3 of India’s population lives in poverty (not 2/3, look it up), but that doesn’t mean they are all starving. Pressures on rural agricultural people can be harsh, and many of us know they have been exacerbated in India by Monsanto and geneticially engineered crops, especially cotton, that needed irrigation which just wasn’t available.

      And face it- we are all politically manipulated. It is just too easy to make sweeping generalizations. Today 17 million children live in hunger- in America. That’s almost 25%.

      Before we attack others we should ask ourselves why Americans don’t believe in democracy anymore? We don’t see cooperation and trust as survival values- all we are shown is red in tooth and claw. Even if we reject popular culture for ourselves, it has its effect on us. Destruction of human cooperation is a potent weapon of tyranny.

      I strongly suspect the rural poor in India are better fitted to survive poverty because they remember how to cooperate and work together. We Americans think we are rich, we actually we may be the most empoverished culture in the world.

  18. Excuse the offence in my math. I think this kind of rhetorical thinking is mental masturbation. The discussion arose, if I remember, because of the good Dr.’s comments on Ms. Roy’s phsycological background. Maybe we should just keep it there or end this thread, eh?

  19. another excellent Tom Robbins quote… from the Fierce Invalids book: (from memory)

    “There is no winning. But you do get points for stopping or slowing the concentration of power in any one camp.”

  20. Pingback: Delhi files charges against Arundhati Roy for defending India’s tribes | COTO Report

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