. . . . . . "Dalit Solidarity News" is an information project run by the International Dalit Solidarity Network. News stories are extracts from online newsservices. Link to the full story is found at the end of each blog. Visit the International Dalit Solidarity Network at www.idsn.org


























 
Archives
<< current













 
Formed in 2000, the IDSN is a network of international organisations, national solidarity networks and affected country groups, campaigning against caste-based discrimination throughout the world, from the dalits of South Asia to the Osu of Nigeria and the Burakumin of Japan. Visit our website International Dalit Solidarity Network for more information. SUBMIT DALIT NEWS HERE



























DALIT SOLIDARITY NEWS
 
Tuesday, April 26, 2005  
CASTING A LINE

The Telegraph, India
26 April 2005

The outsiders’ gaze may cause changes in its object. It may be hoped that the expected changes in the sphere of caste discrimination in India will be for the better with the entry of the special rapporteurs to be sent by the United Nations Commission for Human Rights. That the rapporteurs will be leading a three-year investigation into discrimination on the basis of work and descent would be a source of reassurance for the 170 million Dalits in the country. It is really a measure of the strength of the long and painful Dalit movement that two organizations, the International Dalit Solidarity Network and the National campaign on Dalit Human Rights, have impelled the UN’s move through their campaigning. From that point of view, this sequence of events actually indicates that conditions within the country are already undergoing some kind of change. Such an impression is reinforced by the fact that the Indian government has not hemmed and hawed about the proposed study, although the record of the establishment with regard to violence against the backward classes has been far from squeaky clean.

An intervention of this kind brings up certain questions. It is a sorry state of things when one of the greatest shames of traditional Indian social arrangement has to be dragged into international daylight because the stubborn Indian mind has not changed in attitude in spite of pious official pronouncements against casteism. A study from the human rights perspective is doubtless important, and it can only be hoped that the old recalcitrant mindset will be educated in the process, and traditional structures of exploitation dismantled. Here it is necessary to ponder whether the stridently casteist politics of contemporary India is likely to help or hinder in the route to the ideal caste-unconscious society. And whether it is intelligent to keep on multiplying reserved sectors in the name of positive discrimination purely for electoral gain with no thought spared for the future self-respect and independence of the people benefiting from reservations. It is good that casteism is to be studied by outsiders, but the results of that study should not be used as further grist to the mill of avaricious politicians spouting the rhetoric of equality. The sufferers themselves would be their own best helpers, as the initial triumph at the UN has shown.

Link to the article

7:33 AM

Monday, April 25, 2005  
SC directs govt to enact laws on untouchability

The Rising Nepal
21 April, 2005

The Supreme Court directed the government to enact the relevant laws that would address the problems of the so-called lower caste people (dalits) as per Article 11(4) of the Constitution of Nepal 1990.

The government has been instructed to enact the laws after considering different national and international treaties. The court issued the instructions after responding to the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Lawyers National Campaign Against Untouchability, which has sought court orders to formulate suitable laws and regulations to abolish caste discrimination and untouchability. A special bench comprising of Justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhi, Khil Raj Regmi and Balaram K. C. issued the order today.

Link to the article

9:33 AM

 
S. Korean Professor Named Special Rapporteur of UN Human Rights Subpanel

The Korea Times
20 April, 2005

GENEVA (Yonhap) - A South Korean professor was named as a special rapporteur for a sub-commission of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights on Wednesday.

The commission approved a series of resolutions, including one in which the sub-commission appointed Jung Chin-sung and Japanese Professor Yozo Yokota as special rapporteurs tasked with preparing a comprehensive study on discrimination based on work and descent.
The resolution on Jung's appointment was passed without a vote.

Jung, 50-year-old female sociology professor at Seoul National University, will prepare a comprehensive study on discrimination on the basis of three working papers submitted to the sub-commission.

She has to submit a preliminary report to the sub-commission at its next 57th session, a progress report at the 58th and final report at the 59th with her Japanese colleague.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights will provide the rapporteurs with all the assistance necessary to enable them to accomplish the task over three years.

She is reportedly to visit India and Nepal where discrimination has not been rooted out though the Indian government abolished the caste system in 1947.
Jung is the second South Korean to be named a special rapporteur following Paik Choong-hyun, a prominent international law specialist, in 2000.

International activist groups advocating the rights of Dalits, or those considered lowest in the Hindu caste system, welcomed the appointment of Jung and Yokota. There are presumed to be over 170 million Dalits in India.

Link to the article

9:15 AM

 
UN wakes up to caste discrimination
Asia Times
22 April, 2005


Gustavo Capdevila GENEVA
The discrimination faced by over 260 million dalits in South Asia and other "lower caste" communities elsewhere in the world has finally been acknowledged by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. A resolution adopted by consensus at the commission's 61st session, currently in its last week in Geneva, appointed Yozo Yokota of Japan and Chin-Sung Chung of South Korea as special rapporteurs with the task of preparing a comprehensive study on discrimination based on occupation and descent, the criteria on which caste status is based.

This is the first time that a UN forum has explicitly addressed this problem that affects communities in close to 20 countries in South Asia, East Asia and Africa. Up until now, according to Dr Umakant of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights in India, there has been a conspiracy of silence regarding this issue among international organizations. The participants in this "conspiracy" include UN groups like the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, and the Committee on the Rights of the Child, he told IPS.

For many years, the issue of caste-based discrimination has been denied consideration at international meetings. During the UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, held in 2001 in Durban, South Africa, an initiative to include a paragraph recognizing discrimination on the basis of caste was unsuccessful. The inclusion of this reference to caste discrimination was blocked by the government of India, where the dalit community accounts for 170 million of the country's 1.1 billion inhabitants.

The participants in the Durban conference accepted the Indian government's position that "caste and race are two different identities", noted Vincent Manoharan, general secretary of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights. The reason that New Delhi has now allowed the Commission on Human Rights to adopt a resolution addressing the issue, he told IPS, is because the text refers to discrimination based on "work and descent", as opposed to "caste".

India's acceptance of this wording allowed the sub-commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights to prepare the draft resolution that was finally adopted Tuesday by the Commission on Human Rights. The sub-commission is the main subsidiary body to the UN Commission on Human Rights. It is composed of 26 experts who are elected by the member states of the commission, with due regard to equitable geographical distribution. The commission itself is made up of 53 members at a time, with rotating participation by all of the UN member states.

Manoharan noted that dalits - formerly referred to as "untouchables" - are totally segregated from the rest of Indian society, in terms of housing, education and employment opportunities. "Dalits cannot live alongside non-dalits in our country," he said. "Even in schools, the discrimination is rampant." Dalits are also denied access to public resources, such as drinking water, he added. "We are forced to undertake all the filthy jobs. Even today, human excreta is being carried by our people all over in India. No other community will take this job."

Although India has developed affirmative action policies and adopted constitutional safeguards and legislation addressing this issue, "when it comes to implementation, it is very, very minimal", Manoharan maintained. Moreover, discrimination based on work and descent is not limited to India, stressed Rikke Nohrlind, coordinator of the International Dalit Solidarity Network. Other countries where similar discrimination is practiced include Algeria, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guinea, Japan, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Yemen.

"Given the enormous number of people facing such an egregious and systematic denial of their basic rights, it is surprising that the United Nations has taken so long to recognize the problem," said Nohrlind. In Nepal, a country besieged by armed conflict between the forces of the monarchist regime and Maoist guerrillas, the most vulnerable sector of the population is the dalit community, he noted. The resolution adopted by the Commission on Human Rights calls for a comprehensive study of the issue and a search for solutions to eradicate this form of discrimination. The special rapporteurs appointed for this task are to present a final report to the sub-commission in three years.

Link to the article

9:10 AM

 
Global eye on caste bias

The Telegraph, India
22 April, 2005

KAY BENEDICT
Caste discrimination in India has come under international glare.
Thanks to relentless campaigning by the International Dalit Solidarity Network and the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, the UN has decided to appoint two special rapporteurs to investigate discrimination based on work and descent.

The move by the UN Commission for Human Rights, the first ever, will bring solace to some 170 million Dalits. The commission feels caste discrimination should be brought under human rights.
The rapporteurs (who report) have been asked to prepare a study on discrimination and submit a preliminary report to the sub-commission on promotion and protection of human rights. They would then have to give a progress and a final report.

In its Tuesday meeting in Geneva, the sub-commission adopted a resolution approving the appointment of the two representatives, Yozo Yokota and Chin-Sung Chung.
The move comes in the wake of an international consultation in Kathmandu last year. The Kathmandu Dalit Declaration lists measures to be taken not only by governments, the UN and development agencies, but also the private sector, trade unions and international financial institutions.

The UN sub-commission will undertake a three-year study led by the rapporteurs. Draft guidelines would then be put together to eliminate discrimination based on work and descent, said Arun Khote of the national campaign.

Its general secretary Vincent Manoharan, who campaigned in Geneva, said: “This is a belated victory in the internationalisation of the plight of Dalits.”
He said he welcomed the stance of the Indian government, which “did not stand in the way of the passing and adoption of this resolution”.

The move will help end caste and related forms of discrimination not only in India but also Bangladesh, Japan, Senegal and Nigeria.
Some 260 million people globally are deprived of basic rights by such forms of discrimination.
The resolution urged the UN secretary-general and the UN high commissioner for human rights to provide the special rapporteurs all the necessary assistance.

It authorised the rapporteurs to seek the co-operation of and collaboration with relevant treaty bodies and UN organs, agencies and mandates, including the committee on the elimination of racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, International Labour Organisation and the Unesco.

It urged that necessary constitutional, legislative and administrative measures, including appropriate forms of affirmative action and public education programmes, be put in place to prevent and redress discrimination based on work and descent.
Such measures should be respected and implemented by all state authorities at all levels, it added.

Link to the article

9:01 AM

 
Plight of Dalits on global agenda: UN names 2 reps

TIMES NEWS NETWORK
23 April, 2005

NEW DELHI: The relentless discrimination of the Dalits can no longer be pushed under the carpet as a domestic social problem. The plight of the Dalits has been internationalised with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNHCR), currently meeting in Geneva, finally adopting a resolution to appoint two special rapporteurs to "investigate and find solutions to tackle the entrenched problem of caste-based discrimination."

The resolution which was passed in August 2004 by the UN sub-commission but after adoption, the two rapporteurs - Yozo Yokota and Chin-Sung Chung - will undertake a three-year study to put together a set of guidelines to eliminate caste-based discrimination. The duo will work in collaboration with various organs of the United Nations including the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance; the ILO and Unesco.

What has come in for special praise from Dalit activists is the role of the Indian government at the UN Commission. Unlike the previous dispensation which opposed equating caste-discrimination with racial prejudice, UPA government representatives did not either block passing of the resolution nor its adoption. Says Vincent Manoharan of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights: "This is a belated victory in the internationalisation of the plight of Dalits. I welcome the stance of the recently-elected Indian government, which did not stand in the way of the passing and adoption of this resolution."

Dalit activists also point out that adoption of the resolution would not only be beneficial in highlighting caste-discrimination in India but other countries as well. According to the UNHCR, related forms of discrimination are also followed in countries like Nepal, Japan, Senegal and Nigeria. It is estimated that 260 million people globally are deprived of their basic rights by these forms of discrimination.

Link to the article

8:58 AM

 
UN to prepare report on caste

The Economic Times
24 April, 2005

GENEVA: Dalits in India could have something to look forward to. The United Nations Commission for Human Rights has finally recognised discrimination faced by castes, but under another name, and it adopted a resolution adopted by consensus at its 61st session appointing two special rapporteurs, Chin-sung Chung of South Korea and Yozo Yokota of Japan, to prepare a comprehensive study on discrimination with a search for solutions for its eradication within 3 years, based on occupation and descent, on which caste status is based. The report will address the problems faced in communities in nearly 20 countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, affecting 260 million people globally who are deprived of their basic rights by this form of discrimination.

“Given the enormous number of people facing such an egregious and systematic denial of their basic rights, it is surprising that the United Nations has taken so long to recognise the problem,” said Ms Rikke Noehrlind, co-ordinator of the International Dalit Solidarity Network. This is the first time that India did not oppose any initiative recognising discrimination of the basis of caste. In September 2001 it fought tooth and nail during the UN World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban against the inclusion of a paragraph recognising discrimination on the basis of caste, where the Dalit community accounts for 170 million of India’s 1.1 billion inhabitants. However India ceded when the name was changed. What is there in a name can one ask? But for the Government of India there is a lot of difference between discrimination based on caste and discrimination based on work and descent.

The mention of caste in any international forae or UN organisation would have singled out India but this way it includes Algeria, Bangladewsh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guinea, Japan, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Mauritiana, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Yemen. It is a known fact that despite legislation to fight the caste system the caste system in India has proven more resilient than these measures, with the political will to implement reforms insufficient. The UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights could prepare the draft resolution on India’s acceptance of this wording, which finally led to its adoption. The Sub-Commission is made up of 26 experts who are elected by the member states of the Commission.

Link to the article

8:49 AM

 
This page is powered by Blogger.