. . . . . . "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

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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

Monday, May 02, 2005  
Probe caste atrocities in TN: Krishnasamy

Chennai Online
2 May, 2005

The Puthiya Tamizhakam, a Dalit party in Tamil Nadu, has appealed to the Governor to direct the Madurai district collector not to accept the resignation of the Keeripatti panchayat president, who did so immediately after he assumed office recently.

In a memorandum to the Governor, Surjit Singh Barnala, a copy of which was released to the press, party president Dr K Krishnasamy, said that one Alugumalai, elected as president from the reserved panchayat recently, 'was forced to resign immediately after being sworn in'.
The reasons stated - that they had to live satisfactorily, showed his fear. 'In the name of an affidavit, he was forced to sign his resignation letter' Krishnasamy claimed.

Urging the Governor to call for a detailed report from the government on 'caste atrocities,' he said it had not been possible to conduct local body elections for the past nine years in four village panchayats--Papapatti, Keeripatti and Nattarmangalam in Madurai and Kottakachinanthal of Virudungar districts."The State can easily announce these villages as disturbed areas and invoke 1989 SC/ST Atrocities act. Unfortunately State machinery is in connivance with the perpetrators of such atrocities.
The result, Dalits are suffering discrimination and not able to enjoy their democratic rights, he alleged.

Requesting that a special investigation team be constituted to find out the real facts, he demanded that a special ordinance be issued to protect the elected member and also to nominate Dalit Panchayat chiefs there.
Link to the article

7:33 AM

'Acts of discrimination' worry EP

Chennai Online
2 May, 2005

The European Parliament has expressed concern at continual acts of discrimination in the Indian society based on caste-related, social or religious status and human rights abuses by security forces in the Kashmir region.

In its annual report on Human Rights around the world adopted in Brussel, the European Parliament (EP) recognised "India is the largest functioning democracy in the world and supports the progress made in the area of human rights."

However, the EP said it remained "concerned at continual acts of discrimination in Indian society based on caste-related, social or religious status."
"While this is primarily social problem in rural areas, it is an area in which the Indian government needs to promote social change," it said.

"We are happy to note that they have recognized progress made in the human rights sector in India," said an Indian embassy official in Brussels. "We are happy that they also recognize the government of India's continued efforts to promote social change in India," the official said.

Read the full article

7:29 AM

Discrimination against Dalits

The Hindu
2 May, 2005

Mari Marcel Thekaekara

The appointment of two U.N. Special Rapporteurs could strengthen the struggle to end caste-based discrimination.
DALITS ALL over the world have something to rejoice about. Durban was not in vain.
On April 19, 2005, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights adopted a Resolution to appoint two Special Rapporteurs to tackle caste-based discrimination.

The appointment of the two rapporteurs, Yozo Yokota and Chin-Sung Chung, was the result of years of painstaking advocacy work by the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) and the International Dalit Solidarity Network. The resolution was first passed in August 2004 by the U.N. Sub-Commission.

The struggle began with the build-up to the World Conference Against Racism in 2001. The then Indian Government was determined to block it. "Caste is not race," its representative in Geneva argued. "No, you're right," said Martin Macwan, then Convener of NCDHR. "It's far worse than race." "You cannot wash our dirty linen in public" argued the Government. "Your admission that we have dirty linen is a first step forward. It's an admission that the problem exists," retorted the NCDHR.

Difficult path
The road to U.N. recognition of the problem proved rocky. But a brilliant advocacy campaign managed the breakthrough.
The Sub-Commission, in August 2000, issued a significant resolution declaring that discrimination based on work and descent is prohibited by international human rights law, and called on Governments to take measures to eliminate this type of discrimination.
In a series of working papers presented to the Sub-Commission, the global dimensions of this form of discrimination, and its main features, have been examined in considerable detail.
The Commission's decision comes in the wake of an International Consultation held in Kathmandu last year on how to address the problem.

Concrete steps
The Kathmandu Dalit Declaration provides concrete measures that can be taken not only by Governments, the U.N. and development agencies, but also the private sector, trade unions, and international financial institutions.
One of the proposals has now been fulfilled in the form of the appointment of the Special Rapporteurs.
The countries practising various forms of caste discrimination on the basis of descent or work and occupation have been listed as Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Algeria, Libya, Ethiopia, India, Japan, Kenya, Mauritania, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Senegal, Somalia, and Sri Lanka.

Widespread discrimination
Research by Dalit groups points out that caste discrimination in various forms exists practically everywhere in the world where the Indian diaspora exists.
The Sub-Commission will now undertake a three-year study, led by Mr. Yozo Yokota and Ms. Chin-Sung Chung, and put together a draft set of guidelines to eliminate this form of discrimination.
Paul Divakar, NCDHR National Convener, said: "Dalits have pierced through the wall of silence in the U.N. For the first time, Dalit rights and similar concerns of descent and work based discrimination may be addressed by the High Commission on Human Rights on a par with other Human Rights concerns."

Getting visibility
Asked how this affected the Dalit community on the ground, Mr. Divakar said "the issues have to be decided at the panchayat level, but the tremendous amount of visibility that the issue is getting and the fact that every year the Special Rapporteurs have to present the issue at the U.N. is going to have an impact on the impunity factor.
"Instances of impunity will reduce, stricter monitoring systems will be put in place, formal channels will be more alert, the National Human Rights mechanisms which are part of the broader platform at the U.N. will have to take the issue more seriously, show results. So finally, the untouchability of caste in the U.N. is behind us."
Human rights defenders the world over will be watching and waiting. If this development succeeds in eliminating millennia of shameful discrimination, it will finally make us a civilised nation.
(The writer is Visiting Skoll Fellow, Said Business School, Oxford University.)
Link to the article

7:15 AM

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