. . . . . . "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

<< 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

Friday, August 12, 2005  
Caste discrimination cause of conflict in Nepal: Report

OneWorld South Asia
11 August 2005

Geneva: Caste discrimination is a root cause and an insidious consequence of the civil war in Nepal, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice charged in a new report released today.

The conflict will remain unresolved without a sustained commitment to ending caste-based abuses. The 65-page report, titled "The Missing Piece of the Puzzle: Caste Discrimination and the Conflict in Nepal," exposes the as yet undocumented impact of the civil war on Nepal's most vulnerable citizens: Dalits or so-called untouchables. The report was released in Geneva today during the two-week meeting of the U.N. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

The Maoist insurgents have capitalized on caste and gender discrimination in Nepal by heavily recruiting Dalits and women for their "people's militia." Maoist indoctrination often includes a special emphasis on the oppression of the "lower castes," and the Maoists' alleged role in liberating them. The dismantling of the educational system also has fed large numbers of children into the militia. Once recruited, Dalits are relegated to the lower ranks of the movement and are, in effect, taking the bullets for the Maoist insurgency.

Coupled with reports that the practice of "untouchability" and sexual abuse against Dalit women persists even within the ranks of the Maoist movement, evidence shows that Dalits have begun to feel extremely alienated and underserved by the movement that purports to liberate them.

"The 'People's War' has turned on the very people it purported to empower; Dalits have proven to be the favored victim of both State forces and Maoists," said Smita Narula, Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. The militarization of the conflict has exacerbated caste dynamics and the resulting abuses against Dalits in Nepal. The overwhelming majority of senior officers in the RNA continue to hail from "upper-caste" communities.

While individual Dalit men and women have actively joined Maoist forces, Dalit communities as a whole are collectively and summarily punished by state agents, even when there is no evidence of their involvement in the insurgency. Caste-based profiling is also a common occurrence at security check posts and during village interrogation round-ups. The burgeoning presence of the police and army in the villages has led to even greater sexual abuse and exploitation of Dalit women.

The State has also armed upper-caste village militias-or village defense committees-whose members abuse their power to settle personal scores and target Dalits and religious minorities. "Rather than fulfilling its international human rights obligations to end caste-based discrimination, the Nepalese government has branded Dalits and the poor as 'terrorists' and has unleashed a wave of extrajudicial killings and forced 'disappearances' under the cover of fighting the global 'war on terror,'" Narula stated. Dalit civilians also face discrimination and egregious abuses at the hands of Maoists.

Maoists openly murder and publicly torture those individuals they have deemed to be adversaries of their movement and have ravaged the civilian population throughout the countryside with tactics that include sexual assault and forced overnight stays in Dalit homes. Through the ongoing efforts of international human rights NGOs, the United Nations, and the European Union, Nepal is increasingly under scrutiny for egregious human rights violations committed by state security forces and Maoist insurgents.

"The international community is trying to treat the symptoms without diagnosing the disease," Narula added. "A focus on caste discrimination is notably absent from international interventions in Nepal." On February 1, 2005 King Gyanendra declared a state of emergency in Nepal and vested all executive authority in the monarchy. Hundreds of journalists, students, and activists have since been detained. Though the state of emergency has been formally lifted, severe restrictions on the media and civil society remain in place, making it increasingly difficult to monitor human rights abuses in Nepal.

The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice called on the Nepalese government to restore civil liberties and fulfill its human rights obligations to end caste-based discrimination. The Center also called on the Maoist leadership to respect applicable international standards regarding protection of Dalit human rights.

The report is based on primary research conducted in nearly thirty districts in Nepal over a period of two-and-a-half years between July 2001 and May 2005. The research has been substantiated and corroborated by reputable human rights defenders and caste discrimination experts in Nepal. The U.N. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) have paid increasing attention to caste discrimination in recent years. CERD Member Morten Kjærum and Sub-Commission Special Rapporteurs Chin Sung Chung and Yozo Yokota helped launch the report in cooperation with the International Dalit Solidarity Network and Anti-Slavery International.

The report, which includes recent photographs of the conflict and political upheaval in Nepal, can be accessed here.

Read the full article

8:19 AM

‘We want to replicate Dalit struggle in Nepal’

ExpressIndia - Ahmedabad Newsline
11 August 2005

THOUGH the Dalits in Nepal are paid much better for cleaning toilets in their country, they believe that they are much more backward from the Dalits in India in the absence of any political, educational and vocational reservation in the country.

A group of 16 Nepali Dalit activists visited Ahmedabad for three days to get some exposure to the Dalit movement here and to get some knowledge of the overall situation of the Dalits. The group visited the city under the aegis of an NGO Navsarjan, working for the upliftment of Dalits in Gujarat and was led by Hirabhai Biswokarma from the Dalit NGO Federation of Nepal.

Speaking to the Ahmedabad Newsline Hirabhai said,‘‘Nepal has 23.4 million per cent population and 20 per cent of them are Dalits but still, it being a Hindu nation, the discrimation of Dalits remains the same in lack of any reservation for them and due to poor implementation of land ownership laws.’’

The ratio of Dalit children dropping out of the primary school is quite high due to discrimination by the upper castes. Depicting land ownership as a vital thing for economic reformation he said,‘‘There is a law in Nepal which restricts anyone from acquiring land more than a certain limit but the law is not being implemented properly and most of them are landless.’’

‘‘Here we saw various villages and the Dalit struggle to reclaim their land. We would like to replicate the same in Nepal also.’’

The group also lamented absence of a leader like Dr Ambedkar in Nepal to lead them against the injustice being done by the upper castes.

Due to absence of reservation, he said, there are very few government jobs available to the Dalits. ‘‘Not a single Dalit is in the civil services and only after the Mao militancy that they have started getting jobs in the army,’’ they said, adding, ‘‘all the political parties have in principle accepted the need to have reservation for the Dalits but none seem to be sincerely implementing their words in to action,’’ Hirabhai said.

Sharda Biswokarma from delegation said that even the media backed by the monarchy or by the government do not raise the Dalit issues.

The delegation visited various villages in Sayla taluka and interacted with the Dalits who reclaimed their land after a long fight.The group, however, was disappointed to see the wages safai workers get for cleaning toilets in India against the one they get in Nepal. Hirabhai said,‘‘The work of cleaning safety tanks in Nepal is one of the highly paid jobs and you can guage it by the fact that many of the non-Dalits are also doing it.’’

Link to the article

8:04 AM

Wednesday, August 10, 2005  
Priest promotes intercaste marriage

Kantipur Online
8 August 2005


Even as the janajatis compartmentalize themselves into the so-called "higher" and "lower" castes, a pundit (brahmin priest) has openly been promoting intercaste marriage to end caste-based discrimination in his hometown.

A resident of Baderwa, Pundit Akhilesh Pandeya is busy convincing local communities to go for intercaste marriage. "Intercaste wedlock produces the best offsprings," he says.
"In a village community like ours, intercaste marriage is the best and most effective solution to the problem of caste discrimination," he says. "Many families have prospered, and their children have turned out intelligent and healthy." Citing from the Mahabharat, he says, "Arjun and Pandu were born out of intercaste wedlock."

He argues that his campaign should come as a relief for lovers belonging to different castes, whose love cannot flower due to the objections of orthodox parents.

Parents in a conservative society do not want their sons and daughters marrying someone of lower caste on religious grounds, even if there is genuine love involved. They view intercaste marriage as immoral. Even local priests avoid performing intercaste marriage rituals. However, Pandeya, a modern priest, prefers to perform intercaste marriage ceremonies. He even refuses to accept "fee" for performing the ritual.

He has, till now, performed over a dozen intercaste marriage rituals and also helped twice this number of boys and girls belonging to different backgrounds tie the nuptial knot.
"This pundit not only performs marriage rituals for lovers belonging to different castes here but also helps communities come closer by shedding off their differences," said Mahesh Paswan, a local resident.

Pandeya wants more people to support his campaign to end caste discrimination, which is deeply rooted in rural communities.

Link to the article

10:16 AM

This page is powered by Blogger.