. . . . . . "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

Thursday, February 16, 2006  
Tsunami relief: UN report slams India

February 15 2006

Suma Guha Mozumder at the United Nations

A special report released here last week said the governments of South and Southeast Asian countries, including India, are violating the human rights of their own citizens as tsunami survivors endure discrimination, inadequate housing and assaults one year after the tragedy devastated the region.

Miloon Kothari, an expert who serves as Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on adequate housing, and serves in an independent personal capacity, said that the report shows government officials squandered the opportunity to protect women, children and other vulnerable citizens as relief and recovery operations took hold.

Tsunami: Waves of destruction
'Ninety percent of the people are still living in sub-standard housing,' said Kothari during a press conference, referring to the 1.8 million to 2.5 million people displaced by the December 26, 2004 disaster.

He said many people still do not have access to basic services such as water and sanitation. Women, especially widows and single women, have been left out of the recovery process and their physical safety has been compromised as incidents of domestic violence increase, he added.
Kothari wrote a foreword to the 64-page report, titled 'Tsunami Response: A Human Rights Assessment,' that was to be sent to former United States president Bill Clinton, who is now Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Envoy for Tsunami-affected Countries.
The report was prepared by three international aid groups: ActionAid International, Johannesburg; PDHRE, People's Movement for Human Rights Learning, New York City; and Habitat International Coalition, New Delhi.

[...] Among its 10 recommendations, the report calls for the UN system to play a larger role in monitoring human rights compliance and for the international community, including global institutions providing financing to the devastated areas, to integrate human rights into their humanitarian donor policies.

India to develop tsunami warning system
Speaking at the press conference to launch the report Kothari said the report demonstrated clearly that, in the face of such an overwhelming tragedy, governments had failed to uphold the human rights to food, health, housing and livelihood of their most vulnerable citizens. Large numbers of survivors were forced to live in conditions that failed to meet criteria stipulated by international human rights standards which all the affected countries had signed and ratified, he added.

Shockingly, Kothari pointed out, said, a majority of those people were still living in temporary shelters while many others remained mired in unacceptably rudimentary conditions that were similar to the emergency relief shelters set up in the tsunami's immediate aftermath. [...]
Karisiddamma Edward, a representative of a tsunami-affected community in Tamil Nadu who also addressed the press conference, said that in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami, members of her community had been excluded from disaster relief merely for being from a lower caste. They had been left with no food, water or shelter.

She said that the 'Dalits' and 'tribal' communities suffered severe discrimination, including prohibitions barring them from education, as well as from temples and water sources used by members of higher castes. In one village, survivors had not been allowed to stay in the local tsunami relief center and the government had refused to give them assistance because nobody from that village had died.

Judy De Vadawason, representative of a tsunami-affected community in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, the war-affected eastern part of the island nation where people had been neglected for 15 years, said the tsunami had displaced some people several times, especially women and children, who were the most marginalized. While households headed by single women were entitled to about $150 in compensation for a child killed by the tsunami, each such mother had to bring in the dead child's father, even if he had left his wife to raise the child on her own. The compensation money was then given to the former husband.

Also attending the press conference was Ramesh Singh, Executive Director of Action Aid International, who said the report showed that there had been a breach of the trust offered by those who had emptied their pockets and expressed their solidarity to the tsunami survivors and the governments which had grossly failed to uphold the human rights of the vulnerable and marginalized people whose lives the tsunami had devastated even more.

The international development community, particularly financing institutions that were pouring in money, should make sure that their plans and programs embraced human rights standards as well as economic growth indicators, he said.

Minar Pimple, Executive Director of People's Movement for Human Rights Learning, moderated the press conference and also introduced a short film, Human Rights after the Tsunami, showing the disaster's impact on communities in India, the Maldives and Sri Lanka.


Read the full article

9:29 AM

Tuesday, February 14, 2006  
Frustrated rapists chop off Dalit girl's arm

The Times of India
13 February 2006

LUCKNOW: A gutsy Dalit teenager fought off a gang rape attempt but lost her right arm when the frustrated men chopped it off in revenge in an Uttar Pradesh village. The 15-year-old girl, Anju, put up a daring fight against the four men who tried to rape her in the fields near Achalda village in Auraiya district, 250 km from here, on Sunday.

Frustrated at the daring resistance put up by Anju, the men chopped off her arm and abandoned her, leaving her bleeding profusely in an unconscious state. They allegedly carried away her arm, police said.

Significantly, the incident took place in the neighbourhood of Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's hometown, Etawah.

When the girl approached the Auraiya police station to register her complaint, the cops refused to register the case. It was only after her father, Lal Singh, approached the district superintendent of police that a formal report was lodged.

Link to the article

9:21 AM

Four dozen Dalit huts set ablaze

Hindustan Times
February 13, 2006

LAND MAFIA’S HENCHMEN set ablaze four dozen huts of Dalits in Chakra Awwal, near Transport Nagar, under Rajghat police station, on Monday.
Ironically, the incident took place on a day when the nation was celebrating the birth anniversary of Dalit icon Sant Ravidas.

Four dozen armed men stormed the Dalit slum, set ablaze their huts, demolished small houses and looted property. Police personnel reached the spot after half-an-hour and faced stiff resistance from the armed men, who pelted the men in khaki with stones.

Half-a-dozen residents, mostly women, sustained injuries when they opposed the henchmen. Bhanmati, Mira Devi, Sunita, Mamta, Kalawadi and Prem were admitted to the district hospital.
The Gorakhpur Development Authority had acquired the land to develop Transport Nagar, but failed to fulfil its promise to compensate the residents.

Later, displaced Dalit families constructed huts around a pond two decades ago.
Residents complained that a district collectorate employee Sugriv Nishad, resident of Belwar village under Jhangha police station, fraudulently got the land registered in his name.
His henchmen raided the Dalit slum and tried to evict the residents on Monday. Shyam Sunder, Ganga Prasad, Brahmanand and others said women offered resistance to these men who even opened fire to scare away the slum-dwellers.

Police officials rushed to the spot in a bid to bring the situation under control. Policemen were deployed in the area to monitor the situation.

Angy Dalit families demanded compensation from the State Government, following the incident.

Link to the article

9:16 AM

SC notice to Centre on writ on Dalit conversions

February 13, 2006

The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre on a writ petition challenging the constitutional validity of para 3 of the Constitution (schedule castes) Order, 1950, denying the benefits of reservation to Dalits who convert to Islam or Christianity.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal, Justice C K Thakker and Justice R V Raveendran issued notices on the petition of a Dalit, Dr Mukesh Kumar, who had converted to Islam and become Mohd. Sadiq, and his wife Reena Singh who is the pradhan of a village panchayat but is not embracing the religion for fear of losing her post.

Mohd Sadiq had applied for the post of a lecturer in Allahabad University under the SC quota but his claim was rejected on the grounds that he had converted to Islam.

The petitioner has challenged the validity of the impugned order on the grounds that while Dalit converts to Sikhism and Buddhism were being extended the benefits of reservation from SC quota, converts to Islam and Christianity failed to remove the stigma of being Dalits.

Link to the article

9:10 AM

Monday, February 13, 2006  
India rejects report on human rights violations of tsunami survivors


BANGALORE, India (AFX) - India has rejected a report alleging human rights violations of tsunami survivors and said the authors had arrived at their conclusions based on 'generalized statements.' 'I cannot respond until and unless I have specific examples in front of me,' Ashim Khurana, Joint Secretary of India's National Disaster Management department, told Agence France-Presse. 'These (conclusions) are based on generalized statements,' Khurana said. 'One can respond only if they are illustrated by specific examples.'

The report was released yesterday by non-governmental organizations ActionAid International, the People's Movement for Human Rights Education and Habitat International Coalition. The authors conducted research in India, Indonesia, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Thailand, the countries worst hit by the Dec 2004 tsunami. The report said many survivors had complained of lack of government protection against discrimination, land grabs and violence while the poorest, particularly women, were subjected to sexual abuses.

The study of more than 50,000 people in the five countries found that in many places, survivors had been driven from their land and denied food, clean water and a secure home. It said compensation programs had ignored the needs of vulnerable groups including women, farm laborers and migrant workers. 'Widows and other single women have frequently been denied compensation which has ... been handed out to male members of the family,' the report said. It added that groups experiencing discrimination included Mokens (Sea Gypsies) in Thailand, Dalits (so-called untouchables) in India and war-displaced people in Sri Lanka.

PV Unnikrishnan, spokesman for ActionAid International India, said he stands by the report. 'This (report) is borne out of extensive research and in India providing shelter to the survivors is yet to be a reality. It is a human right,' Unnikrishnan told AFP. 'Discriminatory policies continue as fisherfolk do not have rights to their land. 'On the ground in village after village there is discrimination towards the lower caste.

This has been true from the start, when emergency aid was provided. The Indian government must know it is not providing charity but fulfilling a human right,' he said. The tsunami on Dec 26, 2004 killed about 220,000 people in 11 Indian Ocean countries. More than 16,000 people died in India.

Link to the article

10:31 AM

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