The myth that caste discrimination in India is a thing of the past must be dispelled and on the 14th of April, Video Volunteers launch 35 community videos documenting caste discrimination across 12 states in India, to mark Ambedkar day, the birthday of a Dalit hero who fought for equality and justice for India’s Dalits.
The videos are made by community video activists, many of them Dalits, who witness discrimination first hand on a daily basis. They document the violence, murder, abuse, public humiliation, and segregation, lack of access to justice, resources and basic services that Dalits across India continue to face.
The International Dalit Solidarity Network fully endorse the Campaign to End Untouchability being launched by Video Volunteers who alongside many others work tirelessly to document cases of discrimination written, verbally and visually, and bring them to the attention of the public and National and International decision makers. What this documentation continues to find is that caste discrimination is still very much alive in India, as well as in other countries in South Asia and across the world.
This spring, we are witnessing a surge in Dalit activism in India, and Dalits, and those who raise their voices in solidarity, are doing their part to fight against discrimination. We can all do our part to help end a type of discrimination that the Prime Minister of India himself has termed a ‘blot on humanity’ and likened to apartheid in South Africa.
Across the globe citizens and the media can raise awareness about this issue and politicians, government officials and opinion makers can speak out against caste and demand the inclusion of action to end caste discrimination at local, national, regional and international levels.
A few days ago the Norwegian Minister for Development, Heikki Holmås, expressed deep concern that the mindset of discrimination that permeates not only the public but also parts of the police, judiciary and authorities in India and Nepal continues to hamper efforts to improve the standing of Dalits. He urged India and Nepal to take responsibility to do everything in their power to change this mindset and also spoke of the role of the international community stating that,
“International attention to this issue is important … The [Norwegian] Government will continue to work to improve the circumstances of this group. We will do this through our projects in India, through the United Nations and our work with human rights.”
International political commitments like this are imperative and also highly relevant in the context of the upcoming UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of India, where states can play a pivotal role in urging India to make tackling caste discrimination a top priority.
Video Volunteers Campaign to End Untouchability
Read more about the campaign on www.videovolunteers.org where you can watch the teaser video as well as all 35 videos on the 14th of April.
Urgent Global Call for Action to End Caste Discrimination
Some months ago, a large consultation on caste discrimination was held by IDSN in Kathmandu in Nepal and an Urgent Global Call for Action to End Caste Discrimination was launched including recommendations on what can be done. Read the Declaration, Global Call and Recommendations here >>
The IDSN website www.idsn.org offers documentation, information, news and other resources on caste discrimination.
Universal Periodic Review of India
More information on the UPR of India in May is available herehttp://idsn.org/international-advocacy/un/universal-periodic-review/upr-india/including recommendations.