The International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) welcomes the adoption of the European Parliament’s annual report on human rights and democracy in the world 2018 and the European Union’s policy on the matter. The European Parliament’s report notes “with great concern the scale and consequences of caste hierarchies, caste-based discrimination and the perpetuation of caste-based human rights violations, including the denial of access to the legal system or employment, continued segregation, poverty and stigmatisation, and caste-related barriers to the exercise of basic human rights and facilitation of human development”.
From the streets of South Asia, activists fighting for justice, human rights and freedom from caste apartheid are now bringing the campaign #NoCasteLeftBehind to Europe. The activists will be in Brussels to take part in the European Development Days from 18-19 June.
An IDSN delegation with Dalit human rights defenders from Nepal, India and Bangladesh made its mark on the European Development Days 2019, with a stand in the Global Village and participation in key sessions. The event also saw the launch of IDSN’s #NoCasteLeftBehind initiative with participants joining hands to fight caste discrimination. After the European Development Days, the delegation also met with key EU officials, including the new EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore.
IDSN welcomes the new EU Human Rights Guidelines on Non-discrimination in External Action, where caste is mentioned several times as a form of discrimination that must be addressed. It is specified in the guidelines that the term ‘descent’, “includes discrimination against members of communities based on forms of social stratification such as caste and analogous systems of inherited status”, and that the EU should, “Participate actively in UN mechanisms and processes dedicated to general and specific discrimination related issues such as … discrimination based on caste (work and descent)”. The guidelines also state the EU must encourage and support active participation of civil society in multilateral fora and mechanisms in relation to discrimination based on caste (work and descent).
MEPs ask EU to act to end the unjust blocking of IDSN’s UN accreditation Several high-profile members of the European Parliament have sent a letter to the EU High-Representative for Foreign Affairs, Frederica Mogherini, asking the EU to take action to support IDSN’s 10-year quest for UN accreditation, at the UN NGO Committee.
The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, has been asked by a Member of the European Parliament, Jean Lambert, to outline any specific steps that the EU has taken to proactively support IDSN’s Consultative Status at the UN to date and what plans exist for future support.
Dalit women activists from India and Nepal took part in the European Development days to share their experiences with, and learn from, other women activists fighting similar struggles across the globe. The women also shared their stories with EU officials and development actors.
Nine Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have issued a letter to the EU High Representative, Frederica Mogherini, urging for the EU to cancel all agreements with India until human rights activists, that have been unjustly arrested, have been released and “the hunt against the Adivasis, Dalits, religious minorities and Kashmir, Manipuri people is stopped.”
The EU High Representative on Foreign Affairs has reiterated the EU’s commitment to fighting caste-based discrimination and gender-based violence, following the rape of five female anti-trafficking activists in India, earlier this summer. The women were performing a play against human trafficking in Jharkhand state when they were abducted and gang-raped.
The EU-NGO Human Rights Forum took place in Brussels from 5-6 December with the participation of Dalit human rights defenders, who formed part of an IDSN delegation to the forum. The theme of the forum was “Human rights under threat: Exploring new approaches in a challenging global context.” Dalit defenders participated in discussions on how to move forward and how to ensure more action to fight caste discrimination, also at the EU level. Among recommendations to take forward were the need for the EU to ensure that caste discrimination is addressed in all bilateral dealings with caste-affected countries and for EU member states to raise the issue of caste-related human rights violations at the United Nations. Ankita, representing the Feminist Dalit Organisation – Nepal, also discussed the multiple discrimination faced by Dalit women in caste-affected countries and continued discrimination in Nepal.
A cross-party group of prominent Members of the European Parliament has sent an open letter to the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, calling on them to address caste discrimination directly at the October EU-India Summit.
In its 2016 Report on the “Annual Report on human rights and democracy in the world and the European Union’s policy on the matter” the European Parliament (EP) raises deep concern over grave violations of Dalit human rights. The report calls for an EU policy development on caste discrimination.
A cross-party group of Members of the European Parliament have asked the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, to ensure that EU action to address caste discrimination is prioritised at the highest levels.
Print The third week of March 2016 was an eventful one for IDSN. The network’s highest body assembled in Geneva, the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues presented a ground-breaking report on caste discrimination, and IDSN members met a number of high-ranking UN officials.
On the eve of today’s EU-India Summit, Human Rights Watch has written a letter to the EU addressing numerous key human rights issues. These include the failure of the Indian government to protect the country’s Dalit population.
Dalit Human rights defenders and a team from the IDSN secretariat took part in The European Instrument on Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) 2014 Forum on Protecting Those Who Protect. Asha Kowtal, General Secretary of the National Dalit Women’s movement in India, spoke about Dalit women human rights defenders as part of a panel while Henri Tiphagne raised the issue of shrinking space for human rights defenders in India.
The European Parliament are urging EU member states to address caste discrimination at the March session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC25), currently underway. IDSN has issued recommendations for the HRC25 and Navi Pillay and Ban Ki-moon mention caste in their contributions to the council session.