Documenting key cases where caste discrimination impacts negatively on the freedom of association and assembly in Nepal and India. Submission made jointly by: International Dalit Solidarity Network - IDSN Feminist Dalit Organization - FEDO Nepal Dalit NGO Federation - DNF National Dalit Movement for Justice - NDMJ National Campaign on Dalit Rights - NCDR Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network - DHRDN
Rape culture in India. A social environment where sexual violence is normalised, impunity is widespread, and victim-blaming rife; meaning rape becomes increasingly common.
Amnesty International (AI), Front Line Defenders (FLD), Human Rights Watch (HRW), IDSN, Minority Rights Group International (MRG), Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) issued a joint letter calling on the EU to specifically address serious concerns for the safety and rights of human rights defenders in India.
The need for more attention to be paid to intersectional caste and gender discrimination and for transforming mindsets through human rights education and awareness raising, was highlighted at the UN multi-stakeholder hearing ‘Accelerating the Realization of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of all Women and Girls’ on 21 July.
I Defend Rights interview Dalit women leaders in India, Manjula Pradeep and Asha Kowtal, who explain and challenge the caste system that has deemed hundreds of millions of Indians untouchables.
On Friday 8 March, Ruth Manorama, a Dalit human rights defender, delivered a statement, co-sponsored by the International Movement Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination and by the Right Livelihood Award (in solidarity with IDSN), during the 40th regular session of the Human Rights Council. She also spoke on the panel at the Right Livelihood side-event on Women Human Rights Defenders.
IDSN and 257 other NGOs issued a statement for the meeting between the ECOSOC NGO Committee and accredited NGOS, raising concern over the “practices of the Committee that have inappropriately blocked the participation of some NGOs, in particular human rights NGOs, through procedural tactics including perpetual and repetitive questioning of applicants."
On 28 August 2018, five prominent Indian human rights activists were arrested during simultaneous police raids conducted across India. The raids were part of an investigation into events that occurred earlier this year during a Dalit commemoration of an 1818 battle in Bhima Koregaon in which many Dalits lost their lives, and they follow a wider crackdown on Indian activists in recent months.
In his address to the Human Rights Council, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, raised concern over the “repeated deferrals and apparent lack of transparency amounting to a de facto rejection on the granting of IDSN’s UN consultative status.”
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.”
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have released a statement asking the Indian Government to end politically motivated arrests of Dalit rights activists who are simply doing their work to defend human rights in the country. IDSN continuously raises this issue in international fora and fully endorses and supports this statement.
A group of UN human rights experts have expressed grave concerns about the continued detention of Mauritanian blogger Cheikh Ould Mohamed M’kheitir on charges that violate his human rights. Mr. M’kheitir was arrested in January 2014 and sentenced to death for apostasy in after publishing an article online questioning the use of religious justification to legitimise caste discrimination.
Arrested during nationwide protests in April, called by Dalit organisations, the juveniles' families have stated that the boys were picked up by police only because they were Dalits standing up for their rights. “My son’s only crime is that he is a Dalit,” says the father of one of the boys. “We thought that if our son studied well, the family’s fortune would change for the better. But now they have pressed so many charges against him that his whole life will become embroiled in it.” News site The Wire has covered this story and IDSN members in India are currently conducting fact-finding in relation to this case.
Human Rights Defenders’ Alert India have issued the following urgent appeal: Dalit activists brutally assaulted, arrested and detained by police for seeking action on encroachment of public property in Kochi, Kerala.
The HRDA-India, a forum for the protection of human rights defenders, has issued an urgent appeal for action to protect Dalit human rights defender Mr. Rajat Kalsan. Mr Kalsan is working to help Dalits gain justice and protection from abuses as a lawyer and activist in Haryana state. He has worked on gang-rape cases and cases of attack and arson committed by dominant castes against Dalits and a host of other cases involving serious violations of human rights. The appeal states that due to this work, dominant caste leaders are colluding with local police to file false charges against Mr. Rajat and cause him serious harm.
Rights defenders in India are calling on the Indian Government to outline a concrete action plan within one month to end the dangerous and demeaning practice of manual scavenging. The call comes following the death of 27 manual scavengers in India within the span of one month, outlined in a press release by rights NGO Safai Karmchari Andolan (SKA).
IDSN member People’s Watch is fighting a legal battle in the Indian courts to regain their foreign funding license, first revoked by the Indian Government in 2012. The organisation, a program unit of the Centre for Promotion of Social Concerns [CPSC], has been charged by the Ministry of Home Affairs with “using foreign contributions to the detriment of India’s image.” The loss of the license to receive foreign funding (FCRA) has completely crippled the organisation, which has for over a decade been protecting and upholding the rights of the most disadvantaged groups in India.