IDSN participated actively in the 11th Session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues from the 29-30 November, under the theme “Statelessness: A Minority Issue”. IDSN members from Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan outlined how Dalits in reality often suffer de facto statelessness due to extreme marginalization and lack of access to rights.
Renu Sijapati from the Feminist Dalit Organization of Nepal (FEDO Nepal), gave a statement at the Forum underscoring the many obstacles faced by Dalits in Nepal in obtaining citizenship certificates, which would enable them to register on the voter’s list, register marriages or births, buy or sell land, appear in professional exams, open bank accounts or have access to credit, for example.
“Many of those obstacles put the Dalit community in a situation of de facto statelessness”, stated Sijapati.
Tamanna Baraik from the Dalit women forum / BDERM, spoke about the situation of Dalits in Bangladesh at the Forum’s prepreratory meeting, including inequality as regards the right to health and land. On the right to work, she mentioned that Dalits in Bangladesh are often assigned the least qualified and most manual work.
Pirhbu Lal Satyani, a Pakistani activist, pointed out in his statement, at the Forum, that many Dalits in Pakistan sustain a de facto statelessness, through poverty and segregation. He explained that most of the development schemes go to upper caste communities. Even in urban settings, some of the Dalits communities live a nomadic life in squalid slums.
He explained that the way forward is to rehabilitate the nomadic Dalit minority community in Pakistan and to provide them with due citizenship rights by putting efforts into registering members of these communities, by issuing them with national identity cards, birth certificates of their children and also by declaring the relevant populations in the upcoming census results.
The Forum was chaired by former Special Rapporteur, Ms. Rita Itzák Ndiaye, while the current Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Mr Fernand de Varennes, guided the work of the forum.
Renu, Pirbhu and Tamanna give their views on participating in the Forum in the videos below.
**The yearly Forum on Minorities Issues is a platform established by the Human Rights Council in 2007 in order to enhance dialogue and cooperation on issues pertaining to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, as well as thematic contributions and expertise to the work of the Special Rapporteur on minority issues. One of the main objective of this forum in the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities.