Saturday, February 23, 2013

Shahanur Islam attentds the Symposium on Grass Root Protection of Minority Rights in South Asia

Mumbai, November 08, 2011
Human rights activists from south Asian nations have join hands for the protection of the minority rights in South Asia. A joint manifesto on minority rights in south asia was developed by the participants to identify common issues and priorities on thematic human rights violations in need of attention and action. This manifesto was
prepared during the three day symposium grassroots protection for minority rights, held by Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD), a global NGO from Netherlands, in cooperation with Rambhau Mahalgi Prabodhini (RMP) in India

The symposium was organised on November 5-7, 2011. The manifesto will be officially presented at GHRD’s December conference protecting minority rights in South Asia at the European Parliament at Brussels. The manifesto was developed through joint thematic discussions in, poverty, caste and dalit issues, trafficking in humans and minorities in Bangladesh, which are thoroughly discussed.

Twenty five human rights activists from India, Nepal, and Bangladesh active in the fields of human trafficking, dalits, and religious and indigenous rights, came together in coordination with GHRD to exchange experiences and discuss future joint actions. The manifesto of the symposium on grassroots protection for minority rights in South Aisa; is prepared by the activists. The symposium consisted detailed brain storming sessions on various issues pertaining to the need for awareness rising within remote, grassroots dalit communities in Bangladesh, India and Nepal on their rights and the government initiatives available to them. The need for ratification of the united nations protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons (also known as the palermo protocol) by the government of Nepal (source country for trafficking) and the gulf countries (destination countries for trafficked persons) and for better government initiatives to prevent, protect and prosecute trafficking cases was discussed. 

Advocate Shahanur Islam, Founding Secretary General of JusticeMakers Bangladesh attends the symposium and expressed his concerns about the stature of the human rights commission in Bangladesh. It was also expressed that the government of Bangladesh should live up to their commitment to implement the Chittagong hill tracts peace accord and the need for investigation, documentation and reporting. There is a need to strengthen the national human rights commission of Bangladesh to investigate cases against police authorities and the need for impartiality within this institution, added Mr. Islam. 

Representing his newly established organization, JusticeMakers Bangladesh, Advocate Shahanur Islam discussed the organization’s target groups: ethnic, religious, social and sexual minorities, and victims of torture and extra‐judicial killings.

Mr Islam mentioned key future goals to be: building a strong network for minorities in Bangladesh and building up the networking capacity of the organization and the minority communities. He also discussed work he had begun in collaboration with GHRD with a new minority target group: sexual minorities in Bangladesh and the nature of discrimination against this group, often in the form of societal stigmatization but also in the form of sexual violations, violence and torture. Mr Islam also highlighted the need for advocacy on legal reform, to remove the criminalization of homosexual acts in the Bangladeshi Penal Code.

Questions and dialogue from other participants centred on the right to information, particularly in remote areas, and questions around how JusticeMakers Bangladesh are working with sexual minorities currently and the goals for future operations in this area. Mr Islam responded that he has begun interviewing sexual minority individuals and organizations in order to discover the rights and violations involved and how LGBT rights are viewed in Bangladesh. 

Jenny Lundstrom, human rights officer of the GHRD, told that the manifesto can be viewed as a summary of the main human rights challenges and priorities according to the undersigned south Asian local minority rights organizations, and we hope that it will be useful to guide European institutions in fulfilling its mission promoting human rights and democracy in the south asia. We are going address these problems in the European institution and governance and united nation. So they will ask respective countries to address the problems, added Jenny.

Advocate Shahanur Islam from JusticeMakers Bangladesh, Baitali Ganguly from Jabala Action Research Organisation, Janeit Gurung from Maiti Nepal, Bikash Kumar Das from Parittran, Bangladesh along with Ravindra Sathe from RMP expressed their views on the manifesto in the concluding session of the symposium.