WASHINGTON, DECEMBER 7:
A group of civil rights organisations including International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR) have submitted a policy memorandum to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the US Department of State requesting the Department recognize and elevate the important of fighting case-based discrimination across the world.
The rights organisations calling for the attention of the US Department of State include Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus Sadhana, Boston Study Group and Dalit Solidarity Forum and South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) besies the International Commission for Dalit Rights (ICDR).
“We strongly believe that recognizing and elevating caste based discrimination internationally represents a fundamental human rights issue and aligns with US foreign policy goals, especially as it champions democracy and inclusion in its upcoming Democracy Summit,”states the released issued on Thursday. “We provided multiple recommendations of various complexity to the US Department of State that would help progress the US’s leadership on this issue.”
The civil rights organisations have said they have recommended that the Department include caste-based discrimination within the human rights section of the White House Summit for Democracy on December 9 and 10, as well as within the commitments that relevant national governments are expected to bring to the Summit.
“We further recommended for action the Department take a renewed focus
on caste discrimination by increasing programming and research funding to the issue, reviewing and refining existent policies—including immigration policies—to account for caste discrimination, and engage with interagency partners and non-governmental organization partners to advance the issue,” the release states.
According to recent estimates in South Asia, over 300 million Dalits are impacted every day by caste-based atrocities, lynching, and discriminatory practices that were formally outlawed by national constitutions and international laws.
Congress has already recognized that caste-based discrimination exists and is unacceptable in India and other South Asian countries. In 2007, the 110th Congress (2007-2008) passed the historic House Concurrent Resolution (H.Con.Res.139), “expressing that ‘caste-based discrimination’ is unacceptable and the United States is committed to eliminating it and ensuring the human dignity and rights of Dalits by the U.S. government or U.S. organizations.”
The civil rights organisations also believe that the upcoming Democracy Summit would be a prime opportunity for the US to be a leader on caste-based discrimination issues, and that leadership on that issue now and in the future will be strategically advantageous for US foreign policy interests.