KATHMANDU, APRIL 16: At the UN side-event ‘The Impact of Online Caste-Hate Speech’, Dalit and digital rights activists and the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues have raised concern over increasing caste-hate speech on online platforms leading to dehumanization, violence and atrocities.
On 22 March 2021, International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN) International Associates the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), Minority Rights Group (MRG), FORUM-ASIA and Human Rights Watch (HRW), organised the side-event during the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council.
The event discussed the various forms in which online caste-hate speech manifests, the gravity of such manifestations and the concrete means to combat it and feature a presentation of the ground-breaking new report on caste-hate speech commissioned by IDSN.
According to the report, caste discrimination remains one of the world’s most serious human rights issues and it is intrinsically linked with hate speech, but as this report has demonstrated, insufficient attention has been paid to the caste-based aspects of hate speech.
“All too often, caste-hate speech is allowed to continue unchecked, not least on social media platforms. Campaigners against caste discrimination rightly argue that unless caste is specifically mentioned in the human rights discourse instead of being “hidden” under other headlines, there is a huge risk that the issue will be ignored,” the report states. “This warning also applies to caste-hate speech. Consequently, it is essential that caste-hate speech is recognised as a protected characteristic in international covenants – and as a distinctive form of hate speech – and that Dalits are included in actions to mitigate caste-hate speech online and offline, at every level.”
The report has also stressed that anything less will enable abusers to continue practising this form of hate speech – and condemn Dalits and other groups to even more abuse and violence.
The keynote speaker at the event was Fernand de Varennes, UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, and the panelists were Murali Shanmugavelan, Researcher and author of IDSN’s caste-hate speech report, Beena Pallical (National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, India), Elaine Alam (Faces Pakistan), Riya Singh (Dalit Women Fight Collective, India), Anju Kandel (Jagaran Media Centre, Nepal) and Tamanna Singh Baraik (Bangladesh Dalit and Excluded Minorities, Bangladesh). The event was moderated by Meena Varma, Executive Director of IDSN.
To watch the full video stream of the HRC46 side-event on Caste-Hate Speech please click here.