News

International Conference on Human Rights concerns Indian Diaspora

Conference Poster:

Organizing Committee ( Team)

  • Mr. M.N. Krishnamani (Sr. Advocate, President Delhi Tamil Sangam)
  • Dr. Inder Mohan Kapahi ( Educationist)
  • Mr. Gopal Agarwal ( Economist)
  • Mr. Rajesh Gogna ( Human Rights Lawyer)
  • Mr. Mukesh Agarwal ( Social Activists)
  • Mr. Naresh Shandilya ( Poet)
  • Dr. Parmod Shastri ( Educationist)
  • Mr. Gauri Shankar Gupta ( Educationist and Social Worker)
  • Ms. Jyotika Kalra ( Advocate and Women Rights Activists)
  • Mr. Chander Shekhar Randev ( Child Rights Activists)
  • Mr. Venugopal (Human Rights Activists)
  • Dr. Amarjeev Lochan ( Educationist)
  • Mr. Bhaskar Y. Kulkarni (Advocate and Human Rights Activists)
  • Mr. Anil Joshi ( Language Rights activists)
  • Mr. Vaibhav Anand ( Human Rights Activists)

 

REPORT

Two-day conference discusses human rights concerns of Indian migrants

 


New Delhi, March 7: The Second International Conference on Human Rights Concerns of Indian Diaspora was inaugurated by the founder of Art of Living, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in Hindi Bhawan, New Delhi. Speaking on the occasion, Ravi Shankar said that there have been many instances of violations of human rights of Indian Diasporic community members in different parts of the world. He cited an instance of how temples in Malaysia have been destroyed.

He said that there is a need to generate awareness about human rights values amongst the Indian Diaspora. He stressed that their grievances should be given proper attention, but was concerned that there is not a proper platform where they can vent their pent-up anger. He also added that there is a need for an organisation which serves as a security system or acts as a support mechanism.

Spiritual guru Ravi Shankar was glad to say that Indians have come forward while speaking on the issue of human rights. He also stressed that it is the duty of both the citizens and administration to honour the rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Speaking on how the Supreme Court slammed the police action against yoga guru Baba Ramdev in the early hours of June 5 last year in Ramlila Maidan, Ravi Shankar said the Delhi Police were only following the orders of the political masters, and called for “more work” to be done so such crackdowns are not repeated.

“The court has come heavily on the government. It is not just the police, but the people behind the police who have to be taken care of,” he said at the event. “Police were only doing their duty and it was somebody else, who gave the instructions. So the buck does not stop there, as it was not the police alone who did this violence. It was a bad day for Indian democracy,” he said. “More work needs to be done so that such incidents are not repeated,” he added.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said that along with human rights, it is paramount to cultivate human values. He also applauded the job done by Human Rights Defense (India). “It is a great act of humanity. Their work will get my support and cooperation,” said the ambassador of peace.

Gouri Shankar Gupta, an educationist and social reformer and Additional Solicitor General of India Amarjit Singh Chandhiok also spoke during the inauguration.

Prominent human rights activists Dr. Richard Benkin, P Waytha Moorthy, Ram Singh Sodho and a Swami from Dera Dhuni Baba camp were honoured by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for their works in defending human rights of Indians abroad.

Dr. Benkin is an independent human rights activist who has worked towards the correction of injustices worldwide. He has been presented a ‘Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition’ for his “commitment and dedication to preserving human rights in the case of Shoaib Choudhury (a Bangladeshi journalist)” by US Congressman Mark Kirk. Waytha Moorthy is a Malaysian lawyer of Tamil origin who has fought for the human rights concerns of Malaysian Tamils. Ram Singh is a well-known politician from Pakistan’s southern Sindh province who resigned in 2011 and has since moved to India. Dera Dhuni Baba society facilitated shelter for Hindu refugees from Pakistan and worked towards their amelioration.

Speaking on the occasion, ASG Chandhiok applauded the efforts of HRDI on being a proper platform paying attention to the human rights concerns of Indian Diaspora. He also put stress on the fact that it is important for the central and state governments to discuss the legal aspects and lay out plans to resolve the human rights violations of Indians across the world. Chandhiok said that human rights are the most basic fundamental rights without which human beings cannot live. He said that there is a need for one Constitution in the world which works for the dignity of human lives.

Dr. Benkin said that the lives of around one and a half million Hindus are in danger in Bangladesh. He also said that the ruling Awami League, which claims to be a pro-minority government, has not been able to protect the rights of Hindus in the country.

During the inauguration of the conference, M N Krisknamani, President, HRDI, said that human rights violations of Indian community members in a cause of grave concern. He also added that proper attention have not been given to the cases of human rights violations of Indians in countries like Malaysia and Sri Lanka on international forums.

Highlighting the work done by HRDI for thousands of migrant families from Pakistan, organization’s General Secretary Rajesh Gogna said that it has presented protest-petitions and intervention papers to the government of India with regard to human rights issues.

Datuk A Vithilingam, president of Malaysia Hindu Sangam Association, GOPIO Internationl’s Chairman Mahendra Utchanah from Mauritius, Karim Assaad from UK, Bimal Kedia (Member of Parliament, Nepal), Prasanna Chaturvedi were also present during the inauguration of the event.

Assaad cited the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka. He said that although the members of Tamil community are living a tough life, the government is not paying any heed to their problems. “We need to stop and think over an approach to stop the bloodshed in Sri Lanka,” Assaad said.

Prasanna Chaturvedi spoke about the history of ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh. He said that most of the human rights violations occur because of the absence of cultural synergy. “Loss or lack of identity and cultural differences also lead to differences in treatment,” Chaturvedi added. He said that there is a need to form human rights information and adaption booths. “Well-known NRIs should be made brand ambassadors for generating awareness on human rights concerns of Indian Diaspora,” he said.

Ram Singh Sodho said that he is against those “who are against humanity”. Citing the examples of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer and former federal minister for minorities in Pakistan Shahbaz Bhatti, he said that even the lives of Muslims who worked for the human rights concerns of Hindus in Pakistan were not safe.

Waytha Moorthy spoke about the ordeals faced by Indians in Malaysia. “Shortly after HINDRAF protested for the rights of Hindus in Malaysia in 2007, I came to India with some expectations. Unfortunately, India didn’t take up the issue seriously,” Waytha Moorthy said. He said that post-independence, Indians, who majorly worked in the rubber plantation industry, were contributing approximately 70% to Malaysia’s wealth. “But during 1980s, when rubber prices came down, the government systematically started displacing the Indians from the plantation industry,” he said. It was during this period when “many temples, shrines and schools where Indians learnt and preserved their culture” were demolished.

The second and final day of the conference saw some brainstorming sessions on the issues of human rights violations of Indians in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh among others.

In a session on Sri Lanka, speakers which included Karim Assaad, M N Krisknamani, President, HRDI, expressed their concern on the state of the suffering Tamil population in Sri Lanka. Assaad spoke on how the democratic rights of the Tamils in Sri Lanka have been neglected. A draft resolution was passed that urgent steps should be taken to compel the Sri Lankan government to stop ethic and linguistic discrimination against the Tamil in Sri Lanka. It was also agreed upon by the organization that the Union government of India should be asked to initiate talks with Sri Lankan government at diplomatic levels so that the human rights violation and injustice on the Tamils in Sri Lanka are averted. The draft resolution also added that a request should be made to the United Nations to actively interfere to remove the human rights violations meted out to Tamils by sending an independent team to ascertain the ground realities.

In a session on Malaysia which was moderated by Chairman of the organising committee Gopal Agarwal, well known scholar Datuk A Vaithilingam said that thousands of Indian workers have been made to live in the worst of conditions as indentured ones in Malaysia. He added that most people of Indian origin live in economic neglect. A major cause of concern, Vaithilingam said was the growing fundamentalism of the nation’s government. Vaithilingam said that India must look into the plight of PIOs.

Waytha Moorthy said that Malaysian government should think of Malaysia-born Indians who have been living a life in stateless misery for past many years. He further said that the Malaysian government has blatantly denied basic human rights to millions of minority Malaysians.

Chitra, a research scholar  working on the conditions of Tamils in Gulf countries, while speaking on the human rights concerns of Indians in Gulf countries highlighted the push (poverty, competition in local markets etc.) and pull (higher income, oil) factors which attract the Indians to move towards these countries. She said that loss of identity while landing in a Gulf country, wage discrimination and religious biasness are amongst the major human rights violations faced by Indians in the Gulf nations. She also focused on the how the nexus of recruiting agencies and employees lure the workers in an inappropriate manner towards these oil-rich nations.

In the session to deliberate over the human rights issues in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the plight of Hindus was discussed in an intense manner.  Issues regarding the conditions of persons of Indian origin in these countries were strongly raised. Sodho, a well-known politician from Pakistan’s southern Sindh province who resigned in 2011 and has since moved to India, focused on the ordeals faced by Hindus living in Pakistan. He said that the major problems faced by forty percent of Hindu in Pakistan are that of forcible religious conversions and strict visa regulations. “Although each and every Hindu residing in Pakistan wants to move over to India, the strict visa rules make them stop from taking the move,” said Sodho.  He also said that Pakistani Hindus are denied even to die with dignity, as they are barred from cremating the dead bodies.

Senior journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik, sharing anecdotes on his visits to Pakistan and Afghanistan, said that the minorities are living their lives in misery in these countries. He said that the Indian government should take serious note of the facts. M N Krisknamani, President, HRDI, moved a draft resolution stating the formation of a committee of five members from HRDI, who will look into the plight of Hindus in India who have migrated from Pakistan and Afghanistan. The resolution also proposed the formation of a committee with Sodho as its member to find out the problems of Hindus presently residing in Pakistan.

The two-day conference ended with serious discussions on human rights concerns of Indians in United States, Australia, and Germany among others. General Secretary, HRDI, Rajesh Gogna, said that more discussions of the issue of human rights violations would be carried on in the similar manner. He also announced that next year’s conference would be held from January 5-6. Gauri Shankar Gupta, an educationist and social reformer, creative head of HRDI, Naresh Shandilya and Anil Joshi, President, Aksharam were also present during the sessions.

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