South Asian Dalit lawmakers form regional forum

KATHMANDU, DEC 09 – Dalit parliamentarians from the region formed a South Asian Parliamentary Forum (SAPF) on Sunday with an aim to end all forms of caste-based discrimination and enable inclusion at all levels of governance in the region.

At a programme organised in Kathmandu, parliamentarians from Bangladesh, India and Nepal jointly issued a declaration, asking South Asian governments to recognise the rights of Dalits and correct historical wrongs through reparations including reservations in parliament and employment opportunities.
Binod Pahadi, a former Constituent Assembly member, called the formation of the SAPF an encouragement for those already involved in Dalit movement. 
“The Forum will not only bring Dalit parliamentarians from across the region together in solidarity, but will also pressure each other’s governments to listen to Dalit issues,” said Pahadi.
Dal Bahadur Sunar, a recently elected Constituent Assembly member, also had similar expectations from the SAPF. “So far only civil society members have been active in raising Dalit issues. 
With the formation of the Forum, parliamentarians are taking the issues beyond borders, internationalising them while putting pressure on national governments to take action against caste-based discrimination,” said Sunar.
With the representation of Dalits in the new Assembly expected to fall from 50 in the last to around 35 this time, Sunar said an international network like the Forum will help safeguard the rights of Dalits in Nepal.

Posted on: 2013-12-09 08:36

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