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PERSBERICHT

11 augustus 2005


Nieuw rapport: Kastendiscriminatie oorzaak burgeroorlog in Nepal


Kastendiscriminatie is een belangrijke oorzaak van de burgeroorlog in Nepal, maar tegelijk zijn ‘kastelozen’ (Dalits) het slachtoffer van de maoïstische opstand. De maoïsten beweren kastelozen te bevrijden, maar ook in hun gelederen behoren zij tot het voetvolk en worden Dalit vrouwen seksueel misbruikt.
Het conflict in Nepal blijft onopgelost als kastendiscriminatie niet grondig wordt aangepakt.

Dat is de kern van het vandaag gepubliceerde 65 pagina’s tellende rapport ’The Missing Piece of the Puzzle: Caste Discrimination and the Conflict in Nepal’ van het Amerikaanse ‘Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice’ (CHRSJ).

Het rapport is gebaseerd op jarenlang onderzoek in bijna dertig districten in Nepal. Het wordt vandaag in Genève gepresenteerd door vertegenwoordigers van het CHRSJ, Nepalese Dalit organisaties en het International Dalit Solidarity Network in aanwezigheid van de twee VN rapporteurs. De VN Mensenrechtencommissie heeft deze rapporteurs in april aangesteld om onderzoek te doen naar kastendiscriminatie en richtlijnen op te stellen om deze te bestrijden.

Het Nederlandse Dalit Netwerk Nederland (DNN), bestaande uit Cordaid, CMC, ICCO, Justitia et Pax, Kerk in Actie en de Landelijke India Werkgroep, is aangesloten bij het International Dalit Soldarity Netwerk. Zij voeren de campagne ‘Stop Kastendiscriminatie – Steun de Dalits’.
Voor het uitgebreide Engelstalige persbericht zie bijlage hieronder.

Rapport ’The Missing Piece of the Puzzle: Caste Discrimination and the Conflict in Nepal’: www.indianet.nl/pdf/MissingPieceOfThePuzzle.pdf.

Voor meer informatie over Dalits, de campagne Stop Kastendiscriminatie en de lopende petitieactie, zie www.indianet.nl/Dalits.


Nadere informatie over het werk van DNN:
Gerard Oonk, Landelijke India Werkgroep tel. 030-2321340

Over de inhoud van het rapport kunt u meer informatie krijgen bij:
Ms. Smita Narula, + 1 917 209 6902 of Ms. Rikke Nöhrlind + 45 29 700 630





Bijlage

Caste Discrimination Root Cause of Conflict in Nepal
New report documents the impact of the civil war on Dalits

For more information contact: Smita Narula, + 1 917 209 6902 or Rikke Nöhrlind + 45 29 700 630

Full report, press release and photographs available at: www.nyuhr.org/nepalreport.htm.

Press briefing in Geneva: Thursday, August 11, 1:45 p.m. – 3 p.m., Rm. 25 (XXV) Palais des Nations

(Geneva, August 11, 2005): Caste discrimination is a root cause and an insidious consequence of the civil war in Nepal, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice charged in a new report released today. The conflict will remain unresolved without a sustained commitment to ending caste-based abuses.

The 65-page report, titled “The Missing Piece of the Puzzle: Caste Discrimination and the Conflict in Nepal,” exposes the as yet undocumented impact of the civil war on Nepal’s most vulnerable citizens: Dalits or so-called untouchables. The report was released in Geneva today during the two-week meeting of the U.N. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

Maoists insurgents have capitalized on caste and gender discrimination in Nepal by heavily recruiting Dalits and women for their “people’s militia.” Maoist indoctrination often includes a special emphasis on the oppression of the “lower castes,” and the Maoists’ alleged role in liberating them. The dismantling of the educational system also has fed large numbers of children into the militia.

Once recruited, Dalits are relegated to the lower ranks of the movement and are, in effect, taking the bullets for the Maoist insurgency. Coupled with reports that the practice of “untouchability” and sexual abuse against Dalit women persists even within the ranks of the Maoist movement, evidence shows that Dalits have begun to feel extremely alienated and underserved by the movement that purports to liberate them.

“The ‘People’s War’ has turned on the very people it purported to empower; Dalits have proven to be the favored victim of both State forces and Maoists,” said Smita Narula, Executive Director of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.

The militarization of the conflict has exacerbated caste dynamics and the resulting abuses against Dalits in Nepal. The overwhelming majority of senior officers in the RNA continue to hail from “upper-caste” communities. While individual Dalit men and women have actively joined Maoist forces, Dalit communities as a whole are collectively and summarily punished by state agents, even when there is no evidence of their involvement in the insurgency.

Caste-based profiling is also a common occurrence at security check posts and during village interrogation round-ups. The burgeoning presence of the police and army in the villages has led to even greater sexual abuse and exploitation of Dalit women. The State has also armed upper-caste village militias—or village defense committees—whose members abuse their power to settle personal scores and target Dalits and religious minorities.

“Rather than fulfilling its international human rights obligations to end caste-based discrimination, the Nepalese government has branded Dalits and the poor as ‘terrorists’ and has unleashed a wave of extrajudicial killings and forced ‘disappearances’ under the cover of fighting the global ‘war on terror,’” Narula stated.

Dalit civilians also face discrimination and egregious abuses at the hands of Maoists. Maoists openly murder and publicly torture those individuals they have deemed to be adversaries of their movement and have ravaged the civilian population throughout the countryside with tactics that include sexual assault and forced overnight stays in Dalit homes.

Through the ongoing efforts of international human rights NGOs, the United Nations, and the European Union, Nepal is increasingly under scrutiny for egregious human rights violations committed by state security forces and Maoist insurgents. “The international community is trying to treat the symptoms without diagnosing the disease,” Narula added. “A focus on caste discrimination is notably absent from international interventions in Nepal.”

On February 1, 2005 King Gyanendra declared a state of emergency in Nepal and vested all executive authority in the monarchy. Hundreds of journalists, students, and activists have since been detained. Though the state of emergency has been formally lifted, severe restrictions on the media and civil society remain in place, making it increasingly difficult to monitor human rights abuses in Nepal.

The Center for Human Rights and Global Justice called on the Nepalese government to restore civil liberties and fulfill its human rights obligations to end caste-based discrimination. The Center also called on the Maoist leadership to respect applicable international standards regarding protection of Dalit human rights.

The report is based on primary research conducted in nearly thirty districts in Nepal over a period of two-and-a-half years between July 2001 and May 2005. The research has been substantiated and corroborated by reputable human rights defenders and caste discrimination experts in Nepal.

The U.N. Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) have paid increasing attention to caste discrimination in recent years. CERD Member Morten Kj*rum and Sub-Commission Special Rapporteurs Chin Sung Chung and Yozo Yokota helped launch the report in cooperation with the International Dalit Solidarity Network (www.idsn.org) and Anti-Slavery International (www.antislavery.org).

The report, which includes recent photographs of the conflict and political upheaval in Nepal, can be accessed at: http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/MissingPieceOfThePuzzle.pdf.

Smita Narula
Executive Director & Adjunct Assistant Professor of Clinical Law
Center for Human Rights and Global Justice
New York University School of Law
245 Sullivan Street
New York, NY 10012
Tel: 212-992-8824
Fax: 212-995-4031
Email: smita.narula@nyu.edu



India Committee of the Netherlands / Landelijke India Werkgroep - 15 augustus 2005