Asian Parliamentarians Conference on Dalit Concern

Around 260 million Dalits globally face discrimination and exclusion in various forms throughout their life. Of which 210 million Dalit, about 80% of the total Dalit Population, resides in the South Asian region alone. It involves massive violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Due to exclusion practiced by both state and non-state actors, they have limited access to resources, services and development, keeping most Dalits in severe poverty. Despite policy development and new legislation in some countries, fundamental challenges still remain in all caste-affected countries of South Asia.
Against this backdrop strong movement by Dalit led organizations and many civil society organizations exists in this region to voice for the rights of Dalit. The common strategy to fight out caste and establish rights of the Dalit population recently involved parliamentarians of the countries of South Asia. In 2013 parliamentarians of different countries from the region came together in December in Nepal to make a regional framework to the issue of Dalit. This convention resulted into a common platform “South Asian Parliamentarian’s Forum for Social Justice’. Follow up of this convention, the parliamentarians met again in the 2nd conference focusing strategies on addressing Dalit rights in Asia in Nepal in November 2014. The parliamentarians discussed about the common underlying sufferings of the marginalized communities of this reason and its solution, the framework and functioning modality of the forum itself, strategies on addressing Dalit rights in South Asia and to discuss how the issues of social justice especially to the Dalit community can be ensured on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda. After two years of rigorous consultation among the parliamentarians, the forum organized them as ‘Asian Parliamentarians’ Forum on Dalit Concerns (APFDC)’ and has become more formal and active. This year APFDC decided to meet in the 3rd conference at Dhaka with the theme ‘Towards Justice, Development & Empowerment’. The conference discussed Affirmative Reservation measures for Dalit Empowerment, 2030 SDGs Action Agenda for Dalit Communities in South Asia and Future Direction and Action Agenda for the Parliamentarians. The conference was concluded with the Dhaka Declaration consisting of the function and future direction of APFDC.
The conference was held at Dhaka, Bangladesh on 19 November 2015, attended by 19 Parliamentarians from Bangladesh, India and Nepal. The parliamentarians were (Bangladesh)- Mr. Md. Ishrafil Alam (Co-Covenor, APFDC), Mr. Nurjahan Begum, Mr. Shamsul Alam Dudu, Ms. Lutfa Taher, Adv. Umme Kulsum Smrity, Adv. Hosne Ara Begum, Md. Nurul Islam Talukdar, Mr. Talukdar Md. Younus, Md. Golam Mostafa Biswas, (India)- Mr. B. L. Mungekar (Co-Convenor, APFDC), Mr. Ramdas Athawale, Mr. Ninong Ering, Mr. Naba Kumar Sarania, (Nepal)- Mr. Meen Bishwakarma (Convener, APFDC), Mr. Jeet Bahadur Darji, Mr. Dil Bahadur Nepali (Gautam), Ms. Anita Kumari, Ms. Kamala Bishwakarma, Ms. Sima Kumari Bishwakarma. There were delegates, academicians, policy makers and government officials; Dalits Human rights defenders, women leaders, human rights activists and CSO leaders.