The 2020 SAC Regional Network Meeting was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from the 4th to the 7th of March, 2020. Along with the SAC’s constituent members, the event brought together leading minority rights activists and experts from across South Asia, and provided an opportunity to engage in a detailed exploration of the issues plaguing the region’s minority groups. 

The event, organised jointly by Minority Rights Group Europe (Hungary/United Kingdom) and Law & Society Trust (Sri Lanka), was attended by representatives from Afghanistan Democracy and Development Organisation (Afghanistan), Alliance Defending Freedom (India), Bytes for All (Pakistan), Civil Society and Human Rights Network (Afghanistan), Council of Minorities (Bangladesh), Formation Awareness and Community Empowerment Society (Pakistan), INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre (Sri Lanka), International Dalit Solidarity Network (India), Misaal Foundation (India), Nagorik Uddyog (Bangladesh), Social Science Baha (Nepal), South Asian Forum for Freedom of Religion or Belief (Nepal), and Women Solidarity Front (Sri Lanka), in addition to several individual human rights defenders from across the region.

The South Asia State of Minorities Report 2019

A closed discussion was held around the 2019 edition of the SAC’s flagship annual research output, the South Asia State of Minorities Report. The 2019 Report, which examines in detail the scale and kinds of issues faced by the region’s migrants, refugees and the stateless, will be released to the public on the 29th of April, 2020. Click here to sign up to receive it in your inbox.

(L-R): Sakuntala Kadirgamar (Law & Society Trust, Sri Lanka), Deepak Thapa (Social Science Baha, Kathmandu), Sayed Hussain Anosh (Civil Society & Human Rights Network, Kabul), Deepika Udagama (Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka), Zakir Hossain (Nagorik Uddyog, Dhaka), Elaine Alam (FACES Pakistan, Lahore), Sajjad Hassan (Misaal Foundation, New Delhi)
The cover pages of the South Asia State of Minorities Report 2019: Migrants, Refugees and the Stateless

Led by Dr. Deepika Udagama, Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, the report authors highlighted the trend of rising majoritarian nationalism in the region as one that has left South Asia’s minority groups more vulnerable than perhaps ever before. The most visible example of this, India’s combination of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), was identified as being emblematic of a process that has been ongoing in different South Asian countries over the decades, marked by the delegitimisation of the claims over equal citizenship by various groups of people.

The shrinking civic space for minority rights defenders in South Asia

The rapidly shrinking civic space for minorities and minority rights defenders was flagged as a major concern with South Asia-wide resonance. Accordingly, the South Asia State of Minorities Report 2020 will focus on the same. Led by Ruki Fernando (INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre, Colombo), the participants mapped out key issues emanating from each country, before identifying specific research priorities for the 2020 Report, scheduled for release in October, 2020. 

Ruki Fernando (INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre, Colombo)
Participants from Nepal, India and Sri Lanka during an exercise to frame a common definition for the term ‘civic space’
Participants from Pakistan during an exercise to map key civic space-related issues in each country
Ritwajit Das (International Dalit Solidarity Network) reviewing the civic space situation in India
Saroj Nepal (SAC member in Thimphu) reviewing the civic space situation in Bhutan
Elaine Alam (Formation, Awareness & Community Empowerment Society, Pakistan) reviewing the civic space situation in Pakistan

More pictures

Deepak Thapa (Social Science Baha, Nepal)
Sakuntala Kadirgamar (Law & Society Trust, Colombo)
Zakir Hossain (Nagorik Uddyog, Dhaka)
Shikha Dilawri (Minority Rights Group)
Sajjad Hassan (Misaal Foundation, New Delhi)

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