Greetings from the South Asia Collective! We are a network of human rights activists and organisations from across South Asia. We’ve been working since 2015 to document the condition of the region’s minorities, and to help develop capacity among grassroots-level organisations focused on minority rights and the freedom of religion or belief (FoRB).
We are pleased to announce the resumption of our Online Bulletins, where we provide an overview of significant minority-related news developments that have transpired in the region. The Bulletins are put together by research & documentation teams from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Previous editions of our Bulletins are available here.
As a prelude to more comprehensive coverage that will resume quarterly from June 2023, here is our compilation of major minority-related trends and developments in the region over 2022 and the first quarter of 2023.
During the period under review, several countries witnessed major democratic backsliding, led by Afghanistan under the Taliban regime – named by the V-Dem Institute as the worst autocratiser in the world over the past three years. India, under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was also noted as being one of the top 10 autocratisers over the past 10 years. Against this backdrop, South Asia’s minorities continued to face perilous conditions. Christians faced violent attacks in India and Pakistan, and restrictions on their faith in India. Minor Christian girls in Pakistan faced abductions, forced conversions and marriages to Muslim men. Dalits continued to face structural discrimination and violence across the region, particularly India and Nepal. In Pakistan, minor Dalit girls faced abduction and forced conversion for marriage. Hindus in general faced violent attacks from Muslim extremists in Pakistan and Bangladesh, with some incidents seen as reprisals for Hindu majoritarian assertion in India. Tamils in Sri Lanka (most of whom are Hindus, but also include significant numbers of Christians) continued to face repression and surveillance. Muslims faced increasingly violent conditions across India, where state authorities also pursued discriminatory laws, policies, and other actions against them, amid an alarming escalation in Islamophobic incitement by powerful political and religious figures. Muslims also faced hostile conditions in Sri Lanka. Muslim micro-minorities such as the Shia-Hazara community faced heightened violence in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, where they are now at the risk of genocide. Ahmadiyyas continued to face structural discrimination and violence in Pakistan and in Bangladesh. Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar faced discrimination in Bangladesh, and state violence in India to the point they are forced to flee. Across the region, gender and sexual minorities continued to face structural discrimination and criminalisation. Most significantly in terms of numbers, Afghanistan’s 14 million-plus women and girls are now close to near-total erasure from public life under the Islamist Taliban regime.
- In February 2023, we launched the 2022 edition of our flagship annual South Asia State of Minorities (SASM) Report, at a hybrid event attended by Fernand de Varennes (UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues) and moderated by Radhika Coomaraswamy (former UN Under-Secretary-General). The 2022 SASM Report focused on how South Asian states perform on their commitment to international human rights standards, and how they deliver, across civil and political, as well as social, economic, and cultural rights for their minorities. The report found that poor engagement with international human rights mechanisms is providing fertile ground for a wide range of rights violations against minorities and indigenous peoples. The report is available for free download here.
- Our 2023 SASM report will examine majoritarianism in South Asia, that lies at the root of the various challenges faced by the region’s minorities. Ahead of the report, SAC is also exploring other interventions focusing on justice and accountability on one hand, and promoting dialogue and diversity on the other, the details of which will be announced in the coming weeks. Organisations and individuals seeking to collaborate with us in this realm are requested to email us at email@example.com with suggestion and proposals.
The South Asia Collective team