On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a democratic regional network of human rights defenders committed to the promotion and protection of human rights at both national and regional levels, we welcome the convening of the Summit of Heads of State of SAARC countries in Thimphu from 28th – 29th April 2010.

South Asians share a common history and culture of tolerance and pluralism. Our ideals represent the principles of peace, democracy, secularism and human security as the basis of our diverse nationhoods. But our region remains backward and one of the poorest because of our divisiveness and intolerance of differences.

The original purpose for which SAARC was formed –  i.e. peace, freedom, social justice and economic prosperity through poverty alleviation and promotion of democracy as a basis for citizen-state relationship – can be best achieved in the South Asian region by fostering mutual understanding, good neighbourly relations and meaningful cooperation among member states. 2010 marks 25 years of SAARC, and we believe that this is a good opportunity for all SAARC member countries to recall the goals and purposes for which SAARC was created in order to live in peace and amity.

With the commencement of the SAARC summit in Bhutan, SAHR would like to highlight and bring to the attention of the Heads of States of the member countries several grave situations in the region:

In light of the above issues we call upon the SAARC governments to seriously address these concerns of the region. SAHR believes that the SAARC forum can and should ensure that the progress and process of democracy in the South Asian region is not hijacked by short- sighted political or economic interests and urges all member states to guarantee social justice by ensuring the promotion and protection of people’s fundamental rights.

On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights,

Dr. Hameeda Hossain

Co – Chairperson