South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

We, members of civil society from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, have gathered in Kathmandu, Nepal on 7 and 8 July 2017 at the Round Table Discussion on Peace, Security, and Protection of Human Rights at Borders in South Asia convened by South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), to discuss the diverse conflicts and their related issues in and around the borders within South Asia, and between South Asia and Myanmar, including labour migration and human trafficking; contraband trade; territorial integrity; armed militancy; marine resources; refugees and stateless persons; riparian resources and energy; women’s livelihoods and women’s bodies; nationalisms and populisms, etc.

We underline our utmost commitment and desire to live in a tolerant, democratic, equal, peaceful, inclusive and just South Asia, free from all forms of violence and marginalisation.

We recognise and value the strengths and advantages of the rich regional cultural diversity and multiplicity of identities in South Asia; while being of one voice in our collective opposition to all structures of oppression, discrimination and suffering experienced by our peoples.

We endorse democratic, inclusive and participatory political processes towards the mitigation and resolution of border conflicts; while taking into consideration the very real inequalities between the different states in the region; and inequalities of various forms including gender, class, ethnicity, caste, religious identity and so on, within states.

We support South Asian people’s movements for democracy and peace, and against authoritarianism from any quarter that are ongoing in the countries in the region. We salute the countless people who are constantly engaged in such struggles for justice with unwavering determination, despite the manifold risks to their personal security and the safety of their loved ones.

We are deeply concerned by the recent trend of political manipulation of religious belief and sentiment by political parties and non-state actors, creating a climate of insecurity and fear among the people, especially religious minorities; despite constitutional guarantees of equality irrespective of caste, class, ethnicity, religion or gender.

We reiterate that all states in South Asia have international and domestic human rights obligations towards their citizens and other persons; and that the due process of the law should be followed in all instances of conflict in and around the borderlands of South Asian states; with no exceptions on grounds of national security, counter-terrorism, nor for stateless persons, undocumented migrants, and the like.

We emphasise that while the State has the primary responsibility to promote and protect human security and human rights within its borders, that this undertaking is not possible without the active and informed participation of the people.

We affirm and reiterate our commitment to advocate for the protection of the rights of the people in our region, and to find durable and equitable solutions to conflicts in and around the borders between South Asian states, and between South Asia and its neighbours.

We urge the governments of the South Asian states:

We call upon the governments of South Asia to urgently heed our concerns and address them in a timely and effective manner, while actively engaging with citizens towards transparent and accountable government, and enforcing constitutional protections and freedoms of all peoples, towards a just and peaceful South Asia.

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) convened a Round Table Discussion on ‘Peace, Security, and Protection of Human Rights at Borders in South Asia’ on 7 and 8 July 2017 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Civil society representatives from South Asia entailing researchers, activists and former government officials participated in this systematic discussion at the regional level on border related issues to identify priority areas for further collaborative action and to discuss methods for the promotion of meaningful contribution of women in the mainstream security discourse; and recommend region-wide strategies to respond to border related issues. The Round Table was also a follow up to the regional level research carried out by SAHR on the impact of human rights violations of the people living in the borders on their lives and livelihood. (The publication can be accessed here.)