South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

An Open Letter to Secretary General of SAARC

Published in The South Asia Citizens Web on Nov. 09 ::

H.E. Arjun Bahadur Thapa,
Secretary General of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)
SAARC Secretariat,
 Tridevi Marg, 
P.O. Box 4222,
[email protected]

9 November 2014

Your excellency,

I write to draw your attention to the recent filing of a police complaint against 10 young boys in the Kushinagar area located in the province of Uttar Pradesh in India on grounds of wearing the Tee shirts of the Pakistan Cricket Team. [see a news report in the Indian Media posted below] It is indeed astonishing that citizen’s of SAARC member states cannot take the risk of wearing clothing bearing insignia from national sports teams of another SAARC member state. In a similar incident in March 2014 some 60 odd students in a university in India were charged with sedition and faced expulsion from their university for cheering the Pakistan Team in cricket match broadcast on TV [ ]. After all the SAARC member states are signatories to a common charter and a whole set of regional agreements that are meant to promote regional cooperation and mutual understanding and incidents like these clearly run counter to these commitments. What is wrong in reading books, seeing films, watching and appreciating sports events, being able to access handicrafts or clothing from countries that are members of SAARC. Why should these banal things which are lived and accepted as normal in other parts of the world be considered inimical to National interests of SAARC states?

Usually people would write a letter like this directly to the authorities concerning the country of wrongdoing, but I choose to write to you most of all, since you hold the fort for SAARC.

This may seem an extra-ordinary request concerning events in a particular SAARC member state but I would like to ask you to kindly take up this matter formally with the Govt of India and also with all member states of SAARC to ensure that the act of purchase or possession of commonly available sports goods bearing national insignia of SAARC member states should not become grounds of filing police complaints in any SAARC country against citizens of SAARC member states. Sir, please dont hold your horses on this even if it means creating a precedent, if not for anything else, you owe it to the tax payers in South Asia’s member states that fund the SAARC secretariat. However symbolic an initiative from you regarding this matter it would render a signal service to citizens of SAARC member states.

Yours sincerely,

Harsh Kapoor [as concerned South Asian]

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