HELP: SACW Digest, Vol 79, Issue 2
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Subject: SACW Digest, Vol 79, Issue 2
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Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2010 12:00:03 -0500
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From: aiindex at gmail.com
To: sacw at insaf.net
Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2010 11:44:45 +0530
Subject: SACW Special: A People's SAARC Assembly in Delhi (Press Release + New Delhi Declaration)
People's SAARC Conference held in New Delhi on 21-23 April 2010
26 April 2010, New Delhi
Some 300 people from across South Asia from social movements, civil
society organisations, labour unions, peasant organisations, women's
groups, ecologists and human rights activists gathered in New Delhi
from 20th April to 23rd April, 2010 as part of the process of a
'Peoples SAARC' to forge a vision for a union of South Asian peoples'.
Among the participants 120 people came from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri
Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan.
Among the prominent individual participants of the People's SAARC
Assembly in New Delhi were Mr Kuldip Nayar (veteran journalist from
India), Mr Iqbal Haidar (Former Law Minister and co chairperson of the
Human Rights commission of Pakistan), Mohamad Mahuruf (Janavakesha,
Sri Lanka), Mr Karamat Ali (cofounder of the Pakistan Peace Coalition
and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research), Kamla Bhasin
(Founder of SANGAT -South Asia Network of Gender Trainers), Samina
Khan (Sungi), Arjun Karki (coordinator, South Asian Alliance for
Poverty Eradication), Rezaul Karim (Equity Bangladesh), Jatin Desai
(Peace Mumbai), Mazhar Hussain (COVA), Farooq Tariq (Labour Party,
Pakistan), Vijay Pratap (SADED); Amongst the prominent participating
organisations were: GEFONT (Nepal), National Trade Union Initiative
(India), Migrant Forum South Asia, National Forum of Forest Workers
(India), All Ceylon United Workers Congress, INSEC, Focus on Global
South, Labour Party of Pakistan, National FishWorkers Forum (India),
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, AITUC, Muttahida Labour Federation
Pakistan, Bonded Labour Liberation Front (Pakistan), Shirkat Gah,
Sungi, PILER, Sindh Democratic Forum, South Asians For Human Rights,
Vani, Aman Trust (India), SADED (India), SAP -PK, All Ceylon United
Fisherpeople Trade Union, National Trade Union Federation (Pakistan).
This year's Peoples' SAARC is a culmination of a process of more than
a decade and a half. The first People's SAARC meeting had taken place
in New Delhi in July of 1995, as a parallel event to the 8th official
SAARC summit . And the last public assembly of the People's SAARC had
taken place in Colombo in 2008.
The latest People's SAARC assembly held in April 2010 in New Delhi
reaffirmed the South Asian Peoples commitment to creating a South Asia
free from all forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It
also called for the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against
militarism and jingoism; and demanded of the governments to reduce
defence spending and make available funds for socially useful spending
on public welfare and social security for all; for a regional people'
perspective on Climate change and on environmental degradation. It
called for the right to mobility with dignity across South Asia. It
calls for equal respect among all countries irrespective of size, and
power. A broad public declaration was adopted at the conference that
lists the thematic issues reflecting the concerns of social movements
across South Asia. (see below Text of The Delhi Declaration)
One important event of the conference was the South Asian
Parliamentarians Forum in which parliamentarians from India, Pakistan,
Nepal, participated. There was overwhelming consensus among them about
the need for a collective platform of Parliamentarians of the region
for strengthening the SAARC process and to work towards South Asian
Union. The Indian Parliamentarian Mani Shankar Iyer argued at length
about a shared history and a common heritage among South Asians and
the need to actively build regional cooperation.
The conference resolved to lobby the SAARC governments on a set of
* The SAARC governments should seriously engage with the issue of
Climate Change and apart from adhering to the existing international
commitments, should consider a common South Asian Policy on Climate
and environmental issues including a regional water sharing framework.
The developing countries in the SAARC region should fulfil their
responsibilities vis a vis the less developed countries and the most
vulnerable in the region via financial and technological means.
* The proposed SAARC University must become operational this year as
envisaged originally. Students and faculty of the SAARC university in
New Delhi must be granted a restriction free SAARC Visa by the Indian
* SAARC Governments should start sincerely and genuinely cooperating
according to the commitments made in the SAARC charter and its various
conventions and protocols. All governments in the region must put a
halt to all kinds of covert activities against each other. They
should also establish a joint mechanism to combat terrorism as per the
requirements of the SAARC regional convention of 1987 on suppression
* SAARC Development Fund and Food Bank should become operational
forthwith, in order to guarantee a right to food for all South Asians.
SAARC Agri perspective 2020 should be prepared in participatory way
with adequate involvement of civil society organisations.
* All South Asian governments should enter into a No-War Pact with a
commitment to resolve all disputes through peaceful and democratic
means only. Military expenditures should be reduced by 10% annually
and funds be diverted towards social spending.
* All governments without further delay should establish a universal
and portable Social security system as envisaged in the SAARC social
* All governments in the SAARC region must ensure freedom of movement,
the right to work and to conduct business for SAARC citizens.
* We take serious note of thousands of Bhutanese Citizens evicted from
their homeland by way of political victimisation and intolerance for
the voice of democratic dissent. This inhuman treatment and denial of
human rights along the Indo-Bhutanese border and in the camps of Nepal
violating all norms under international law has been perpetuated for
the last 18 years using force, including kidnapping, illegal arrest
and indefinite detention. We demand the right of return to their
homeland under conditions of dignity and honour and full citizenship
rights. We demand that the forth coming official SAARC put this issue
on the official agenda and persuade the Bhutanese Government to
immediately facilitate the return of the Bhutanese refugees to their
homeland. All SAARC states must create a legal and policy regime that
protects the rights of refugees.
At the conclusion of the conference the steering committee of the
People's SAARC met and took the following decisions.
1. A secretariat for the People's SAARC process will be established
2. Thirteen thematic working groups have been formed to develop South
Asians regional campaigns
3. A People's SAARC processes will be established in each country to
mobilise public opinion towards a union of South Asian people's.
4. A South Asians People's Regional Assembly will be constituted
within the next three months
Released to the media by:
Your browser may not support display of this image.
on behalf of the Steering Committee of the People's SAARC
by the Indian Organising committee consisting of
Aman Trust | AIPSO | AITUC | CEC | CDSA | COVA | Ekta Parishad | Focus
on the Global South | Global Gandhi Forum | Intercultural Resources |
ICYO | MFA | NACDOR | NAPM | NCDHR | NFFPFW | NFIW | NTUI | PWESCR |
SADED | SANGAT | SANSAD | SAPA | VANI | WNTA | South Asians For Human
For further information, please contact any of the following organisations::
Aman Trust, jamalkidwai at gmail.com, 91-11- 41 32 80 40 /41
Focus on the Global South, a.jafri at focusweb.org, 91-11- 46 15 03 53,
Intercultural Resources, ihpindia at gmail.com, 91-11- 26 56 01 33
New Trade Union Initiative, secretariat at ntui.org.in, 91-11- 26 48 69
31/26 21 45 38
23 April 2010
People's SAARC: New Delhi Declaration
We the members of social movements, civil society organizations,
labour unions, peasant movements, other working people's organizations
and women's groups have gathered here in Delhi from 20th April to 23rd
April, 2010 as part of the process of Peoples SAARC to forge a vision
for a People's Union of South Asia. This year's Peoples' SAARC is a
culmination of a process of more than a decade. It reaffirms the South
Asian Peoples commitment to creating a better South Asia free from all
forms of discrimination, exclusion and domination. It also calls for
the peoples of all SAARC countries to struggle against militarism and
jingoism, and for secularism. In our diverse societies of minorities
of all kinds, a secular society is crucial for national and societal
harmony, human rights and national unity. It calls for equal respect
among all countries irrespective of size, and power.
All our countries are sufferand tribals have suffered more including
violence against women. It is time that we develop new paradigms of
peaceful equitable, and sustainable paths of development that truly
reflect the economic potential of our countries and meet the need of
our peoples. SAARC countries must ensure the rights of all workers,
especially women, tribal and Dalit workers in accordance with
international standards including ILO conventions, international
covenants and national constitutions .Fisher peoples' rights to fish
in territorial waters be recognized and legally protected through
proper mechanisms. Innocent fisherfolk incarcerated for wandering into
neighbouring, sometimes disputed, territorial waters be immediately
released and the presence of deep sea trawlers and foreign vessels
should be banned as these are depleting fish stock and pursuing an
unsustainable path apart from severely diminishing the catch of the
Climate change and ecological degradation have become a species threat
and a threat to the very survival of all life on the planet.
Unfortunately the South Asian governments including those like India
which were part of the BASIC alliance failed to get an equitable
treaty signed at Copenhagen because of resolute resistance by the
North led by the USA. Even after the Copenhagen document was arrived
at no urgent steps have been taken towards reversing ecological
degradation, the reduction of green house gases, all necessitating
more sustainable forms of transport, construction, workers and
peasants conditions and mining among others. It is imperative for a
Peoples union of South Asia that vast areas of Bangladesh, parts of
India and island states in the Indian Ocean are not submerged because
of a lack of commitment particularly by the North.
In all our countries Human Rights has become a critical problem.
Generally international Human Rights and Humanitarian Law is not
implemented, even if already ratified. This leads to the flagrant
suppression of movements that challenge the state, only some of which
are violent. This is true of the entire sub continent.
People's movements to protect the forests, the rivers, and other
natural resources are often brutally repressed. Peoples land is
acquired for a relatively paltry sum in the name of development, and
their rehabilitation is well below international standards. This of
course is part of neo- liberalism. However the elites have become
exceedingly selfish, intolerant and oblivious of the suffering of the
A major positive response would be facilitated at the South Asia level
if people to people contact throughout the region was facilitated.
This would enable experts and activists to interact across countries
and regions to explore possibilities of a more just, peaceful,
sustainable and equitable path of development which is also gender
just. On the contrary, far from instituting a visa free South Asia our
governments are increasing restrictions on people to people dialogue
and some of these moves have been highly retrograde. This is not only
a great barrier too our goal of a Peoples Union of South Asia, but is
also a severe restriction on our efforts to move towards that goal.
We recognize the universality of opportunity, equal rights and dignity
of all people including excluded groups and minorities; including
ethnic, sexual and the differently abled. We recognize the prevalence
of patriarchy, masculinity, religious extremism and caste based
discrimination that deny human dignity, socio-economic and political
equality and justice to the millions of backward classes and deny
women sexual and reproductive health rights in the SAARC countries.
There is need for alternate regional trade and economic framework that
meet the needs and aspirations of small and medium producers and
labour. This will ensure the defeat of neo-liberal instruments such as
the WTO and free trade agreements in the region. We need to work out
fair trade relations within South Asia as a precondition for fair
trade relations with the rest of the world. This would also provide a
democratic alternative to neo-liberal free trade agreements. It would
also facilitate a fair wage for those in the import-export and
The SAARC countries must beware of imperialist machinations, designed
to overthrow pro-people regimes or to play countries off against
another to weaken SAARC unity. SAARC countries must radically cut down
expenditures on conventional arms, and move towards a South Asian
nuclear weapons free zone. This would save billions of dollars for the
social sector. These countries must avoid strategic alliances with the
US and allied powers. We urge that there be a no war pact between all
Inter-state relations must be based on respect and equality and all
unequal treaties should be annulled. Above all, states must respect
each other's sovereignty. Military intervention and espionage
operations on each others territories is the most glaring violation of
this sovereignty. Terrorism has been a serious problem in Pakistan,
India and recently in Sri Lanka. Where these movements involve
alienation or deprivation of natural resources, there must be
dialogue. Most terrorist movements are political. Military means
should not be the main method of countering them. Fundamentalist
movements who refuse dialogue should be countered. Militarism as a
State ideology is a threat to democracy and peaceful dissent.
There should be recognition of health, education, housing, employment
and adequate food as basic rights. More investment in the social
sector is essential for a more equitable and sustainable society. The
billions of dollars spent on defense not only foster aggressive
militarism but also take away scarce resources otherwise available for
the social sector and basic human rights. We uphold knowledge commons
rather than patents which exploit our market and people. New attempts
in WTO to bring generic drugs into TRIPS must be resisted so that
vital medicines for HIV, new strains of Tuberculosis, Hepatitis and
Malaria etc. do not become unaffordable. Unconditional cancellation of
loans from international financial institutions and bilateral debt
with the North, are a must for funds for socio-economic development.
Food banks should be set up of surplus food particularly food grains.
Remunerative prices must be given to farmers for their produce. The
poor must be provided food at subsidized prices. GM seeds should be
banned. Seeds, fertilizers and pesticides must be provided at
subsidized prices, along with diesel and electricity. Urgent steps
should be taken for the forest dwellers who should have a right to the
forest produce, and food and other subsidies in times of drought.
Forest dwellers should have a right to the forest, and the economic
exploitation of the forest. Through mining and the timber trade by
corporate and contractors should be immediately stopped.
The right to mobility with dignity is a human right. Migrants should
be assured of dignity and the right to work as well as physical
protection, basic amenities and adequate wages. Safegaurds for the
basic rights of the local people must be instituted. Victims of
trafficking, especially women and children must be protected.
Similarly the rights of individuals and communities subject to forced
displacement, disasters and forced eviction should be protected.
Peaceful and just resolution of all conflicts in the region through
political negotiations is imperative. This will include negotiations
with the people of disputed territories.
We call upon the SAARC governments to seriously address these concerns
and demands of the people of the region. Governments must be
accountable to the citizens of the countries in this region.
We laud the democratic struggles and the resistance to neo-liberalism
in the region. Our Peoples Union of South Asia is a rainbow coalition
of democratic forces. We pledge to continue to learn, inspire,
struggle and empower each other to realize this vision.
o o o
Read Also :
Statement Adopted by Trade Unions from South Asia, 21 April 2010
South Asia’s rivers must be seen as a sources for nourishing and
uniting peoples, not dividing them! (Statement Adopted at the Water
and Climate Change workshop on, 21 April 2010)
The amazing world in sharp snaps
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