The South Asia Collective Online Bulletin #2

Greetings from the South Asia Collective. We are a group of human rights activists and organisations from across South Asia, working since 2015 to document the condition of the region’s minorities. We bring here to you the second edition of our Online Bulletin, covering events that have transpired in the region since January 2020.

As the COVID-19 pandemic extends its stranglehold worldwide South Asian nations have scrambled to prevent a large-scale outbreak with potentially catastrophic consequences in a region that has historically under-invested in healthcare. Accordingly, stringent preventive measures have been rolled out everywhere, bringing economic life to a standstill and triggering a humanitarian crisis the true extent of which is yet to be fully fathomed. As always, the region’s poor and the marginalised have borne the brunt. In this bulletin, we explore this phenomenon in detail, while retaining but not limiting ourselves to a minority rights lens.

We also provide an overview of other significant minority-related news developments in the region – including in-depth looks at some of the major developments, especially those with region-wide implications.

The SAC Online Bulletin is put together by researchers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It aims to be an informative update on the situation of minorities and minority rights in South Asia. Click here to sign up to receive future editions of the bulletin.


Latest Developments in South Asia | Impact of COVID-19 on South Asia's Marginalised | Other Major Stories


South Asia continues to be a region hostile to its minorities, especially religious minorities. The first few months of 2020 continue a trend of the past, of violent targeting and discrimination against the region’s minorities. State failures to protect vulnerable minority groups; bring perpetrators of attacks – state or non-state - to account; and ensure rule of law, account for much of the poor outcomes. The onset of COVID-19 has heightened the vulnerability of South Asia’s minorities. This is putting them under further stress. Below is a summary of the latest developments in each country since January 2020.

The minuscule Sikh community in Afghanistan faced two, deadly, back-to-back attacks, resulting in 25 deaths and a complete breakdown of the little trust of the country’s minorities. An earlier attack against the ethnic Shia Hazaras - resulting in 32 deaths and 82 injuries – had already shaken confidence. In Bangladesh on the other hand – and in a welcome break from the past – reports claim authorities protected Hindu minorities from the violent spillovers of anti-Muslim violence playing out in neighbouring India over much of the past months. India itself, reeling from the aftermath of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act 2019, saw Hindu nationalist mobs, with tacit support of authorities, target Muslim pockets in national capital Delhi, in what is being called the biggest pogrom since Gujarat (2002). Nepal has reported several cases of targeting of Christians and Muslims in the context of COVID-19 disruptions. In Pakistan, the situation remained worrisome, with several reports of violence and discrimination against religious minorities. And Sri Lanka formally withdrew from the UN resolution on post-war accountability and reconciliation, marking a break from any commitment towards addressing human rights violations suffered by the Tamil community. This is even as Muslims continued to be targeted in an increasingly securitised climate sweeping the country. For these and other stories that have impacted or have the potential to impact the region’s minorities, click here.

Our researchers in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka take an in-depth look at how COVID-19 and resultant government-enforced lockdowns have impacted the lives of the poor and marginalised. We also examine how, in some countries, COVID-19 is providing a convenient cover for increased religious polarisation and targeting of vulnerable minorities. Read more here.

In this section, our team in Afghanistan profiles the country’s beleaguered Sikh community, against the backdrop of the deadly bombings in late March that killed at least 25 people. Our team in India reports on targeted violence against Muslims in Uttar Pradesh and in Delhi. We also have a quick update here from Indian-administered Kashmir, where the remnants of a government-enforced communications blockade are hampering the medical community’s attempts to contain COVID-19. Read more here.

Latest Developments in South Asia | Impact of COVID-19 on South Asia's Marginalised | Other Major Stories

Subscribe to our mailing list |