The South Asia Collective Online Bulletin #3

Greetings from the South Asia Collective (SAC). 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.

This is the third edition of our Online Bulletin, covering events that have transpired in the region since April 15. Events till April were covered in the second edition of our Bulletin, available here
In the previous edition, released as the COVID-19 pandemic was picking up pace in the region, we looked at how preventive measures imposed by South Asian countries brought economic life to a standstill and triggered a humanitarian crisis. In this edition, we retain our focus on how the region’s poor and marginalised sections, particularly minority groups, have disproportionately borne the brunt of this crisis. With more reportage emerging, we also look at how, in many countries, some of the worst fears about the health implications of the pandemic are now coming true. 

We also provide an overview of other, significant minority-related news developments in the region, especially those with region-wide implications. 

Simultaneously, the SAC has begun supporting local-level initiatives across the region that seek to help address some of the issues that minorities are facing in the context of COVID-19. In this edition, we provide a brief overview of these SAC-supported projects, most of which have already commenced work on the ground.
The SAC Online Bulletin is put together by researchers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, 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 Minorities | COVID-19 Support Grants

During the period under review, South Asia’s various minority groups continued to face violent targeting and discrimination from non-state actors and, in some cases, from state actors. Across all countries in the region, these acts have been followed by state failures to hold perpetrators to account and uphold the rule of law. 

In Afghanistan, the beleaguered Shia Hazara community faced a deadly attack on a maternity ward that claimed 24 lives, including new-born babies. The Sikh community too faced repeated targeting. In Bangladesh, the Hindu, Ahmadiyya and indigenous peoples communities faced various forms of targeting. Local leaders of mainstream political outfits were implicated in some of the attacks, including on women. In India, authorities continued the targeting of critics of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in an effort to silence dissent, while the country’s Muslims, Christians, Dalits and Sikhs faced continued violence and discrimination. The Indian government also continued to deny rights and freedoms in Muslim-majority Kashmir. In Nepal, a series of attacks on Dalits led to widespread protests. In Pakistan, the Ahmadiyya, Christian and Hindu communities came under attack, by both non-state and state actors. The levelling of frivolous blasphemy allegations also continued. And in Sri Lanka, two prominent Muslim voices faced arbitrary detentions. Click here for these and other stories that have impacted or have the potential to impact South Asia’s minorities.

In this section, our researchers in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka continue their exploration of how COVID-19 and resultant government-enforced lockdowns have disproportionately impacted minorities. We continue looking at how, in some countries, COVID has provided majoritarian forces a convenient cover to further target minorities. We also look at how the region’s religious and ethnic minorities, and so-called lower castes, have faced discrimination in access to government and non-government relief measures. Click here for more.

Latest Developments in South Asia | Impact of COVID-19 on South Asia's Minorities | COVID-19 Support Grants

The South Asia Collective would like to thank the following for reviewing this edition of the Bulletin: Afghanistan: Khodadad Bisharat (Founder, Development Alternative Experts, and Policy Advisor to the Ministry of Education, Government of Afghanistan); Bangladesh: Khalid Hussain (Founder & Chief Executive, Council of Minorities); India: Tehmina Arora (Alliance Defending Freedom), Meena Varma and Ritwajit Das (International Dalit Solidarity Network); Nepal: Khem Shreesh (Social Science Baha); Pakistan: Naumana Suleman (Minority Rights Group International); Sri Lanka: Ruki Fernando (INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre)

The contents of this Online Bulletin are the sole responsibility of The South Asia Collective and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or Norad.
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