SANSAD News-release, July 10, 2015
At the SANSAD Annual General Meeting held in Vancouver on June 21 the following ten resolutions on Bangladesh, Canada, India, and Sri Lanka were adopted.
1. On disaster management:
Whereas almost 9000 people have died and tens of thousands are injured in the earthquakes of April 25 and May 13, 2015 in Nepal;
Whereas tens of thousands of people are left displaced and millions more directly or in- directly affected;
Whereas 126,000 pregnant women and 1.7 million children are in urgent need of help according to UN estimates;
Whereas tens of thousands of villages and communities are yet to receive the prelimi- nary aid and support;
Whereas the Nepali government’s responses to recovery, reconstruction, and reaching out to earthquake-affected people have been slow and bureaucratically hindered;
Whereas the Nepali government has not yet taken the sufficient initiatives for coordinat- ed, efficient, and transparent relief efforts,
Whereas the UN appeal to the international community to raise USD 423 million over the next three months to meet essential needs of earthquake survivors has produced only 28% in pledges so far,
We urge Nepali government to bear more responsibility and take thoughtful, coordinat- ed, and transparent steps in addressing the basic needs of the earthquake victims and planning fo long-term recovery and reconstruction;
And we further urge the UN and the international community to meet the USD 423 mil- lion deemed necessary to meet the essential needs of earthquakes survivors in Nepal.
2. On writing the constitution
Whereas the Nepal constituent assembly has struggled for seven years to write a constitution for institutionalizing the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal,
Whereas the earthquakes have severely challenged the state, the already ineffective government and the indecisive assembly in Nepal and made the need for a constitution more urgent than ever,
Whereas in the face of this need four major political parties have come to a 16-point agreement on drafting a Federal Democratic Republican constitution,
Whereas several other parties and representatives of Nepal’s many ethnic identities have expressed strong reservations regarding the perceived exclusionary and centraliz- ing structure of the proposed constitution,
Therefore be it resolved that we join the many Nepali people who applaud the move as a milestone in the long process toward the establishment of a constitution that will pro- vide the foundation for an effective state in the service of the people’s need, and
Be it further resolved that we urge all political parties in Nepal to join in drafting a consti- tution that maximizes democratic participation to include and empower the hitherto mar- ginalized and disempowered identities in Nepal’s multi-ethnic society.
3. On religious minorities
Whereas religious freedom is one of the inalienable rights of all Indians as citizens un- der the Constitution of India,
Whereas various religions have contributed over several thousand years to creating in India a vastly complex society with a rich and multidimensional culture,
Whereas the “Ghar Wapsi” (home coming) movement carried out in 1914 by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the RSS and sanctioned by the BJP government at the cen- tre has led to the forcible re-conversion of Muslims and Christians in Telangana, Kerala, Goa, and UP,
Whereas the Home Minister of India, Rajnatth Singh has indicated the government’s in- tention to create an anti-conversion law as an answer to protests against “ghar wapsi”, thus prohibiting future conversions and removing the freedom of religious choice,
Whereas Christian churches have been attacked and a nun gang-raped,
Whereas Muslims have been persecuted with a campaign against “Love Jihad”, accus- ing Muslim men of marrying Hindu women as a part of scheme of religious domination,
Whereas the outright ban on beef consumption, the Prime Minister’s hosting of public dinners during Easter, and the Ministry of Education’s establishment of “Good Governance Day” on Christmas Day indicate a contempt for the sentiments and rights of Muslims and Christians,
Therefore be it resolved that SANSD condemns these acts and policies directed against religious minorities in India and affirms its solidarity with all minority religious communi- ties in India and in the South Asian diaspora.
4. On Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle IIT-M
Whereas the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle of students at Indian Institute for Technology Madras (IIT-M) was “derecognized” by the Dean of Students on May 22 and prohibit- ed from conducting discussions on campus,
Whereas, it had earlier been asked by the Dean of Students to change its name,
Whereas the prohibition was imposed in response to the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MDHRD) intervention regarding a complaint that the APSC created ha- tred against Narendra Modi and Hindus,
Whereas the ban at IIT-M and the increasing interference of the government in autonomous institutions generated student protests in Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, and other cities in India,
Whereas these protests have led the IIT-M to reverse its decision and restore recognition to APSC on June 9,
Therefore, be it resolved that SANSAD condemns all attempts to suppress the freedom of discussion by institutions and the government and stands in solidarity with students across india who protest such repression,
We also demand that the IIT-M maintain a dialogue with APSC and not interfere in its free and critical operation.
5. On Sri Lanka.
Whereas the people of Sri Lanka had elected a new President to seek a solution to the ongoing unresolved political problem pertaining to the Minorities in the country,
Whereas the Freedom of the Press continues to be very much curtailed, with media personnel receiving threats and intimidation,
Whereas there is no additional information regarding the missing and Disappeared before and during the last stages of the war in 2009,
Whereas the internally displaced people are still languishing in temporary shelters and are unable to return to their homes and villages due to the militarisation of their traditional homelands,
Whereas over 89000 war widows from the Northern Province and Eastern Province out of which over 40,000 are with dependent children are inadequately helped by the state to maintain basic necessities of life,
Therefore be it resolved that SANSAD appeals to the International community, and the United Nations in particular, to address these issues and for the International court of Justice to investigate the war crime and the massacre of innocents during the last stages of the war in May 2009.
6. On the Attacks on Secularists in Bangladesh
Whereas the killings of Avjiit Roy, Ananta Bijoy Ghosh, Oyasiqur Rahman, and Ahmed Rajib Haider in Bangladesh and the attacks on people who believe in secularism are attacks on one of the fundamental principles of the constitution of Bangladesh,
Whereas civil society organizations in Bangladesh demand security for writers and bloggers and justice for the attacks against them,
Whereas the brutal killings of Roy, Ghosh, Rahman and Haider have become dis- turbingly familiar and have deepened the divisions between secular thinkers, religious practitioners and conservatives in Bangladesh,
Whereas In four cases, the assailants walked away after the attack and the govern- ment’s response to the string of attacks and killings is inadequate,
Therefore be it resolved that we stand in solidarity with the civil society initiative and demand that the Government of Bangladesh protect the writers, bloggers, and religious minority individuals’s rights to life, security, and freedom to practice their beliefs and de- fend the principle of secularism in Bangladesh.
7. On the lack of labor safety in Bangladeshi factories
Whereas two years after the Rana Plaza tragedy, in which 1,134 people were killed and 2500 injured, the working conditions in Bangladesh’s factories have hardly improved,
Whereas some 4 million workers, most of them young women, at thousands of garment factories, continue to live in precarious conditions, facing brutal labor exploitation in hazardous workplaces,
Wheres despite the praiseworthy compensation initiatives in place one third of the Western firms that made financial-assistance pledges to Rana Plaza victims have retracted their pledges,
Therefore be it resolved that we demand more meaningful adjustments to the global chain of production, including more frequent and stricter enforcement of safety measures and inspection.
We further demand that the government and the garments factory owners ensure the end of frequent and deadly fire-accidents and attend to the concerns of labor unions.
We also demand that the government bring the accused garments owners to justice.
8. On Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C 51)
Whereas the Anti-Terrorism Act (Bill C 51) expands government powers of surveillance and infringes on privacy rights;
Whereas the Anti-Terrorism Act allows spy agencies to access email inboxes, health information and personal tax information
Whereas the Anti-Terrorism Act criminalizes humanitarian relief work in war torn regions
Whereas the Anti-Terrorism Act permits intrusive border searches
Whereas the Anti-Terrorism Act increases surveillance on dissidents including Indigenous land defenders and environmental activists
Whereas the Anti-Terrorism Act will further racism and targeting of Muslim communities,
Therefore be it resolved that we oppose the Anti-Terrorism Act and call for it’s repeal in full.
9. On Truth and Reconciliation Commission Canada
Whereas over 130 years more than 150,000 First Nations, Metis, and Inuit children were taken away from their homes to residential schools run by churches and funded by the Government of Canada, where they were beaten, tortured, raped starved, and med- ically experimented on, and some 6000 of them buried in unmarked graves,
Whereas the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada after seven years of work has released its report with 94 recommendations for action, including that Canada “fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peo- ples” and that it “Repudiate concepts used to justify European sovereignty over indige- nous lands and peoples such as the Doctrine of Discovery.”
Whereas the TRC has characterized the residential school system as “cultural geno- cide” and called for an national inquiry into the hundreds of murdered and missing abo- riginal women, seen also as the victims of the system,
And whereas the Government of Canada has brushed aside these recommendations, claiming its apology of 2008 and subsequent actions as sufficient,
Be it resolved that SANSAD deplores the current government’s callousness toward this enormous crime and its continued legacy and demands that any future government ac- cept all the recommendations of the TRC.
10. On Climate change
Whereas there is scientific consensus that the limit for global climate change, beyond which the earth system will face irreversible and catastrophic consequences. is 2 de- grees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and that the possibility of staying within this limit is already in doubt,
Whereas the Kyoto Protocol of 2006, the only binding international agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming, established targets for 2020 and the forthcoming December 2015 conference in Paris will set the targets beyond 2020,
Whereas Canada is one of the worst per capita polluters in the world and the worst in the industrial world, producing 2 percent of the total global emission with a population of 33 million,
Whereas since the signing of the Kyoto Protocol Canada’s rate of pollution has gone up instead of declining,
Whereas in 2011 Canada was the first nation to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol and reduce its funding for the climate change plan,
Whereas the Prime Minister of Canada has shown his contempt for global efforts to ad- dress climate change by choosing not to attend the UN conference in New York in 2014,
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Whereas the 2015 budget has no reference to climate change but many to oil and pro- vision for subsidies to the natural gas industry,
Whereas the Canadian government promotes the development of the Alberta tar sands and the pipelines to carry the crude across ecologically sensitive terrain,
Whereas Canada has not indicated any target for reducing its carbon emissions (“In- tended Nationally Determined Contributions”) for the Paris conference as required by the conferences in Warsaw (2013) and Lime (2014),
Therefore be it resolved that we demand that the Canadian government fulfill its re- sponsibility to the people of Canada and the global community by committing itself to addressing climate change, set a meaningful target for emission reduction, and join the world community in creating a sustainable, carbon-free economy for our future genera- tions.