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Mizzima: South Asia human rights fo

South Asia human rights forum to be set up

New Delhi, July 19, 2000
Mizzima News Group (http://www.mizzima.com)

Eminent human rights advocates and activists in South Asian countries
have joined together to form a regional human rights forum to work for
"raising standards of respect for human rights" in the sub-continent.

A press release issued today by the proposed "South Asian Initiative for
Human Rights" said that over the years human rights activists in various
South Asian countries have become increasingly aware of the reality that
the people of the region suffer identical abuses of their basic human

Several rounds of consultations among human rights activists in South
Asian countries had led to the formation of a convening committee to
work out the formation of a South Asia human rights forum.

The convening committee includes former Prime Minister of India Mr. I.
K. Gujral, former Bangladesh foreign minister Dr. Kamal Hossain, former
finance minister of Nepal Dr. Devendra Raj Pandey, Pakistan's human
rights campaigner and UN Special Rapporter on extra-legal killings Ms.
Asma Jehangir and Mr.Jeevan Thiagarajah from Consortium of Human Rights
Agencies of Sri Lanka.

The convenors are holding a founding convention of the South Asian
Initiative for Human Rights at Neemrana on Delhi-Jaipur highway in Alwar
district of Rajasthan on July 21st and 22nd with an aim to chalk out the
structure and functions of the organization.

At least 100 activists from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri
Lanka are expected to participate in the convention, which will be
inaugurated by former Prime Minister Mr. I. K. Gujral.

The organizers said that the regional forum would attempt to foster the
concept of South Asian identity in the shared ideals of democracy, peace
and human rights, to develop effective standards of respect for human
rights in the region and to hold meetings and workshops at national and
regional levels and to commission research and studies on human rights
in the region.

Senior journalist and Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament from India Mr.
Kuldip Nayar, who is also associated with this initiative, said that the
convention will be also discussing on how and what steps should be taken
to strengthen democracy in the region.