Dalits represented in the 6th US
On Thursday, October 6,
2005, a delegation of NASO Community led by its
President Dharam Bishwokarma,
with its members Bishnu Pariyar,
Sharda Khati, Sitaram (Chandra) Bishwakarma and
Prakash Nepal represented Nepali Dalits in the
6th US Congressional Hearing on Caste
an encouraging experience to be there and hear how US Government is concerned
over the Dalit issues worldwide”, said Prakash Nepal. Overall, it was an exciting moment for NASO
Community members to be introduced as an organization.
hand account of the Congressional hearing provided by Prakash
THE CONGRESSIONAL HEARING:
the hearing, Dalit Freedom Network executives
presented papers on Dalit and Dalit
women issues (Details below).
following speakers presented their written papers on various issues:
- Dr. Kancha Iliaiah: Professor
of Political Science, Osmania
The Abolition of Untouchability: The key to stability in India
- Dr. Udit Raj: National chairman, All India Confederation of
SC/ST Organizations & India Justice Party.
Left Behind: The importance of Reservation for
the future of the dalits.
- Joseph D’souza: President, All India
Christian Council, President, Dalit Freedom
Topic: <No topic> written statement on Dalit
General Secretary and Maharastra State
President of All India conference of SC/ST Organizations.
Topic: Thrice oppressed: Caste Violence against Dalit Women
- After the speakers’ presentation, the question/answer
session on the topics began. Ms. Sharda Khati introduced
herself and the team of NASO Community, and said that it was formed by the
Nepalese residing in the United States.
The participants were very much delighted to see the presence of NASO
Community, and they started including Nepal’s
dalit issues in every topic of hearing
presented. This was a rare
opportunity to introduce NASO Community at the hearing.
- Second question was asked by Bishnu
Pariyar, who is also the President of
EDWON. Again, she presented herself
as a Nepali individual working for EDWON and NASO Community.
- The third question was asked by Prakash
member of NASO Community.
- NASO Community had prepared a booklet in the PowerPoint format
on various dalit tortures, and its
organizational brochure for distribution.
Since the distribution of the materials was not allowed in the
hall, NASO community delegates had to stop and handover them outside the
building; this was partially accomplished in another building where the
congressional hearing took place.
That material must have reached to a lot of journalists and
- Ms. Smita Narula gave special emphasis on Nepal’s
dalit issues and presented the scenario how dalits are sandwiched in between the Nepal Army and
Maoist. The Nepali delegates express their sincere appreciation and thanks
to Ms. Smita Narula.
- Prakash Nepal
and Sharda Khati had a
long conversation with Ms. Rushmie Kalke, reporter of Eagle Tribune, Boston. She was particularly interested in dalit issues and wanted to find out which COMMON
AGENDA can be hit in her paper. For
example, what would be the common issues for all dalits
who reside in the United States, or what kind of news would attract all dalits from all over the US and Canada. Briefly, Prakash
highlighted that any news related to dalit would
be the one. She was interested to
hear what NASO Community’s main goal is; and our goals, and priorities
were briefly mentioned.
hearing took place in another building called Rayburn building. Most of the
hearing was concentrated on the dalit issues in India and how the US government can help fight the discrimination. There were various suggestions from the
testimony varying from aid to India specifically allocated for the uplift of dalit.
established contacts with the following personalities: Dr. Berwa,
Luise Bush (Transform World Connections-Singapore), Peter
Dance (Director of Church Relations, Dalit Freedom
Network), Dr. Udit Raj
(Formerly Ram Raj; Chairman: All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations/
National President: Indian Justice Party;
Member: National Integration Council, Govt. of India), Rashmie Kalke, Veena Siddharth,
Washington Director, HUMAN RIGHT WATCH, Asia Division; Dr. Smita
Narula, Executive Director, Center for Human Rights
and Global Justice School of Law, New York University; and Dr. S. Madhava Rao, Civil Surgeon (Retd.) Chairman-Forum for Dalit
Literature, Hyderabad, Dr. Joseph D'souza,
International President-Dalit Freedom Network.
Community has to put up excellent effort in building relationship with
different organizations and individuals, and it would be a good idea to pursue
further from that point forward.
Bishnu Pariyar adds more on this event:
really good opportunities for us, theNepali delegates
to participate in the Congressional hearing on Caste and unsociability on 6th October, 2005 at Capitol Hill, Washington DC.
We (Bishnu Pariyar, the
founder of Empower Dalit
Women of Nepal and member of NASO community, Prakash Nepal, Dharam Biswokarma
Sitaram Biswokarma and Sharda Khati of NASO community) participated to this
historical event. We distributed brochures of Empower Dalit
Women of Nepal and NASO community. Even though we couldn’t present our papers,
we got chance to speak about the plight of Dalits in Nepal. We met a lot of people who are very interested in
learning about caste issues in Nepal.
House Committee on International Relations - Subcommittee on Global Human
Rights heard prominent Dalit Leaders on 6th October,
2005 at Capitol Hill, Washington. This Committee was chaired by veteran New
Jersey Congressman Christopher Smith. Other veteran Congresspersons like
Barbara Lee, an Afro-American representative from California, Sherman, Tanscredo, Forteinberry,
and Boozman were part of the Committee
Udit Raj, who is National chairman, All India Confederation of
SC/ST Organizations & India Justice Party said, “The US House Committee was
also requested to plead for reservation in the IMF, World Bank, and USAID aided
projects. US Enterprises are controlled by upper castes and hence they
are also not free from discrimination in hiring Dalit
Dr. Joseph D'Souza,
International President of Dalit Freedom Network
(DFN) said, “The US should support efforts to abolish caste through UN and
other International bodies.” He also mentioned donations coming from US should
be given tax exemptions if they guarantee admission of Dalits.”
Indira Athwale, the President of Maharashtra
State unit of the All India Confederation of SC/ST Organizations described that
Dalit women are victims of not only double jeopardy
Prof. Kancha Ilaiah expressed UN should
include Caste as a major source of discrimination, besides its five sources of
inequality like race, religion, gender, language, etc. He said that “US relationship and interests can be better guarded if there
is equitable distribution of wealth in India and Nepal, lest Dalits join in Maoist and Naxalite movements”.
Barbara Lee, an Afro-American added, "many of the
issues and difficulties concerning Dalits, very much
relate to their past history in US on slavery and segregation".
people of Nepal
should organize this kind of event in the future to focus more directly on our
Dalit Freedom Network Hosts Historic Conference on Capitol
Hill: Conference and House Hearing Mark a New Awareness of Caste Atrocities in
States asked to uplift Dalits: A statement released by Dr. Udit Raj (India)