SACW Dispatch #2 | 1st Aug. 00
- South Asia Citizens Web Dispatch #2
1 August 2000
[This issue of the Dispatch is dedicated to the memory of Ali Sardar Jafri
who died on Tuesday in Bombay. Ali Sardar Jafri one of India's best known
#1. Pakistan: Who is the Enemy of Islam ?
#2. Pakistan: Protest Against Internet Policing
#3. India: News report on the Death of Ali Sardar Jafri
#4. Canada / South Asian Disapora: Report on South Asia Solidarity event
#5. Briefing on Upcoming World Conference Against Racism, Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) 2001
The News International (Pakistan)
31 July 2000
ENEMY OF ISLAM
Who or what is the most dangerous enemy of Islam? Is it the Christian
fundamentalist, insisting with misguided zealotry that his is the only
true faith? Could it be the Hindu fanatic, determined to destroy mosques
and marginalise or even expel Muslims, as Mr Bal Thackeray would wish?
Or might it be western secularists, seemingly hell-bent (literally?) on
seducing young people from religious faith by spreading gross and
degrading images in the guise of 'global culture' and 'information
technology'? In fact it is none of the above: for the gravest and most
potent enemy of Islam is the poorly educated and arrogant Muslim bigot
whose ignorance of the world is complemented by a revolting combination
of blinkered fanaticism and warped rejection of intellectual probity.
The indefatigable Pamela Constable of the Washington Post recently went
to Pakistan's North West Frontier Province and reported in her usual
estimable fashion on what she saw and heard. She quoted a religious
teacher, one Samiul Haq, as saying that Pakistan's leaders "cannot dare
to touch us," and observed that the maulanas "exercise a formidable veto
over issues of Muslim law, culture and policy that not even the
country's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, has felt strong
enough to challenge."
It is time this fellow Samiul Haq was brought firmly into line. Nobody
is above the law of the land, and if somebody likes to think he might
be, and can boast about it openly, he should be informed in robust terms
that this is not what law is all about. In fact, it is time that all of
the arrogant religious leaders were told a few home truths, beginning
with people like Samiul Haq. His uncompromisingly blinkered approach to
life is well-described by a brilliant young reporter, Jeffrey Goldberg,
in the New York Times magazine of June 25 in a piece called "Inside
Jihad U: the education of a holy warrior". His disturbing description of
Samiul Haq will have been read by educated and responsible people
worldwide. Little wonder that Pakistan is regarded with considerable
suspicion by those whom it should be cultivating, and who can do it
nothing but good by their benevolent interest, should there be reason to
display that. But they consider, as do I, that the beautiful bottle of
Islam has given forth some flawed genies of fearsome, intimidating and
vicious disposition, whose only motivation is achievement, extension and
exercise of personal power.
I had a disquieting email from a young Pakistani friend a few days ago:
"I travelled by road through Taxila, Abbotabad, Manshera, Nathiagali,
Murree, etc, and was appalled by what I saw. Almost every wall by the
roadside is covered with jihadi slogansit's like travel back in time.
'Bara khandan, jihad aasaan (the larger the family the easier it is to
fight jihad)', 'Come to our training camp to learn jihad tactics',
'Qitaal (massacre of kafirs) is a duty of every Muslim,' etc. It is
terrifying." Sure it is; and the sooner this type of wicked nonsense is
stamped out, the better it will be for Pakistan. Apart from anything
else, these slogans make nonsense of the official claim that Pakistan
has no military training camps in which unfortunate and otherwise unemp
loyable youths are taught that adherence to religion brings approval and
licence to commit violence. Foreign reporters see the graffiti and
report worldwide that Pakistan is going fundo, and observers of Pakistan
are confused and apprehensive about what is going on. Of much more
importance, possible investors in Pakistan are flocking in their
hundreds to invest--in India. And who can blame them?
Muslim fanatics say they don't want western investment. They say it
encourages influences that corrupt the young; that people are led from
the path of virtue into scandalous behaviour; that peculation will
thrive; and that, in any case, Pakistan doesn't need foreign companies
in order that its peoples should live decently. This is all tripe.
I have to admit a certain sympathy with the view that multinationals are
interested only in profit. Of course they are. In fact most of them
appear to be unscrupulous, dishonourable and very nasty. They are in
business to make money, the more the better, and the devil take the
hindmost. Widows might weep and orphans go hungry, but, by God, company
profits will not suffer. But this does not mean to say their influence
is entirely negative. Worldwide investments are not confined to
benefiting flinty-eyed, hard-nosed profiteers, because their activities,
dubious as they might be, contribute enormously to national growth in
the developing world. For a country to ignore global capitalism is to
accept permanent relegation to the dark ages. But this seems to be what
the maulvis want.
One maulana Adbul Malik, head of a new group called the 'United Islamic
Revolutionary Front'--which very title is an open challenge to the
government of Pakistan--said the other day that "We warn the
administration to ban forthwith all the cable [television] networks in
Peshawar or we will do it by force." "OK, sonny", the government should
say: "try to use force, and see what happens." And then they should
thump him, very hard.
But I have remarked before that these religious leaders are always ready
to threaten violence and encourage their misguided adherents to come on
to the streets and chuck stones--but they are never to be seen when the
fighting starts. Oh, no: they are back at the ranch, not to the
forefront of the rioting mob that is obeying their orders and taking the
teargas and lathi charges. They are more than ready to whip up poor
ignorant street people and 'students' from their propaganda factories
that masquerade as religious centres; but when there is the possibility
of physical danger the beards are seen being driven away quickly in
their glossy, tinted-glass Pajeros. And how many maulanas are fighting
in Kashmir, one wonders? India would make much of the capture or killing
of a religious leader who was bearing arms, were such to occur--but
there has never been an instance of this. The 'jehad' in Kashmir would
seem to be conducted without the benefit of attendance by those who most
encourage it, and who appear to be comfortable with the fact that young
men make the ultimate sacrifice, while they wag their henna-tinted
beards in the luxury of their snazzy four-wheel-drives. (And where does
the money come for them, anyway?)
The self-proclaimed maulana Abdul Malik says that "cable [TV] networks
spread obscenity in our society." He claims that cable and satellite
transmissions are threats to Islamic culture and traditions. No, they
are not: they are a threat to the power of hypocritical and devious men
who want to keep as many people as possible in subjection and in
ignorance of the wider world, entirely for their own reasons. Their
model is the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, a warped and inglorious
representation of religion, whose 'minister for vice and virtue,'
Mohammed Turabi, has a good claim to be the most intolerant person on
the planet. This fellow lost an eye and some appendages in Afghanistan
during the war against the Russians, and is now hysterically anti-woman.
He appears, in fact, to be a seriously disturbed person who ordered
house-dwellers in Kabul to paint their ground-floor windows black, lest
a passerby might see a female. He has banned women from undertaking any
sort of work, and has forbidden education of girls.
His bizarre and vicious orders have nothing to do with the teachings of
the Qur'aan or the Hadith. They are dreamed up, in a particularly
reptilian and horrible way, by men whose minds are so demented and
grotesque that they can see neither the essential inner beauty of women
nor appreciate its external manifestations. These men, in fact, are no
better than beasts, who regard female representatives of their species
simply as vehicles for base sexual satisfaction and have no finer
feelings for them. These fanatics are not protecting women; rather they
persecute them in the name of religion, but in reality their atrocious
and deviant behaviour stems from a weird and seemingly uncontrollable
desire for personal satisfaction that would attract the aghast but
fascinated attention of any Freudian analyst. They are seriously
sick--but they have influence over many untutored young, whom they seek
to mould in their own warped image.
Jeffrey Goldberg's NYT piece on "The education of a holy warrior"
describes the terrifying and obscenely pathetic existence of 'students'
in Samiul Haq's 'academy' in NWFP. Some of these poor, misdirected,
confused and innocent boys asked him whether American men are "allowed
by law to keep boyfriends and girlfriends at the same time." The
ignorance of the world displayed by these unfortunate robots ("Candy
comes from America; I like candy") is simply a reflection of their
repression by cramped and freakish instructors whose embittered personal
persuasions are conveyed to unformed minds in the guise of piety.
Does Pakistan want to go the Taliban route? I think not. But if it
doesn't want Taliban-style bigotry to be the law of the land, then the
time has come for action to put some of these wicked genies back in the
good bottle of Islam, from where they can learn from and about the rest
of the world, and, one hopes, be eventually released as constructive
teachers rather than divisive, intolerant and malevolent influences on
society. There isn't much time left, before the bigots bring out the
mobs on the streets. These men are the greatest enemies of Islam. If
they achieve their aims, would anyone then undertake to invest in
Pakistan? Only undertakers
IPS GENDER AND HUMAN RIGHTS BULLETIN
31 JULY, 2000
DEVELOPMENT-PAKISTAN: Protest Against Internet Policing
By Muddassir Rizvi
ISLAMABAD, Jul 20 (IPS) - The Pakistani government's decision to regulate
the Internet in the country to block cheap telephony and pornography has
come under flak for intruding on personal freedom.
While rights groups have slammed the announcement by the state monopoly
Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation (PTCL), information technology (IT)
experts say the move will be counterproductive.
Media commentators also rapped the military regime for enforcing outdated
notions of "morality". They have described the step as "regressive" at a
time when other Islamic nations were opening up to the rest of the world.
"While the rest of the world is preparing to cultivate the benefits of the
IT revolution, PTCL is adopting one of the most regressive and myopic
policies of control," said Faisal Zubair Abbasi, an Islamabad-based rights
activist who works with a local Internet Service Provider (ISP).
Since its introduction five years ago, the number of Internet users in
Pakistan is estimated to have grown to 175,000.
The government's telecom company announced in mid-July that it was setting
up two National Access Points (NAPs) in Karachi and Islamabad to control
"We are installing NAPs to block Internet telephony and pornographic
websites," said a PTCL official.
However, the PTCL insists that the decision is more commercial in nature and
meant to minimise financial losses caused by the growing popularity of cheap
Internet-based telephone calls in the country.
"Telephone calls made via the Internet have caused a huge revenue loss to
the PTCL estimated to be in the range of 2.8 million U.S. dollars per
annum," said a PTCL press statement.
More and more Pakistanis are using the new technology to cut down telephone
bills while speaking to relatives abroad.
"A three minute call to Canada would cost around 300 rupees (about 60
dollars ) but the call of same duration made through the Internet will cost
less than a few cents," said the owner of a cyber cafe in Islamabad.
"While the Pakistani government is blindly integrating the country's economy
in the global economy, it is not allowing the benefit of modern technology
to its people," he added.
But Internet telephony is not the only reason. "By establishing NAP, we can
block access to pornographic sites. This will encourage, especially among
young people, healthy and educational use of the Internet," the PTCL
The critics see this as a "control-freak" state's bid to undo the liberating
influence of the Internet.
"The Pakistani state views itself as a guardian and promoter of Islamic
moral values as defined and dictated by the forces of orthodoxy and has so
far thrived by manipulating...ideas that are fed to people through
state-controlled electronic media and a pliable print media," said media
commentator Najum Mushtaq.
"Perhaps for the first time, a technology is becoming available to the
average middle class Pakistani that threatens to break free of this
controlled communication," he observed.
Rights activists, IT experts and Internet users are also accusing the
government of going back on its promise to encourage use of the medium. The
government had cut down bandwidth charges by 53 per cent earlier this year
so that more ISPs could start operations.
According to rights activist Abbasi, such monitoring and control "creates
opportunities for a 'politically-motivated sniffing' into emails and other
"It seems that the 'morality' propaganda of PTCL is frivolous and naive in
the potentially anarchic world of cyberspace," he said.
IT experts also pointed out that there was no way of technically ensuring
that censorship of this kind could be confined to pornography without
hampering the flow of other information.
"Pornography is a relative term and when defined by state-functionaries in
Pakistan, it can mean anything from a mere description of parts of human
anatomy to a ceremonial kiss to men in shorts," said Najumul Islam, an IT
consultant in Islamabad.
According to some experts, the PTCL decision to set up NAPs at only two
points will slow down Internet access speed. The Internet Service Providers
Association has opposed the PTCL plan to set the NAPs, saying it will slow
down Internet traffic and discourage investment in the IT sector.
"The PTCL wants to police cyberspace through NAPs, which will cause a logjam
because the scanning of data will drastically slow down the services," said
one ISP representative. (END/IPS/ap-dv-hd/mr/mu/00)
Times of India
1 August 2000
ALI SARDAR JAFRI DEAD
MUMBAI: Jnanpith winner Ali Sardar Jafri, one of the leading lights of the
progressive Urdu literary movement, died of brain tumour on Tuesday at a
hospital here. He was 86.
He had been ailing for quite some time and was undergoing treatment at the
Bombay Hospital for the past two months. The end came at 8 am.
A great revolutionary, intellectual and orator, Jafri's acclaimed work,
Sarhad, a compilation of poems, was carried by Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee
to Pakistan during his Lahore bus trip in 1999.
He highlighted the cause of the oppressed class and realities of life
through his works and preached peace and humanism.
Jafri wrote against imperialism and did not restrict himself to India. His
other well-known compilation, Asia Jaag Utha, exemplifies this.
An alumnus of Aligarh Muslim University, he was a students' union leader
and went to jail on several occasions during freedom struggle.
Jafri came to Mumbai in 1942 and made the city his home till his end.
Maharashtra honoured him with the first Dnyaneshwari award, instituted by
the state government three years ago, for his immense contribution to
Influenced by Iqbal, Jafri also wrote autobiographical poems. He was a
close associate of Turkish poet Nazim Hikmat and Chilean poet Pablo Naruda
and another legendary Urdu writer Faiz Ahmed Faiz.
He -- along with Sahir Ludhianvi, Kaifi Azmi, Majrooh Sultanpuri and Uma
Shankar Joshi -- were the pioneers of the Urdu progressive movement. (UNI)
[Email from Hari Sharma | 1 August 2000]
SOUTH ASIANS BRAVE THE WEATHER: TO
PICNIC TOGETHER AND TO FORGE SOLIDARITY
by Hari Sharma
With skies spitting off and on, clouds rolling in a menacing way, and a
threat of a thunderous storm hanging in the forecasts, it wasn't the best
of BC weathers to start a day. Yet almost one hundred people - children,
women and men - braved the weather and came to the Trout Lake Park in
Vancouver on Saturday, July 22, to participate in the picnic organized by
the newly formed organization, South Asian Network for Secularism and
Experts had been consulted. Knowledgeable people had looked at the weather
pattern over the past many decades. And after calculating all the odds,
July 22 was selected, almost two months ago, as the best bet for planning a
picnic in the Vancouver area. And for the whole week (and more), leading up
to the Saturday, we had every reason to be grateful to our
crystal-ball-gazers. Bright sun, soothingly warm days, long and pleasant
evenings: there was everything to justify the proclamation on the
province's license plates, "Beautiful British Columbia".
But come Saturday, and it seemed like the Rain gods (Hindu, Muslim, Sikh,
Christian, and every other Rain God) conspired to foul our plans. Or maybe
it was the Advanis, the Musharrafs, and their likes, who didn't want the
diverse South Asians to come together to celebrate their common and rich
cultural heritage. Dark clouds. Chilly winds. Drizzling skies.
The spirits were dampened a bit; but the resolve was not. Almost two
hundred people had indicated their desire to come and join the afternoon's
celebration. What if only ten people showed up? Or only five, or even one?
So the huge pots kept simmering. Chapatis kept rolling. Dedicated members
kept up the pace.
By the time the pots and pans, cups and plates, tables and chairs, berries
and watermelons, and the newly crafted SANSAD banner arrived at the park,
the Gods of different faiths also relented. The clouds didn't go away, but
they stopped watering the earth.
And people kept coming - not only South Asians but also Iranians, black
Africans, and Caucasians.
In a significant sense, the ninety-six people at the picnic represented
the diverse South Asian community living in the Vancouver area. There were
people from Sri Lanka - both Tamil and Sinhalese speaking. There were
Nepalis as well as Pakistanis. South Asians who came to Canada from Fiji
were there; so also those who migrated from Africa or South East Asia.
Among those from India there were those whose mother tongue is Bengali,
Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi, Sindhi and Tamil. It was thus a most
unprecedented mix of the people of South Asian background. Certainly the
various South Asian people do come together: to watch an entertainment
show, a cultural performance or a sports event. But to the July 22 picnic
they came because they consciously wanted to get together and know each
Their presence and participation in several activities have proved the
correctness of the new organization, SANSAD; as a vehicle for strengthening
the bonds and for sharing each other's concerns.
The organization is new only in name though. It is a transformed identity
of NRISAD (Non-Resident Indians for Secularism and Democracy), an
organization that was formed in 1993 in the wake of the demolition of Babri
Masjid at the hands of fascist forces who had been trying to turn India of
a composite civilization into Hindu Rashtra. Over the years NRISAD has
carried out many educational and cultural activities to uphold the secular
and democratic values, and to openly oppose the agenda of the fascists
forces in India. In the course of our work we attracted the participation
not only of "NRI's" but also of the broader South Asian spectrum:
Pakistanis, Nepalis, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis, Fijians, migrants from East
Africa, etc. They supported our work, joined as members of NRISAD, and also
actively contributed to the work of the organization. And as our practice
in the community deepened, we realized that the name NRISAD was too
confining both in terms of the affinity of the people we worked with as
well as the mandate of our work. At the last AGM of NRISAD, it was
therefore decided by unanimous vote to change the name and broaden the
mandate of the organization. NRISAD became SANSAD. The acronym "sansad"
means, in Sanskrit, "People's Assembly".
The picnic held at the Trout Lake Park on July 22 - despite the dampness
the skies had created - was a good beginning for SANSAD. Almost everyone
present at the picnic expressed a wish to make it into an annual feature.
We hope to do so. But we also hope to carry out a variety of activities in
order to highlight the shared concerns of South Asians living in the
province, and to bring the enormously rich diversity in our community on a
We appeal to the members of the South Asian community to come forward to
support SANSAD and its activities. Bring to us your concerns. Let us know,
for example, if you face racially motivated discrimination. Racists do not
discriminate by the religion we practice, or whether we came from
Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Fiji, Srilanka, or East Africa. Support
us if you support the movement for democracy in the land you come from.
Support us if you oppose religious bigotory, religiously-based hatred and
violence. Give us your voice and strength if you are repelled by the manner
in which members of the Christian and Muslim communities in India are
singled out for murders, arson, rape, and scapegoating. Join us if you are
concerned with the rights of minorities in the land you come from; or
elsewhere. And bring to us, and to each other, your music, poetry, dance,
and the smells and taste of your foods.
On our part, SANSAD will strive to make sure that what happens in Fiji or
Sri Lanka should not be a matter of anxiety for only those who have roots
there; it should concern all of us. At least we should strive to become
educated about the happenings in those countries and in India, Pakistan,
Bangladesh, Nepal. We shall strive to take stands when human rights of
people are violated in any one of these countries. We shall strive to
campaign for better living and working conditions for the ordinary people
in those lands. We shall strive to campaign for peace and demilitarization
in the South Asian sub-continent.
With the help of the South Asian community here, SANSAD will join hands
with similar organizations located in other cities of North America and
Europe, many of which came together recently to form the International
South Asia Forum (INSAF).
We may not succeed to make the Rain Gods relent every time we plan a
picnic; but there are many things we can do when we are together.
Briefing Note No. 2, 28 July 2000
BY THE NGO LIAISON FOR THE WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM, RACIAL
DISCRIMINATION, XENOPHOBIA AND RELATED INTOLERANCE (WCAR)
I. Dates and Venue for the World Conference and NGO Forum.
As noted earlier, the WCAR will take place in South Africa from 31 August
to 7 September 2001. There is still no decision on the city. The NGO Forum is
likely to be from 29 August-2 September 2001 (dates still to be confirmed).
II. Organizing Committee for the NGO Forum
The Organizing Committee for the NGO Forum will be led by the South
National NGO Coalition, SANGOCO. Contact Mr. Moshe More at the following e-mail
for further information: moshe@....
III. Preparatory Process
The report of the first session of the PrepCom, which took place in Geneva
>from 1-5 May 2000, is now available as A/CONF.189/PC.1/21 (in English, French,Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese). It is available on the website of the
High Commissioner for Human Rights < http://www.unhchr.ch/html/racism/index.htm
>.The second session of the PrepCom will take place in Geneva from 30
May - 8
In addition, there will be an Open-Ended Inter-Sessional Working Group
Meeting in Geneva, 15-19 January 2001. The Inter-Sessional Working Group will
have before it a document prepared by the Secretariat of the World Conference
(i.e., a draft Declaration and Programme of Action).
There will also be an Informal Meeting, 19-20 October 2000, to plan for
the Inter-Sessional Working Group and to begin discussion on the sub-themes of
the five major conference themes.
NGOs with Consultative Status with ECOSOC or which are accredited to the
World, Conference, can attend these meetings as observers.
IV. Regional Preparatory Meetings
There have been changes in the dates of some of the Regional Preparatory
meetings since the first Briefing Note was prepared. The Regional Preparatory
meetings and the associated NGO meetings will now take place as follows.
Regional Preparatory Meeting for Europe (in Strasbourg, France), organized
by the Council of Europe, 11-13 October 2000. On 10 October, there will be a
European NGO Forum. For further information about these meetings, see the
website of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), <
Regional Preparatory Meeting for Africa (in Dakar, Senegal), November 2000
(specific date still to be determined). An African NGO Forum will be held one
day prior to the meeting. For details about that NGO Forum, contact Mr. Alioune
Tine at Rencontre africaine pour la défense des droits de l?homme (RADDHO)
Regional Preparatory Meeting for Latin America and the Caribbean (in
Santiago, Chile), 4-6 December 2000. No decision has as yet been taken about
whether Canada and the USA will be invited as participants of this meeting. An
NGO Forum will be held just prior to this meeting. For details, contact Ms.
Cristina Zeledon at the Instituto Inter-Americano de Derechos Humanos (IIDH)
Regional Preparatory Meeting for Asia (in Teheran, Iran). New date! 19-21
February 2001. An NGO Forum will be held 18 February. For details, contact Ms.
Nimalka Fernando at the International Movement Against All Forms of
Discrimination and Racism (IMADR) <imadr@...>.
Note: NGOs wishing to participate in the preparatory meetings (whether in
Geneva or in the regions) must either have Consultative Status with ECOSOC
accredited to the World Conference. The procedure for getting accreditation to
the WCAR is noted below.
There are funds available to assist NGO participation at these Regional
Preparatory meetings. If your NGO wishes to participate and needs financial
assistance, it is important to contact the relevant ?organizing? NGO noted
above, and to submit an application as rapidly as possible.
V. Regional Expert Seminars
Two expert seminars have already taken place.
The first was on ?Remedies Available to Victims of Acts of Racism, Racial
Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and Good National Practices
in this Field,? which took place in Geneva, 16-18 February 2000. The second was
an Expert Seminar for Europe, which took place in Warsaw from 5-7 July 2000 on
the theme: ?Protection of Minorities and Other Vulnerable Groups and
Strengthening Human Rights Capacity at the National Level?. Three others are
scheduled as follows.
Expert Seminar for Asia (Bangkok), 5-7 September 2000. Theme: ?Migrant
Workers and Trafficking of Persons, with Particular Reference to Women and
Children? (Point Person: Gloria Nwabuogu. Email: gnwabuogu.hchr@....
Tel. 41-22 917-9394.)
Expert Seminar for Africa (Addis Ababa), 4-6 October 2000. Theme:
?Preventing Ethnic and Racial Conflict? (Point Person: Aziz Ndiaye. Email:
andiaye.hchr@.... Tel. 41-22 917-9826.)
Expert Seminar for Latin America (Santiago de Chile), 25-27 October 2000.
Theme: Economic, Social and Legal Measures to Combat Racial
with Particular Reference to Vulnerable Groups (Point Person: Robert
Husbands. Email: rhusbands.hchr@.... Tel. 41-22 917-9290.)
Note: NGOs with ECOSOC consultative status or which are accredited to the WCAR
may participate in these experts seminars as observers: i.e., they may ask
questions, make comments, or suggest recommendations. Others who wish to
participate may do so as a member of the public gallery, but with no rights to
speak or submit documentation. All NGOs wishing to attend an expert seminar,
both those which have and those which do not have consultative status or
accreditation to the World Conference, should write a letter to the member of
the WCAR Secretariat responsible for the meeting (as noted above), indicating
the name of the NGO representative(s) who will attend. The point person will
provide details about time and venue.
VI. Other Regional NGO Meetings
The Secretariat of the OHCHR is also planning to support four regional NGO
meetings intended to feed into the NGO Forum. While the dates and venues have
not yet been confirmed, the plans at present are for meetings:
for Africa, in Botswana: contact Ms. Chantal Kisoon at the Centre for
Human Rights, University of Pretoria <ckisoon@...
for Asia, in Amman, Jordan: contact Arab Organization for Human
(AOHR), Mr. Nizam Assaf, <achrs@...> or
for the Americas, in Quito, Ecuador: contact Ms. Irene Leon at
Latinoamerican de Informacion (ALAI) at <mujeres@...>
or contact Mr. Mark Hecht at Human Rights Internet (HRI) at
for Eastern and Central Europe, in Warsaw: contact, Mr. Marek
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, at <jacquel@...>
Further information will be provided as soon as it is available.
VII. Decisions of the First Session of the PrepCom regarding the structure of
The First Session of the PrepCom elected Ambassador (Mme) Absa Claude
Diallo of Senegal as its Chairperson. Ambassador Diallo chaired the
sessional working group of the 55th Session of the Commission on Human
Rights (1999) on the preparation of the World Conference.
Other members of the Bureau are the following: Tunisia, Islamic
Iran, Malaysia, FYR of Macedonia, Georgia, Brazil, Mexico (Rapporteur),
France, USA and South Africa as ex-officio.
In the Rules of Procedures adopted at the First Session of the PrepCom, it
was decided that the Conference would establish one Main Committee and one
Drafting Committee, and these Committees may set up their own
or working groups. NGOs will be permitted to participate in the work of
both of these Committees (and any subcommittees or working groups they
establish) on questions within the scope of their activities.
This means that NGOs will be able to make oral statements as well as to
submit written statements to the Conference. (See details about written
VIII. Slogan and Themes of the Conference
The First Session of the PrepCom adopted the following World Conference
?United to combat racism: Equality, Justice, Dignity?
It also adopted the following 5 broad themes of the Provisional Agenda.
(1) Sources, causes, forms and contemporary manifestations of racism,
racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance;
(2) Victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related
(3) Measures of prevention, education and protection aimed at the
eradication of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related
intolerance, at the national, regional and international levels;
(4) Provision of effective remedies, recourse, redress, [compensatory] and
other measures at the national, regional and international levels;
(5) Strategies to achieve full and effective equality, including
international cooperation and enhancement of the United Nations and other
international mechanisms in combatting racism, racial discrimination,
xenbophobia and related intolerance, and follow-up.
Note that the word ?compensatory? in theme 4 is in square brackets because
there was no general agreement for including this term.
IX. Accreditation of NGOs
1. NGOs which have Consultative Status with ECOSOC may participate in the
World Conference and its Preparatory processes. As well,
Indigenous Peoples or Indigenous Organizations which have been accredited
to participate in the Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights on
the draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, under ECOSOC
Resolution 1995/32, may participate in the World Conference.
NGOs/Indigenous Peoples or Indigenous Organizations wishing to accredit
representatives to any of the meetings are invited to send their request
(s) (one letter of accreditation per meeting) to the secretariat of the
Preparatory Committee, for the attention of:
Ms. Catherine Brémont,
OHCHR, Room PW 1-051,
Palais des Nations, 8-14
Avenue de la Paix,
CH - 1211 Geneva 10
Tel: : 00 41 22 917 92 62,
Fax: 00 41 22 917 90 11,
2. NGOs which do not have Consultative Status can be accredited to the
World Conference under Resolution 1996/31, and Decision PC 1/5 of the
Session of the PrepCom as follows:
(a) An NGO applies to the Conference Secretariat with required
documentation (see information note for NGOs not having Consultative
Status, on the website of the OHCHR and/or questionnaire on the web).
(b) This documentation is reviewed by the Secretariat to ensure that
complete and that the NGO meets the criteria for accreditation.
(c) When 10 applications have been received, the Secretariat sends a note
verbale to all governments with a list of the NGOs applying and its
recommendation. Governments have 14 days to raise any concerns they
(d) Where no concerns have been raised, the Secretariat will forward the
name of the applying NGOs to the Bureau of the PrepCom for
(e) If concerns are raised about an NGO, the Secretariat will inform the
NGO about the government?s comments and give the NGO the opportunity
to reply. It will then forward the government?s concerns, the NGOs
comments and its own recommendation to the Bureau for action. The
Bureau, in consultation with the regions, will decide whether or not
to accredit the NGO.
(f) If the Bureau decides not to accredit, the matter will go to the
Second Session of the PrepCom (in May 2000) for final decision.
3. Additionally, representative of Indigenous peoples or organizations
may apply for accreditation under ECOSOC Resolution 1995/32, in which case
the decision is taken by ECOSOC?s Committee on NGOs, not the Bureau of the
4. NGOs must be also be accredited to the World Conference if they
participate in the Regional Preparatory Meetings. However, once they have
been accredited to participate in a regional Preparatory Meeting, they
automatically be accredited to participate in the World Conference itself
and any other preparatory meeting.
5. Since accreditation is a complicated/lengthy process please note and
respect the following deadlines. To be accredited, a complete application
must be received by:
20 August 2000 for, African Preparatory meeting in Dakar
4 October 2000 for South American/Caribbean Preparatory meeting in
15 November 2000 for accreditation to Inter-Sessional Working Group
meeting in Geneva
19 December 2001 for Asian Preparatory meeting in Teheran
28 March 2001 for accreditation to Second Session of the PrepCom
As a precaution, if you want to participate, apply NOW or as early as
possible. You should send your applications to: Ms. Sandra
OHCHR, Palais des Nations, Room PW-RS181, 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland.
(41-22) 917-9129. Fax. (41-22) 917-9050. Email: saragon.hchr@...
X. Written Statements
If written statements of NGOs are to be circulated at the Inter-sessional
Working Group meeting or during the Second Session of the PrepCom, they
must be submitted 10 weeks prior to the respective meeting. It helps
statements are submitted electronically, and especially if text can be
provided in English, French and Spanish. Length is restricted to 1,500
words, except that NGOs which have ?general? consultative status may
submitted up to 2,000 words.
XI. Substantive Contributions to the Declaration and Programme of Action
As the Secretariat of the WCAR is currently beginning to prepare the draft
Declaration and Programme of Action for the World Conference, which will
initially be considered during the Inter-Sessional Working Group Meeting
(January 15-19, 2000), NGOs in consultative status or those accredited to the
WCAR are invited to submit contributions (i.e., text and other suggestions).
Contributions should be post-marked by August 15 to ensure their inclusion and
should be sent to the Secretariat of the World Conference Against Racism,
of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rm RS 181 Palais Wilson, 52 rue des
Paquis, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland.
Website of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for general information
on the WCR: http://www.unhchr.ch Click on World Conference Against
at the top of the Home Page.
NGO Website for the World Conference: http://www.hri.ca/racism
(with links to many other sites dealing with racism)
NGO Website with a specific European focus: http://www.icare.to
XIII. Guide to Participating in World Conference
The International Human Rights Law Group has produced an excellent
Participating in the UN World Conference Against Racism, which is
in English, Spanish, Portuguese and French, in hard copy. It will shortly
also be available on the web. The Law Group plans to periodically updated
this manual throughout the preparatory process. For copies, contact Ms.
Alison N. Stewart, Special Projects Coordinator, IHRLG, 1200 18th St.,
N.W., Suite 602, Washington, DC 20009, USA. Tel. (1-202) 822-4600; Fax.
(1-202) 822-4606. Email: HumanRights@....
XIV. Other Meetings to Note
A large number of other meetings are taking place as part of the
preparatory process for the World Conference. To the extent that we receive
information about these meetings, we will redisseminate that information
South African National Conference on Racism 2000 will be taking place in
Johannesburg from 30 August to 2 September. For further information, visit the
website of the South African Human Rights Commission,
contact Ms. B. Tselapedi, SACHR, Private Bag 2700, Houghton 2041, South Africa.
Tel. (27-11) 484-8300. Fax. (27-11) 484-7146. sahrcinfo@...
Minority Rights Group Roundtable on Strengthening the Implementation of
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Discrimination, 5 August 2000, in Geneva. This 10th annual roundtable of
will focus on strengthening the implementation of the Convention. For details,
contact: Mr. Paul Gaskell: Minority Rights Group, 379 Brixton Rd. London SW9
7DE, UK. Tel: 44-20-7878-9498. Fax: 44-20-7738- 6265. E-mail:
Conferencia Nacional de Honduras contra el Racismo, 15 August 2000, in
Hotel Honduras Maya, Tegacigalpa. For further information, contact: Mr. Celeo
Alvarez Casildo, e-mail: calvarez@...
XV. For further information on how NGOs can participate in the WCAR, contact:
Laurie S. Wiseberg
NGO Liaison for the WCAR
Room 4-025 Palais Wilson
Tel. (41-22) 917-9393
Fax. (41-22) 917-9050
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