Advocacy statements

Attacks on Dalit Rationalists

  • Date / 2019
  • Location / India
  • Relevant Institution / UN Human Rights Council
  • UN Item / Item 9: Follow-up and implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action


International Humanist and Ethical Union

40th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (25th February – 22nd March 2019)

General Debate Item 9

Discrimination and inhuman conditions remain the daily reality for tens of thousands of Dalits in India. The majority of Dalits are restricted to the most menial, dirty and dangerous jobs and when they refuse to perform such tasks, they get physically abused and socially boycotted. 

Rational activists and free thinkers who are well known for their efforts to put an end to these inhuman practices by speaking out against Hindu nationalism and promoting humanism, are targeted by Hindu right-wing and other extremists. A number have been assassinated, others continue to live under threat. One such person is Narendra Nayak the President of our member organisation – Federation of Indian Rationalist Association. He has been a target of several death threats and in March 2017, he reported a suspected attack on his life.

In short: while the previous and current Indian governments have failed to end the dehumanizing practices towards Dalits, rationalists who stand against racial discrimination and aspire for an equal society are subjected to threats and violence. Sadly, those attacks coincide with a period of increasing intolerance by the state and are often carried out by groups claiming to support the ruling BJP.

We urge this council to put more pressure on India to stop caste-based discrimination, guarantee the respect of human dignity, personal security and equal rights in law and in practice to all its citizens.

Suggested academic reference

'Attacks on Dalit Rationalists', Humanists International

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