US passes historical resolution on Untouchability in India

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http://www.dalitnetwork.org/go?/dfn/news/us_house_of_representatives_passes_historic_resolution_on_untouchability

US House of Representatives Passes Historic Resolution on Untouchability
by Ben Marsh, Social Justice Coordinator,
 Dalit Freedom network
July 23, 2007

House Concurrent Resolution 139 (see downloadable file below) is the First Official Statement on
Untouchability by US Congress

Washington, DC – The House of Representatives today passed HCR 139, “expressing the sense of the Congress that the United States should address the ongoing problem of untouchability in India,” by voice vote this afternoon.

The resolution is the first of its kind from the United States Congress. Sponsored by Congressman Trent Franks and Co-Sponsored by thirty-three leading humanrights advocates in Congress including Congressman Tom Lantos, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, the bill contains historic language on untouchability in India, including a lengthy findings section detailing the effects of untouchability and caste abuse on outcastes in India.

The resolution calls on the United States government to work with India to address the problem of untouchability by raising the issue of caste discrimination through diplomatic channels and encouraging US businesses, USAID, the State Department, and other US programs and organizations working in India to take every possible measure to ensure Dalits are included and are not  discriminated against in their programming.

“We have seen history made in this resolution,” said Nanci Ricks, Executive Director of the Dalit Freedom Network. “This resolution should encourage all Dalitssuffering under caste discrimination in India. The United State Congress has heard of the atrocities of caste and has responded. We hope that the United States Government and US businesses working in India will heed this statement by the House and will join with the Dalit Freedom Network in fighting the effects of caste across India.”

Dr. Joseph D’souza, President of the Dalit Freedom Network, praised the leadership of Congressman Franks and the many others whose active support of the Dalit cause made HCR 139 possible: “without the leadership of Members of Congress like Congressmen Franks, Wolf, Smith, Sali, Tancredo, Pitts, and Congresswoman Kilpatrick in sponsoring Dalit events, filmscreenings, and hearings and directing their staff to advocate on this issue with vigilance, this historic moment would have never happened. They and the many others who have worked to make this resolution a reality have earned the gratitude of millions of Dalits across India.”

The resolution will face a concurring vote from theSenate soon.

The Dalit Freedom Network’s mission is to partner with the Dalits (India’s Untouchables) in their quest for religious freedom, social justice, and human dignity by mobilizing human, informational, and financial resources.

Download House Concurrent Resolution 139

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