Maharashtra Activists defend their rights

Maharashtra Activists defend their rights


The forum was created at the end of a two-day training workshop conducted in Pune over the weekend.

Spurred by recent attacks, Maharashtra human rights defenders create forum to address vulnerability Dhamini Ratnam

Following the killings of CPI leader Govind Pansare, who succumbed to his injuries after two unidentified assailants fired at him near his Kolhapur home in February, and anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, who was shot dead in Pune in August 2013, Maharashtra-based human rights defenders (HRDs) have created a forum to address the threats they face in their line of work. The forum was created at the end of a two-day training workshop conducted in Pune over the weekend.

The training sought to provide clarity on who are HRDs and Women HRDs (WHRDs) and the mechanisms and strategies, both at the international and national level, needed to address the challenges they face. The workshop also offered information on how HRDs and WHRDs can access immediate help for the threats they face. On 28 and 29 March, lawyers, activists and non-governmental organization workers from different regions of Maharashtra participated in the human rights defenders Maharashtra state workshop—the first-ever training of the kind to have been conducted in the state, according to Rama Sarode of Pune-based human rights organization Sahyog Trust.

Other organizers included Madurai, Tamil Nadu, based Human Rights Defenders Alert—India and charitable trust Centre for Promotion of Social Concerns, besides national consortium Working Group on Human Rights. “Even as we fight for the rights of the vulnerable, we are coming across cases where human rights defenders are being attacked. It’s therefore important to come together to fight for our own protection,” says Sarode. There were 32 participants from various regions of the state, including Satara, Sangli, Solapur and Mumbai, working on women’s issues, children’s education, and Dalit rights, among other concerns.

“We conducted a session on how to draft an urgent appeal and provided information on the platforms through which human rights defenders could receive protection, funds, or support,” says Sarode, a lawyer. Her partner Asim Sarode, an environmental lawyer, has received threats on his stand on the matter of ex-communication by Jath or caste panchayats, after he supported Santosh Jadhav’s case in the Bombay high court.

In 2004, Jadhav contested and won the gram panchayat elections of Harihareshwar in Raigad. Immediately afterwards a gavaki (caste panchayat in Konkan Maharashtra) boycotted him and his family. Jadhav filed a police complaint and approached the courts. The case prompted the high court to issue guidelines, as there is no law till date that deals with victims of ex-communication.

“This workshop came about after a national training of trainers of HRDs in Madurai, which was attended by the organizers of this workshop. The Maharashtra trainer group strongly felt the need to conduct a workshop for human rights defenders in the state, as Maharashtra has seen more than 50 attacks on RTI activists, including 11 cases of murder over the last 10 years,” says woman human rights defender Kamayani Bali Mahabal, who conducted a session on gender and caste violence at the workshop.

The forum of HRDs intends to create a state-level network and reach out to more defenders, particularly in the western region of Maharashtra—in Marathwada and Vidarbha. The forum will work closely on the threats received by activist-writer Dr Bharat Patankar last week. Dr Patankar is president of the Shramik Mukti Dal, an organization working for the rights of workers. He received a letter earlier this month, which told him that after Pansare and Dr Dabholkar, it would be his turn next. The forum wrote an urgent appeal to the National Human Rights Commission regarding Dr Patankar and plans to address another appeal to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, based in Geneva.

The workshop also brought together activists to recognize the importance of various human rights concerns. “Gender justice, violence against women and women’s rights still tend to get pushed downwards in the hierarchies of various human rights movements, hence it is important that gender, sexuality, disability and caste need to be mainstreamed in the work of human rights defenders,” said Mahabal.

OHCHR Indigenous Fellowship – 2016 Training Programme

OHCHR Indigenous Fellowship – 2016 Training Programme


Call for applications: OHCHR Indigenous Fellowship – 2016 Training Programme (English language)
The Indigenous Fellowship Programme was launched in 1997 by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the context of the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. The aim of the programme is to give representatives of indigenous peoples the opportunity to gain knowledge on the UN system and mechanisms dealing with human rights issues in general and indigenous issues in particular. Trained participants are better equipped to assist their organisations and communities in protecting and promoting their rights. This training programme is available in 4 languages: English, Spanish, French and Russian.
Please note that the deadline to receive applications for the 2016 English language component of the Indigenous Fellowship Programme is: 25 May 2015.
You can find the 2016 application form as well as explanations on how to apply on our web page in these 2 links:

HRDA – NHRC – Tamilnadu – Gross Violation of ‘Right to Association’ of HR organizations/ HRDs in TN – Plea Requesting NHRC Intervention –

HRDA – NHRC – Tamilnadu –  Gross Violation of ‘Right to Association’ of HR organizations/ HRDs  in TN – Plea Requesting NHRC Intervention 

  1. Annexure 01-Copy of the communication from the Public Prosecutor to the Govt
  2. Annexure 02-Table of cases registered in the state for using the word human rights in the names of HR organizations
  3. Annexure 02-Total FIRs in TN with details of the press details and also verified with the SB Inspectors of each of the District SPs
  4. Annexure 03-HRDA-UA-Tamilnadu-Case of Mr. Kandasamy
  5. Annexure 03A-Photograph of Mr.Kandasamy in the Govt Hospital, Ramanathapuram
  6. Annexure 03B-Photograph of Mr.Kandasamy in the Govt Hospital, Ramanathapuram
  7. Annexure 04-Tamilnadu Societies Registration Amendment Act 2010
  8. Annexure 05-Deccan Chronicle 05032015
  9. Annexure 06-NGOs shut for using ‘human rights’ in name – The TOI Mobile Site
  10. Annexure 07-The New Indian Express-Madurai 08-03-2015 DigitalEdition
  11. Annexure 08-NHRC Specific Circulars
  12. Annexure 09-UN Declaration on human rights defenders 1998
  13. Annexure 10-Report of UN SR on HRD to India A-HRC-19-55-Add1

Judgement of the Delhi High Court in the case of Priya Pillai of Greepeace

Judgement of the Delhi High Court dated today in the case of Priya Pillai of Greenpeace argued by Ms.Indira Jaising. The Priya Pillai judgment upholding the right to dissent as part of the freedom of speech in a democracy; the right to travel abroad as part of personal liberty. Dissent cannot be muzzled in a democracy. Dissenting from the government’s development policies is not anti national. It is a happy moment for human rights and the right to personal liberty and expression.

OHCHR Minorities Fellowship Programme

OHCHR Minorities Fellowship Programme

About the OHCHR Minorities Fellowship Programme

The Minorities Fellowship Programme (MFP) was launched by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in 2005.

Through the MFP, the OHCHR aims to give persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities an opportunity to gain knowledge on the UN system and mechanisms dealing with international human rights in general and minority rights in particular. The MFP is intended to assist organizations and communities in protecting and promoting the rights of minorities the fellows belong to.

The MFP is held annually and until 2014 had two linguistic versions: The English language programme has been running since 2005 and the Arabic language programme has started in 2007. The Arabic language component began as a two-week pilot and gradually expanded to five weeks in 2011. The duration of the programmes varied until 2011, when both programmes were decided to last 5 weeks and coincide with the session of the Forum on Minority Issues. In 2014 the Minorities Fellowship Programme acquired a Russian language component, to be fully synchronized with the other two linguistic components.

The Fellows are based at the OHCHR Geneva, Switzerland. The MFP is interactive and consists of briefings on several topics (e.g. the UN system, OHCHR work, human rights mechanisms and instruments), fellows also undertake individual and group assignments.

At the end of the MFP, the fellows should have a general knowledge of the United Nations system, international human rights instruments and mechanisms in general and those relevant to minorities in particular and be capable of further training their communities/organizations. The Programme furthermore serves as an opportunity for human rights activists working towards the protection and promotion of minority rights to expand their partners’ base by building a strategic dialogue with fellow activists from across the globe, the United Nations, relevant Geneva-based NGOs, amongst other partners.

English language component

The English language component of the Minority Fellowship Programme gives selected fellows the opportunity to learn more about the promotion and protection of minority rights, OHCHR, and the UN system as well give them an opportunity to attend the 8th session of the Forum on Minority Issues.

Minorities Fellowship Programme 2015  – Call for applications

Please note that the Minorities Fellowship Programme 2015 will be held from Monday, 26th of October 2015 to Friday, 27th  of November 2015.

The deadline for application for the English component is Monday, 6 April 2015.

Fellows are entitled to the following: a return ticket (economy class) from the country of residence to Geneva; basic health insurance for the duration of the Programme; a stipend to cover modest accommodation and other living expenses for the duration of the Programme.

Who can apply? 

1. The candidate must belong to a national, ethnic, linguistic or religious minority group (persons who do not belong to a minority group will not be taken into consideration, even if they have close links with minority communities and/or organizations)

If your community identifies as indigenous, please do not apply to this programme but to our Indigenous Fellowship Programme . Please note that the Indigenous Fellowship is a separate programme and has different application forms and deadlines.

2. Formal education should not be a limitation to participation in the Minorities Fellowship Programme, if relevant experience can be demonstrated.

3. Candidates should have ability, willingness and possibility to train other persons belonging to minorities upon return to their respective communities/organizations and should agree to do so.

4. The candidates must have a good working knowledge of the language in which the programme is imparted (English).

5. The candidate should be proposed and his/her candidacy supported by his/her organization and/or community. It is desirable that the sponsoring organization has a firm constituency or membership, is representative, undertakes work on minority issues and is composed of persons belonging to minorities.

6. The overall goal of the Minorities Fellowship Programme is to offer persons belonging to minorities the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills in the field of international human rights in order to assist their organizations and communities in protecting and promoting human and minority rights. Therefore, it is important that the candidate proposed and nominated by a minority organization or community be someone who will return to his or her NGO to work in this field.

Selection process

The selection of fellows reflects a gender and regional balance. The general human rights situation in the respective regions/countries is also taken into consideration as is the situation of the minority community to which the applicant belongs to.

The selection of successful candidates is undertaken by an advisory group composed of OHCHR staff.

In view of the large number of applications, we regret to inform that only successful candidates will be contacted.

How to apply?

Fellowship application forms can be downloaded from the following link:

Application form 2015 – English

Both parts I and II of the application form must be filled in and signed. In addition, application forms need to be accompanied by an official recommendation letter from the nominating organization or community. Fellowship applications will only be taken into consideration if they are fully completed.

Interested candidates should submit their application indicating “Application to the 2015 Minorities Fellowship Programme” as subject either by e-mail*, by fax to the number +41 22 917 90 08 or by post to:

Application to the 2015 Minorities Fellowship Programme
Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
CH-1211 Geneva 10

* E-mailed applications must be signed, scanned and submitted as a single PDF file.

Any questions pertaining to the Minorities Fellowship Programme can be directed to the addresses mentioned above.

Please note that applications received after the closing date will not be considered.

Senior Minorities Fellowship Position

The Senior Minorities Fellowship Position aims at giving a better understanding and appreciation of the international human rights system and mechanisms, especially those dealing with minority issues, to a selected member of a national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minority with relevant experience and education.

Through the experience gained during three months of working with the OHCHR Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section the Senior Fellow will gain practical knowledge and working level experience by directly contributing to the programmes and activities of the Section. The Senior Fellow is expected to return to his/her community better equipped to contribute towards the promotion and protection of minorities.

In 2015 the duration of the Senior Minorities Fellowship will be from Tuesday, 1st of September 2015 to Friday, 27th of November 2015.

The deadline for application for the Senior Minorities Fellowship Position is Monday, 20 April 2015.

Entitlements: The selected candidate will not receive a salary but will be entitled to a monthly stipend that will cover basic living expenses in Geneva, as well as return ticket home and basic health insurance. Please note that this is not a regular employment position within OHCHR and it does not lead to employment rights and entitlements beyond the terms of the Fellowship.

Who can apply?

Candidates must belong to a national, ethnic, religious or linguistic minority group. They should also have:

1. A first level university degree in combination with several years of relevant experience in the field may be accepted in lieu of a masters degree.

2. A minimum of four (4) years of work experience in the field of minority rights. Proven research and drafting skills are highly desirable. Experience in building the capacity of NGOs and other civil society actors will be an asset.

3. Candidates must be fluent in English. Other language skills including Spanish, French or Arabic are highly desirable.

How to apply?

Application form for the position of the Senior Minorities Fellow can be downloaded from the following link:

Application form 2015 – Senior Minorities Fellow

Interested candidates should submit their application indicating “Application to the 2015 Senior Minorities Fellowship Position” as subject either by e-mail*, by fax to the number +41 22 917 90 08 or by post to:

Application to the 2015 Senior Minorities Fellowship Position
Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
CH-1211 Geneva 10

Forthcoming UN disability-related events

Forthcoming UN disability-related events:

15 March: Public Forum: Taking action toward a disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction framework and its implementation: (Sendai, Japan), organized by the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of DSPD/DESA, in collaboration with DESA’s global partners, will discuss and document concrete recommendations toward disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction (DiDRR) as a contribution to the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, its outcome and future implementation of the Hyogo Framework of Action II (HFA2) as an integral part of the post-2015 development agenda. (

Disability issues at the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction: (14-18 March, Sendai, Japan), hosted by the Government of Japan and organized by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the World Conference is expected to attract around 8,000 participants with several thousand more participating in public-related events. Participants are expected to agree on a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction (DRR). (

20 March: World Down Syndrome Day 2015 Conference: “My Opportunities, My Choices” – Enjoying Full and Equal Rights and the Role of Families, (Conference Room 2, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., UN Headquarters, New York) organized by Down Syndrome International in cooperation with the Permanent Missions of the Australia, Brazil, Iran, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Poland and Singapore to the United Nations, UNICEF, UNDESA, International Disability Alliance, and Inclusion International. Commemorating, the 10th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day and the ‘21’st anniversary year of the ‘International Year of the Family’, the Conference will focus on the role of families and the positive contribution that they can make towards the enjoyment of full and equal rights for people with Down syndrome. (; to register:


2 April: World Autism Awareness Day 2015: Panel Discussion – “Employment: The Autism Advantage” (Conference Room 4, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., UN Headquarters, New York) organized by the United Nations Department of Public Information and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in cooperation with The Specialist People Foundation, with the support of the United Nations Global Compact. The panel discussion will focus on measures required to support growth in employment opportunities for people on the autism spectrum. The intention will be to demonstrate that people with autism can be valued employees for employers who understand their unique and often exceptional skills, as well as what it takes to create work zones where people with autism can excel. A call to action will be launched at the United Nations on 2 April, World Autism Awareness Day, inviting businesses to make concrete pledges and commitments to employ persons with autism. Businesses will be encouraged to use the platform established by the United Nations Global Compact at to submit voluntary commitments to deliver concrete results in support of the principles contained in Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). (; to register to attend:


9 – 11 June: 8th Conference of States Parties to the CRPD (Conference Room 4, UN Headquarters, New York), participate in one of the world’s largest international disability events at UN Headquarters in New York. NGO and NHRI registration, applications for NGO accreditation and for conducting side-events opens on 27 March 2015. Check out equipment and services available through the UNHQ’s Accessibility Centre.(