‘Freedom of expression and the courage to express oneself go hand in hand’ – an interview with John Dayal

Indian human rights activist, senior journalist and former president of the All India Catholic Union John Dayal is this year’s winner of the prestigious annual Louis Careno Award for Excellence in Journalism, awarded to an individual or institution for their outstanding contribution to the press by the Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA). Dayal has spent over four decades as a champion of minority rights and the right to freedom of religion or belief in India and is a household name within the Indian Christian community.

The award will be conferred by the ICPA on 10 December, Human Rights Day, which follows International Human Rights Defenders Day, during the 27th National Convention of Christian Journalists in Chennai. The ICPA described Dayal as “a prophet of our times who is among India’s foremost voices against human rights violations, particularly on the persecution of religious minorities.”

Last month, CSW spoke to Dayal about his early years as a journalist, the state of freedom of religion and belief in India today, role of the press and more.

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International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances – Stories from China

Gao Zhisheng has been kidnapped, tortured and detained on and off by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime since 2006. In 2019, his wife Geng He told the International Service for Human Rights that being disappeared has become “the norm in his life”.

In that same interview, she added, “My children and I have never experienced the common happiness of united families… We only have one wish, which is that Gao Zhisheng is alive and that he can come back home alive.”

Ms Geng, who has been in exile along with her and Gao’s children since 2009, has just marked another sad anniversary: the fifth anniversary of her husband’s most recent disappearance.

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Human rights advocacy in a world of interests: why the EU fell short at India’s Raisina Dialogue

India’s Minister of External Affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, was recently asked how he saw the country’s role in defending free societies globally – a diplomatic way of confronting India on its failure to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

His answer was, if not reassuring to human rights proponents, certainly honest: “Countries evolve a combination of values, interests […] and all of us would like to find the right balance”.

This has always been the tension at the heart of foreign policy. And the European Union (EU) is no exception. Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty (which forms the constitutional basis for the bloc) reads: “In its relations with the wider world, the Union shall uphold and promote its values and interests”.

In our interactions with the EU, human rights organisations repeatedly appeal to the Union’s stated values. Whilst, in general, the EU is a benevolent global actor on human rights, there are instances where an appeal to values alone is not sufficient to galvanise action.

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India’s reservation policy is meant to help Dalits, as long as they don’t convert to Christianity or Islam

In June, we published a blog post detailing the history of Dalit conversion in India and how this can often be an act of self-liberation for members of this historically underprivileged community. This continues to this day, however there are those in the community, particularly those who convert to Christianity or Islam, who can continue to face discrimination and hardship even after conversion.

For this blog, we spoke to a Christian who works on Dalit and other human rights issues in the country, who shared some of her own experiences and shed light on the issues that persist for Dalits in India today.

“Growing up as a Christian in India, there were some decisions that you had to make early on in life. One such decision was what I would put my caste down as in my school’s admission form. I was taught that we are all God’s children and we are all equal, but why was I being asked to classify myself? I was a Christian, so I ticked the box that said OC (Other Caste) because we were taught that Christians don’t have castes and that was the only sensible option available. Also, because I was privileged to not know what caste I belong to. 

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Recognising the remarkable: A call for the release of Nguyen Bac Truyen

“He never refused anyone who needed his assistance… He was doing his work with much humility… I believe that he belongs to a human category that could not ignore any injustices that happened around him.”

Vu Quoc Dung, human rights defender with Veto!

“He is a man of honour, admired and respected by many”

A supporter[1]of Nguyen Bac Truyen

“Standing up for one’s own community is admirable; but standing up on behalf of others, when you yourself are being oppressed – that is truly courageous.”

Ed Brown, Secretary-General at Stefanus Alliance International
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