Wednesday, Nov 30, 2022
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The Race To Be Heard

Sparks fly as Dalit activists run into a chastising Kofi Annan

The Race To Be Heard AP

Just when everything seemed to be going well for the strong Dalit contingent lobbying at the ngo forum of the World Conference Against Racism (wcar) here, a showdown at the plenary session with UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, on the eve of the inter-government conference, has put the skids on their campaign.

Annan snubbed the agitating Dalit activists who wanted him to respond to a statement by Republican Party of India MP Prakash Ambedkar that caste-based discrimination should be included in the programme for action and declaration at the inter-government conference. "We have come here to listen to each other and not to behave in this way. Let us have a serious dialogue," said Annan to the protesting Dalit activists. The secretary-general further told a packed plenary of about 5,000 ngo delegates and media persons that Ambedkar's was a statement and not a question that he had to answer. "Let us listen to each other and respect each other," a visibly annoyed Annan admonished the Dalit protesters. Also present was UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson.

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