Sapan Declaration on Human Rights and Equality

We, the participants at the session on ‘Human Rights and Equality in South Asia: Growing Up, Growing Together’, organised by South Asia Peace Action Network or Sapan, on December 26, 2021:

Expressing our concern at the deteriorating human rights situation across South Asia, amidst growing majoritarian authoritarianism and a rise in discrimination on basis of religious and ethnic identities;

Recognising that our national/domestic systems are either unwilling or unable to effectively address the widespread human rights violations we are witnessing; 

Noting that Article I of the SAARC Founding Charter, adopted on 8 December 1985, commits the SAARC organisation to promoting the welfare of the peoples of South Asia and to improve their quality of life; to contribute to mutual trust, understanding and appreciation of one another’s problems;

Recalling that Article II of the SAARC Social Charter adopted in 2004 accepted the universality of social development and called for international cooperation and partnership, aiming to promote universal respect for and observance and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, in particular the right to development, the effective exercise of rights and the discharge of responsibilities in a balanced manner at all levels of society, gender equity, the welfare and interest of children and youth; and to ensure social integration and strengthen civil society;

Reaffirm our commitment to this year’s Human Rights Day theme relating to ‘Equality’ and to Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights’;

Urge all SAARC Member States to work towards reviving and reactivating the SAARC organisation and its social divisions;

Call upon all South Asian governments to ensure establishment and strengthening of national human rights institutions as outlined in the Paris Principles; to ensure collaboration and cooperation among existing national human rights institutions on the matter of cross-border human rights violations; and to support the development of robust regional human rights mechanisms and a dedicated regional human rights institution.


Participants of the Sapan meeting on ‘Human Rights and Equality in South Asia: Growing Up, Growing Together’, December 26, 2021, and other registrants:

  • Aabida Ali, researcher/political organiser, Karachi
  • Abdullah Zahid, journalism student, Karachi
  • Adam Malik, development professional, Karachi
  • Adeel Masoodi, student, New Delhi
  • Aekta Kapoor, editor, eShe, New Delhi / Toronto
  • Afia Salam, journalist, Karachi
  • Ammar Ali Jan, historian, Lahore
  • Anurag Bhat, consultant, Srinagar
  • Beena Sarwar, journalist, Karachi / Boston MA
  • Bithi Ghosh, activist and organizer, Dhaka
  • Dhairya Thakker, New Delhi
  • Dr. Bushra Yasmin, university teacher, Rawalpindi
  • Fauzia Deeba, physician/ human rights activist, Quetta/Princeton NJ
  • Gurdas Dhadwal, lawyer, UK
  • Husnain Jamil Faridi, journalist, Progressive Students Collective, Lahore
  • Jatin Desai, journalist, Mumbai
  • Kanak Mani Dixit, journalist, Kathmandu
  • Kavita Srivastava, human rights activist, Jaipur
  • Khushi Kabir, coordinator Sangat, Dhaka
  • Lara Jesani, advocate, Mumbai
  • Mahnaz Rahman, director Aurat Foundation, Karachi
  • Mansoor Ahmad, doctor, Karachi
  • Mazher Hussain, social activist, Hyderabad, Telangana
  • Nasreen Azhar, human rights activist, Islamabad
  • Neel Kamal, journalist/special correspondent, Bathinda
  • Neha Kumari, Gurgaon
  • Nirupama Ghimire, independent researcher, Kathmandu
  • Priyanka Singh, researcher, data analytics consultant, Delhi
  • Rafique Kathwari, poet, Kashmir / New York
  • Ravi Prasad, St. Augustine
  • Sahar Moazami, human rights activist, New York
  • Sahil Laul, documentary filmmaker, Connecticut
  • Samar Tasselli, solicitor (non-practicing), Manchester
  • Samia Mehraj, UNICEF, Srinagar
  • Samir Gupta, IT entrepreneur, Ghaziabad
  • Sarita Bartaula, activist, Kathmandu/Maryland
  • Shabina Ayaz, freelance, Peshawar
  • Shahram Azhar, economist, singer, Rawalpindi/Lewisburg PA
  • Sneha Jha, researcher, London
  • Subha Wijesiriwardena, human rights activist, Colombo/New York City
  • Sunil Jaglan, social activist, Jind
  • Sushmita Preetha, journalist, Dhanmondi
  • Swati Sharan, social activist, South Windsor
  • Tahira Abdullah, human rights defender, Islamabad
  • Urvashi Butalia, publisher, New Delhi
  • Waqas Nasir, research and development officer, Lahore
  • Zahra Hussaini, human rights activist, Stockholm
  • Zohra Yusuf, media, Karachi

To add your name to this list and endorse Sapan’s statement, please fill this form.

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