2nd Annual Hindu Human Rights Report
BY: STAFF CORRESPONDENT
Photo by Sanzen
Jun 30, WASHINGTON, DC (SUN) Second Annual Report on Hindu Human Rights Released on Capitol Hill.
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) held a press conference today on Capitol Hill to release its much anticipated second annual report on the status of human rights of Hindus in South Asia, Afghanistan and Fiji. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), senior ranking member of the House International Relations Committee, co-hosted the press conference held in the Rayburn House Building. In her remarks, Ros-Lehtinen expressed serious concern over the facts presented in the human rights report and welcomed the document as a crucial resource.
A House resolution calling attention to human rights violations against Hindus prompted by, among other things, the HAF report, is being prepared and the congresswoman is expected to deliver a separate floor statement highlighting human rights violations that are particularly severe in Bangladesh.
"The second annual report on Hindu human rights is an objective compi lation from reports by credible human rights groups of the genocide, ethnic cleansing, terrorism, and discriminatory laws that Hindus face everyday in parts of South Asia and beyond," said Ishani Chowdhury, Executive Director of HAF. "This report documents a humanitarian tragedy that fills an important void existing in reports by both governments and other human rights organizations."
The 105-page document is entitled "Hindus in South Asia & the Diaspora: A Survey of Human Rights (2005)". The report has garnered a broad array of endorsements from several members of Congress, various academics and human rights and religious leaders of diverse faiths.
"By documenting human rights violations against Hindus in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Fiji and the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Hindu American Foundation continues to raise global awareness of these abuses," said Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY), as he joined Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jo e Wilson (R-SC), Jim Ramstad (R-MN) and many other members of the U.S. Congress whose endorsements of the report continue to be received daily at HAF offices in Washington, D.C.
The 2005 report individually documents over 500 incidents of murder, arson, rape, desecration of temples, usurpation of property and other forms of violence against Hindus over a single year in Bangladesh. The report confirms a continuous rise in such attacks since the 2001 general election brought the Bangladesh National Party to power in coalition with Islamist political organizations. In 2005, according to the HAF report, Pakistan witnessed a spate of Hindu temple destructions, kidnappings and forced conversions of Hindu girls. Furthermore, the government of Pakistan continues a grim policy of aiding and abetting Islamist organizations recognized as terrorist groups by the U.S. State Department such as the Lashkar-e-Toiba.
Executive Director, Ishani Chowdhury presenting a copy of the Hindu American Foundation's 2nd Annual Hindu Human Rights Report to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehitnen (R-FL) at Capitol Hill. Also present (L-R): Nikhil Joshi, Esq., Member of Board of Directors; Rajit Das, Intern; and Dr. Aseem Shukla, Member of Board of Directors.
HAF included Fiji in the 2005 report as part of its long-term goal of highlighting human rights abuses against Hindus in the diaspora beyond South Asia. Despite comprising 38% of the island nation's population, Hindus and their r eligious institutions are routinely attacked in Fiji. The heavily influential Methodist Church there has called for conversions of Hindus and establishment of a Christian state.
"Everyone who is concerned with obtaining the necessary human rights and privileges for people of all religions should be indebted to the Hindu American Foundation for bringing into the light the serious discriminatory practices and unacceptable behavior which in any way makes for insensitive treatment of Hindus and their faith," said Ernest Weiner, Executive Director of the Northern California Region of the American Jewish Committee.
After reviewing the report, Iftekhar Hai, President of United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance condemned extremist violence and said, "It gives me great pain to note that extremist Muslims, a tiny minority, are unleashing terror on our Hindu brothers and sisters."
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean and co-founder of the Simon Wi esenthal Center, a widely respected international human rights organization, heaped similar praise on HAF. "The Simon Wiesenthal Center welcomes this report which will help the international community and non-governmental organizations to have a broader understanding of the human rights situation in that important region of the world. "
Several academics on campuses around the U.S. also reviewed this year's report. "This report by the Hindu American Foundation...is a real eye-opener," observed Professor Nathan Katz, Professor of Religious Studies at Florida International University. "As a minority in Islamic societies that consider them to be 'idolaters,' Hindus in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan face unimaginable persecution routinely."
The HAF report was simultaneously released by Global Human Rights Defence in the Hague, Netherlands, where that organization is committed to spreading awareness about the contents of the report in the European Union.
HAF leadership hoped that this year's report will again serve as a credible source of information for governmental and human rights organizations. The HAF report calls for concrete action by responsible governments to end religious persecution. The foundation plans to follow the report with coordinated activities to raise awareness over Hindu human rights in Washington, D.C. and at international venues throughout the year.
The report can be downloaded, viewed or purchased online here.
The Hindu American Foundation is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting the Hindu and American ideals of understanding, tolerance and pluralism. Contact HAF at 1-877-281-2838 or on the web at www.hinduamericanfoundation.org .