HAF Praises USCIRF’s Designation of Pakistan as Severe Violator of Religious Freedom, Disapproves of Inclusion of India in Tier 2 Category

Washington, D.C. (May 5, 2014) -- The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released its 15th annual report on April 30, eliciting a mixed reaction from the Hindu American Foundation (HAF).
 
The Foundation, which has worked closely with USCIRF over the past several years, praised the Commission’s designation of Pakistan as a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) for its particularly severe violations of religious freedom against the country’s minorities, including Hindus. Similarly, HAF welcomed the categorization of Malaysia as a Tier 2 country for serious violations of religious freedom, a move the Commission took for the first time since 2007. The Foundation, however, noted with disappointment that Bangladesh was left off both the Tier 1 (CPC) and Tier 2 lists, and relegated to a third category, “Other Countries and Regions Monitored.” HAF recently published a new policy brief on Bangladesh that documented the imminent dangers to religious minorities in that country.
 
“While we applaud the Commission’s designation of Pakistan as a Country of Particular Concern and the inclusion of Malaysia as a Tier 2 country, we are extremely disappointed that Bangladesh was not included in either list, said Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF's Director and Senior Human Rights Fellow. “Given the extent and systematic nature of religiously motivated violence against Hindus throughout 2013 and the beginning of 2014, it is inexplicable that Bangladesh received such little attention in USCIRF’s report.”
 
HAF expressed further concern with the Commission’s continued labelling of India as a Tier 2 country. “Unfortunately, USCIRF’s report largely glosses over India’s unprecedented religious accommodations for minorities, and fails to mention the significant investigations and convictions by the country’s independent judiciary in previous bouts of inter-religious violence,” said Jay Kansara, HAF’s Associate Director of Government Affairs.
 
“The report also misinforms the public on certain events, such as the terrorist attack on a Buddhist temple at Bodh Gaya, which was determined to be the work of the Indian Mujahideen.”
 
Last week, the U.S. Department of State published its Country Reports on Terrorism 2013, noting that Pakistan continued to serve as a safe haven for terrorists and failed to confront groups, such as Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, who posed a threat to both India and U.S. interests.
 
The Foundation has similarly engaged with the State Department on Pakistan’s support of terrorism and militant groups, as well as the growing power of radical organizations in Bangladesh.