HAF's Congressional Briefing on Bangladesh: June 10, 2015

Bengal Burning: The Murder of Avijit Roy and the Escalating Crisis in Bangladesh

In light of the recent murder of Bangladeshi American writer and blogger, Avijit Roy, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) invites Congressional leaders, staffers, NGOs, think tank experts, and the public at large to a Congressional Briefing on the escalating crisis in Bangladesh.

The murder of Roy, a humanist and an outspoken critic of Islamic extremism, symbolizes a growing trend of religious fundamentalism in this pivotal South Asian nation. During the Foundation’s recent fact-finding trip to Bangladesh, several NGOs, civil society leaders, and minority groups expressed serious concern with the increasing power of Islamists and the burgeoning danger of pro-ISIS activity in the country.

This briefing, therefore, seeks to bring together human rights and policy experts, in order to explore the ongoing threats to secular democracy, freedom of thought, and pluralism in Bangladesh. It will also examine the impact of mounting political unrest on the nation’s stability and American geopolitical interests in the region.

To read more about human rights violations and religious fundamentalism in Bangladesh, view the Foundation’s annual human rights report and policy brief on Jamaat-e-Islami.

Date: Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Time: 10:30am - Noon (light refreshments will be served)
Location: 2103 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC
Michael De Dora is the Director of Government Affairs and Representative to the United Nations at Center for Inquiry. He also serves as president of the UN NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Michael has collaborated with activists in various countries, including the late Avijit Roy in Bangladesh, to protect and advance the right to freedom of expression.
Rukhsana Hasib was born in Bangladesh and experienced the horrors of genocide first hand, during Pakistan’s occupation in 1971. Her mother and little sisters were thrown in prison camp after her father was taken away by armed military men. After Bangladesh became independent her the remains of her father, a Pakistani military officer persecuted because of his Bengali persuasion, were discovered in one of seven mass graves. Rukhsana is passionate about speaking out against abuse and indignities to women around the world and against religious extremism, and is a regular contributor to Huffington Post. She is also the author of Shadows in the Sun, Shackles of Time, and Redemption of Red. Rukhsana has served in several civic leadership positions in the United States, including President of the Delaware Valley Bangladesh American Association, and is a Steering Committee member of Bucks against Gun Violence.
Jay Kansara is the Director of Government Relations at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF). He also serves as HAF’s liaison to the Hindu community in the greater D.C. area. Jay visited Bangladesh in early 2015 on a fact-finding mission to examine the on-the-ground religious tension in the country and the growing human rights issues that religious minority populations face.
Samir Kalra, Esq. is the Senior Director and Human Rights Fellow for the Hindu American Foundation (HAF). He leads HAF’s human rights advocacy efforts and has served as a panelist at the National Press Club and multiple Congressional briefings on human rights and religious freedom in South Asia. He authored the Foreword for a book on Bangladesh entitled A Quiet Case of Ethnic Cleansing: The Murder of Bangladesh's Hindus. Mr. Kalra serves as a member of Rep. Eric Swalwell's (D-CA) Immigration Advisory Committee and is a member of the American Society of International Law and the South Asian Bar Association.
RSVP: jay@hafsite.org or 202-223-8222