Freedom and Human Rights Denied to Many Hindus Worldwide

Hindu American Foundation's Annual Report Welcomed by Members of U.S. Congress

March 16, 2009 (Washington, D.C.) -- Hindus in several regions throughout the world face daily acts of persecution and even terror, according to the most recent Hindu human rights report released in Washington, D.C. today. Nine countries where rights abuses are considered the most rampant are listed in the 150-page report compiled and released annually by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF). A bipartisan chorus of ranking members of the U.S. Congress, and leaders of prominent non-governmental organizations (NGO's) immediately endorsed the report.

“As a staunch advocate for persecuted religious and ethnic minorities, I commend the Hindu American Foundation for its critical work monitoring, documenting and revealing human rights violations," said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) in a statement released to the Foundation. "Our work to combat the abuses detailed in this report is far from over and I will continue working with the Hindu American Foundation to protect basic human rights.”

Bangladesh and Pakistan saw the most egregious human rights abuses according to the report and garner specific censure. In Bangladesh, nearly 300 acts of murder, rape, kidnappings, temple destruction and land grabs targeting Hindus were recorded over the nine months of reporting available to the Foundation. The practice of enslaving children as bonded laborers continues unabated in Pakistan, and forced conversions and systematic persecution of Hindus has caused the continued decline of their population from 30% to around 1% over fifty years.

"That the most fundamental human rights to life and liberty are denied to people globally solely because of their faith is as unacceptable as it is undeniable," said Samir Kalra, Esq., editor of this year's report. "The annual HAF report bears witness to the plight of millions of Hindus and other minorities while encouraging dialogue on this issue that is too often ignored."

As in year's past, the Foundation distributed a preliminary version of the report, entitled Survey of Human Rights on the Hindus in South Asia and the Diaspora 2008, to congressional offices on Capitol Hill following up outreach efforts that continue throughout the year. The HAF Director of Public Policy, Ishani Chowdhury will followup with legislators advocating that appropriations of humanitarian and military aid be conditioned on real improvements in the human rights situation in recipient countries. Pakistan, as the recipient of the most U.S. aid out of countries listed in the report, is set to receive over $1 billion in aid in 2009.

"Where violations prevail, a constant disregard for basic human rights often leaves the oppressed and persecuted to suffer in silence," said Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) after examining the report. "The Hindu American Foundation’s tireless advocacy to promote awareness and action on behalf of Hindu minorities across the globe serves as a leading example for those who value human rights and freedom."

Malaysia again came in for censure in the annual report for the continued detention of non-violent Hindu activists belonging to the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) under draconian laws, and for the systematic treatment of Hindus as second-class citizens under Islamic laws. Saudi Arabia, Trinidad and Tobago and India's state of Jammu and Kashmir are among the regions included in the report.

"As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and co-chair of the House Caucus on India and Indian Americans, I have seen how the growth of radical Islam impacts the well-being of the Hindu population, and the threat to the peace-loving people of these nations," said Representative Ed Royce (R-CA). "This report importantly documents the plight of persecuted Hindus throughout South Asia and reports like this are important in documenting these human rights abuses."