Hindu Human Rights Report gets Attention of Lawmakers
Washington, D.C. (August 22, 2006) - Even two months after its release, the second annual report on the status of human rights of Hindus in South Asia, Afghanistan and Fiji by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) continues to receive widespread support and endorsements. The report that was simultaneously released internationally by Global Human Rights Defence at The Hague has been distributed to several legislators, human rights organizations and numerous academic institutions. HAF already plans further discussions on specific content from the report in face-to-face meetings with legislators and members of the Bush Administration during meetings in September.
“We have truly been humbled by the outpouring of support this report has received,” said Ishani Chowdhury, Executive Director of HAF. “Our goal has always been to raise awareness of human rights violations against Hindus that are too often overlooked or unrecognized—we are gratified that we are moving towards realizing that goal.”
The report that was released at a press conference hosted by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) was also initially endorsed by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and several other members of the House of Representatives. Since then, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), a senate member of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus (CHRC) and leader of the Congressional Working Group on Religious Freedom, issued his own statement supporting HAF’s efforts to highlight the violations of human rights in several countries.
“The 2005 human rights report of the Hindu American Foundation is a valuable resource for those of us concerned about religious freedom and human rights for all people around the world,” said Senator Santorum. “I am grateful for this report that brings needed attention to the many instances of discrimination, harassment, violence, and destruction of temples and property experienced by Hindus in South Asia, especially in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Its recommendations will be useful as we seek to ensure the right of all people in all places to practice their religion in peace, absent from discrimination and persecution."
The report was featured widely in the press in Fiji and Australia as this was the first report to specifically highlight instances of religious intolerance, temple vandalism and attempts to politically marginalize many Hindus. The report was carried widely in Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi media as well.
“We are grateful to have the support of Sen. Santorum and other leaders who are part of the CHRC,” said Chowdhury. “Our goal is now to encourage the CHRC to hold hearings to further investigate the facts established in this report and gain their sponsorship on congressional resolutions condemning the ongoing abuses in various countries.”