Hindus Suffer Religious Persecution in Several Countries--Says Human Rights Report

Washington, DC (May 19, 2008).  Persecution, discrimination and terror are daily realities for millions of Hindu citizens from Bangladesh and Pakistan to Malaysia and Saudi Arabia among many other countries according to a human rights report released by the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) today.  The release of the fourth annual report entitled, Hindus in South Asia and the Diaspora: A Survey of Human Rights 2007 is now an annual rite for the Foundation and has brought widespread coverage to a human rights story many Hindus felt had been omitted or inadequately covered in the past.  The 2007 report covers ten countries in its 182 pages and is already gaining widespread support on Capitol Hill.

"All of us share common values: a respect for other people, their cultures and the beliefs that they hold," Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) said, "But as this report demonstrates, there are still too many instances where that respect is violated and people's rights are horribly abused."

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), a long-time human rights advocate for South Asia, echoed the remarks, "I am troubled by the continued human rights abuses perpetrated upon Hindus. However, I am confident that with the hard work of organizations like the Hindu American Foundation and their annual report, we can educate not only ourselves, but the world, and bring an end to such unconscionable mistreatment."

The Foundation's report was released in Washington, D.C. today and was the basis for the testimony given by the group's Director of Public Policy, Ishani Chowdhury, at Capitol Hill briefings on Malaysia earlier this year, and on South Asia last year.  As in years past, the report considers continuing violence and terror acts against Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan as the most egregious.  Despite a change in the government in Bangladesh, 270 acts of murder, rape and temple destruction were recorded in only the first six months, while the disproportionate enslavement of Hindus in bonded labor and kidnappings with forced conversions to Islam of Hindu women were reported again in Pakistan.  Malaysia was censured for violent suppression of Hindus, and Russia made the list for the first time as well.

The entire report was produced in-house at the Foundation and the effort was led by Prof. Ramesh Rao, Professor and Chair, Department of Communication Studies and Theatre at Longwood University.  Members of the HAF Executive Council contributed to the report.  As a complement to the report, the Foundation produced a new Government Supplement detailing appropriations from the United States to each of the covered countries and the State Department requests for aid.  The Government Supplement will be used in meetings with members of Congress to demonstrate that nearly 1 billion dollars in aid was appropriated to countries with a record of significant human rights violations against Hindus and other minorities.

"It is important to hold nations accountable for the aid that American taxpayers dollars are providing in good faith," added Chowdhury. "It is our hope that such information will provide our elected officials the tools needed to ensure that nations work towards eliminating human rights violations against the Hindu community."

"Creating public awareness is the first step in solving a problem--and by publicizing the kidnapping of Hindus in Pakistan, the unlawful seizure of Hindus' land in Bangladesh, and similar injustices around the world, the Hindu American Foundation's 2007 human rights report is contributing toward the solution of a very serious problem," said Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) in a statement released to the Foundation.  "I commend the HAF for their report and their continued work in preserving human rights."

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.