Human Rights Group Censures Eleven Countries for Abuses Against Hindus

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 11, 2007) -  The Hindu American Foundation (HAF), the leading U.S. based Hindu human rights group, released its third annual report today on the discrimination against Hindus in countries across the world.  The report was released today at the foundation’s Washington, D.C. area offices.  The expansive, two hundred page report documenting abuses against Hindus in eleven countries and regions is already receiving widespread support by members of the U.S. Congress, community leaders, scholars, and several international human rights groups.

Ishani Chowdhury, Executive Director of the Hindu American Foundation, releasing the organization's latest human rights report: Hindus In South Asia and the Diaspora: A Survey of Human Rights 2006

As in years past, the chairs of the Congressional India caucus and other members of Congress reviewed a pre-release version of the report. Congressman Joe Wilson (R- South Carolina) stated that “Human rights abuses must be taken seriously, and this survey provides valuable information to keep my colleagues and me informed about unfortunate threats against Hindus around the world.”

This year’s report includes documentation of significant human rights abuses directed against Hindu communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Fiji, the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, and Trinidad and Tobago.  The report is prefaced by a detailed executive summary that provides specific recommendations that the foundation is proposing to improve the human rights situation in each listed country.

Endorsements for the third annual report were received from several academics and from organizations ranging from B’nai Brith International to the Human Rights First Society of Saudi Arabia.

“Several years ago in testimony to Congress regarding Religious Freedom in Saudi Arabia, I called for adding Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists to oppressed religious groups who are banned from practicing their religious and cultural rights in Saudi Arabia,” said Ali Al-Ahmed, Director of the Washington, DC based Institute for Gulf Affairs. “This report is a great effort in bringing to attention the religious rights and freedoms of 1 billion people with magnificent culture and a great civilization.”
 
As in past years, Bangladesh warranted added censure for the most egregious violations with 461 documented acts of murder, rape, arson, temple desecrations and other atrocities.  While the departure of the previous Khaleda Zia government with its Islamist alliance has brought new hope to Bangladesh, and an interim government in Fiji may also benefit Hindus in the Republic of Fiji, the need for sustained vigilance is emphasized in the report in all countries where Hindus have faced discrimination and have had their rights curtailed.

“From three countries that we covered two years ago, to eleven this year, HAF’s annual exercise in documenting human rights abuse is continually expanding.  The countries covered in this report are not rank-ordered in terms of level of discrimination and human rights abuse, nor does it mean that each of the eleven are abusers of human rights to the same extent,” said Ramesh Rao, Executive Council Member of HAF, and the primary author of the report.  “What is important in the report is the careful documentation of attacks against Hindus, Hindu institutions, and Hindu places of worship – providing a unique record of human rights abuse that other human rights agencies either gloss over or report only in general terms.”

The report can be downloaded, viewed or purchased online at http://www.hinduamericanfoundation.org/resources/human_rights_report .

The Hindu American Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3), non-partisan organization, promoting the Hindu and American ideals of understanding, tolerance and pluralism.