The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has released its first annual report on the status of Hindu human rights in Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Entitled Hindus in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Kashmir: A survey of Human Rights 2004, the report was prepared by HAF and compiles media coverage and first-hand accounts of human rights violations perpetrated against Hindus because of their religious identity. The 71-page report was delivered prior to its release to the co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Gary Ackerman, who endorsed the report.
The Hindu human rights report the first in what is to be an annual publication was prepared to document a humanitarian tragedy largely omitted in reports by the US State Department and larger human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. While these groups often mention the attacks on Hindus according to HAF, the group maintains that the massive scope of this human rights disaster requires the extensive coverage that this report provides.
Executive Summary of the Report
The human rights of Hindu citizens are consistently violated in three regions where Hindus constitute a minority: Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Jammu & Kashmir.
- Over 400 documented attacks have taken place on Bangladeshi Hindus between January and November 2004.
- These attacks include the day to day acts of murder, rape, kidnapping, temple destruction, and physical intimidation.
- Hindus are labeled as enemies of Bangladesh. The Enemy Property Order II of 1965, under which property belonging to Hindus was identified as enemy property, was renamed as Vested Property Act in 1972, and under which, the Government of
- Bangladesh vested itself with alleged enemy properties. Still in force, this Order of the President and the Enemy \ Vested Property Act has not been subjected to any judicial review.
- Hindus, who comprised nearly 30% of Bangladeshs population in 1947, now constitute less than 10% of the population.
- By 1991, 20 million Hindus were unaccounted or missing according to expected population trends.
- Hindus, who constituted between 15% and 24% of Pakistans population in 1947, now comprise less than 1.6% of the population.
- Nearly 2 million people, many of them Hindus, are held as slaves in bonded labor in southern Pakistan.
- Kidnapping of vulnerable Hindus is a well-established multi-million dollar industry.
- Pakistan officially discriminates against non-Muslims through a variety of laws and strictures. Discriminatory laws include the anti-blasphemy law under which anyone who is accused of criticizing the Prophet Muhammad is imprisoned without trial for long periods of time, and mandatory religious identification in passports. Specific discriminatory laws are the Hudood Ordinance of 1979 (offence of Zina, offence of Qazaf, execution of punishment of whipping ordinance), the Qanoon-i-Shahadat Order of 1984 and Qisas & Diyat Ordinance (Section 306 C) of 1991.
JAMMU & KASHMIR
- Over 300,000 Kashmiri Hindus have been forced to leave due to ethnic cleansing abetted by Kashmiri Muslims.
- These 300,000 Hindus are refugees in their own country, sheltered in temporary camps near Delhi and elsewhere.
- More than 3,000 Hindu civilians have been killed, and thousands more Hindu police and army personnel have succumbed to terrorist violence. There are virtually no Hindus left in the Kashmir Valley; they have all been driven out.
- Of these regions, Bangladesh represents an ongoing crisis for Hindus and is of utmost immediate concern.
- Human rights violations against Hindus are repeatedly ignored by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and government commissions like the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom that routinely fail to specifically highlight the plight of Hindus in regions where they comprise a minority.
- Minority and human rights commissions in these regions must be created and/or empowered to pressure the governments of these countries to provide security and uphold the rights of minority Hindus.
- The international community must compel the governments of Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India to respect the human rights of Hindus as an urgent priority.
HAF is a US non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization not aligned or affiliated with any political entity, party or organization. For further information, please visit http://www.hinduamericanfoundation.org/ or contact 904-424-9442