Hindus are facing violence, social persecution and marginalisation in countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh where they are in minority, according to a report by a top Hindu-American body. The Hindu America Foundation (HAF), in its annual report on Hindus in South Asia and The Diaspora, said Hindu minorities living in countries throughout South Asia and other parts of the world are subject to varying degrees of legal and institutional discrimination, restrictions on their religious freedom, social prejudice, violence, social persecution and economic and political marginalisation. “Hindu women are especially vulnerable and face kidnappings and forced conversions in countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan. In several countries where Hindus are minorities, non-state actors advance a discriminatory and exclusivist agenda, often with the tacit or explicit support of the state,” said the report released early this week at the US Capitol.
In the report, HAF lists Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Pakistan as “egregious violators” of human rights of Hindu minorities. Bhutan and Sri Lanka have been identified as countries of serious concern. The report also placed Jammu and Kashmir state in the same category. Fiji, Saudi Arabia and Trinidad and Tobago have been placed in the category of monitored countries. “Persecution by state and non-state actors alike has led a growing number of Hindus to flee their country of origin and live as refugees,” the report said. The twelfth annual report documents the challenges facing Hindu minorities in ten nations and regions throughout the world and makes policy recommendations to improve conditions for these populations as well steps the US can take to assist with this.
Hindus, numbering over one billion (1.03 billion), constitute the third largest religious group in the world. The HAF at its 14th annual Capitol Hill Reception honoured Charles Haynes, vice president of the Newseum Institute and Director of the Religious Freedom Center, with the Mahatma Gandhi Award for the advancement of religious pluralism. HAF executive director Suhag Shukla described Haynes “as accomplished as he is humble” and noted that religious liberty in the US and awareness about the First Amendment has been profoundly shaped by his deeply committed and principled leadership. A number of US lawmaker attended the HAF’s Capitol Hill Reception early this week. Prominent among them were Raja Krishnamoorthi, Michael Coffman, Eric Swalwell, Pete Olson, Judy Chu, Sheila Jackson Lee and Darren Soto.