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Discrimination Against Hindus Worldwide in 2006

The nearly one billion Hindus constitute the third largest religious group in the world. The Hindu Diaspora has grown beyond the Indian sub-continent to compromise an important minority in numerous countries around the world. Unfortunately, Hindus continue to face a litany of human rights abuses in many of these countries.

Among the countries detailed in the report, Bangladesh poses the direst threat for its Hindu minority. With Islamic fundamentalism on the rise in Bangladesh’s political arena, the rights of minorities erode at a rapid pace. Bangladesh persists on enforcing the Enemy Property Act (EPA) and Vested Property Act (VPA), which identify Hindus as “enemies” of the state and confiscates their property. The murder, kidnapping and rape of Hindu and tribal women, forcible conversions of Hindu girls to Islam, attacks on Hindu temples, and confiscation of Hindu property continued in 2006 as it did the previous year. There were a total of 461 documented incidents of human rights abuse against Hindus for the 9 months for which we have data for 2006. An exact number of human rights violations is difficult to obtain as many abuses go unreported to authorities out of fear or hopelessness.

While Hindus have inhabited present day Afghanistan for thousands of years, they number significantly less than 1% of the population today. Many left the country during the years of Taliban rule and those that continue to live there, face dire conditions. Hindu shops, temples, and schools have been usurped or demolished and the government has refused to allocate land to Hindus in order to rebuild their lives. A lack of government funding and educated teachers has led to a desperate need of schools. The small expatriate Afghan Hindu community is being pressured to return to Afghanistan despite a lack of facilities and turbulent conditions that make the country unsafe for their arrival.

Although approximately 34% of the population in Fiji is Hindu, the Hindu community still faces intolerance in the forms of anti-Hindu speeches and violence in the form of temple destruction. Between 2001 and April 2005, 100 cases of temple attacks have been registered with the police. Official reports suggest that attacks on Hindu institutions increased by 14% from 2004. The Methodist Church of Fiji propagates hatred against Hindus by repeatedly calling for the creation of a theocratic Christian State and objecting to the constitutional protection of minorities. Meanwhile, the current government continues to favor Christians over Hindus and Muslims by granting preferential treatment to members of the Christian community.

The Hindu population in Pakistan has seen a dramatic and worrisome decline since the country’s partition with India—and respect of basic human rights of Hindus has followed the same trajectory of decline. Since Pakistan has proclaimed itself to be an Islamic Republic, the rights of minorities such as Hindus, Christians, and Ahmadiyyas have been abused through law and by the use of threats, kidnappings, murders, and rapes. Hindu temples are looted and desecrated, and Hindu property is usurped without any reprisal for the perpetrators. Violence against women is rampant in the forms of rape, honor killings, and domestic abuse. In Pakistan, a woman is raped every two hours on average and at least ten women per day die in honor killings. Women are also subjugated the Hudood Ordinances, which require a female rape victim to present four male witnesses to the crime or risk being whipped for adultery. More recently, Hindu girls as young as 12 have been kidnapped, forcibly converted Islam, and forced to marry Muslim boys. Discrimination against Hindus is propagated to Pakistan’s youth through government-sponsored textbooks that depict Hindus as cruel and the enemy of Islam.

Pakistan-sponsored Islamic militants have driven over 300,000 Hindus out of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. These same militants have threatened to kill any Hindu that dares to return to the Kashmir Valley. Currently, these Kashmiri Hindus are living like refugees in their own country in deplorable conditions. As there are no longer many Hindus left in the Kashmir Valley of India, documenting human rights abuses is near impossible.

This year our report was expanded to include Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago.

Kazakhstan has not only failed to recognize the existence of a small Hindu minority in the country, but the Government has actively attacked Hindu institutions and confiscated and destroyed Hindu property. Malaysia has witnessed seventy-six separate Hindu temple destructions and desecrations, and the Government’s flagrant posthumous deidentification of Hindu citizens in numerous cases makes Malaysia a country of grave concern for concerned human rights groups everywhere. The government of Bhutan is complacent in its refugee crisis, which predominantly affects Hindus. Sri Lanka continues to silently stand witness to an intractable ethnic conflict with little to no constructive action. Saudi Arabia is unresponsive to the rights of migrant workers and to any need for even basic religious freedom, and continues to support a militant and fundamentalist brand of Islam that does not tolerate other religions.

This report is the first comprehensive documentation, with historical context, of the systemic religious and cultural ostracization Hindus face in Trinidad and Tobago. As in the Fiji Islands, Hindus comprise nearly half the population of Trinidad and Tobago. Hindus are a visible population who should have fair and equal representation at all levels of governance. Instead, Hindus have become an easy target for rank exploitation and violence. Evidence that church leadership in these nations — the Methodist Church in Fiji and the Baptist and Evangelical churches in Trinidad and Tobago — may be supporting a blurring of the religion and state divide enshrined in those nation’s Constitutions is serious cause for concern.

The United States, the international community and the United Nations should bring pressure on all the countries identified in this report, which claim to support human rights and provide freedom of religion through their Constitutions, to take serious and immediate action to end discrimination against Hindus as well as other minorities. Despite the text of their Constitutions and their signatures on UN Covenants, the countries reported here continue to violate the human rights of minorities, particularly Hindus.

Source : Hindustan.org

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