Hindus in other parts of the globe consistently face discrimination and human rights violations in countries where they are either residents or citizens. In its report of 2006, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has documented the problems of Hindu minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Fiji, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Trinidad & Tobago.
The report also documents the problems that Hindus face in India'sJammu & Kashmir, but there is inexplicable silence about the real and perceived discrimination faced by Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs) in America and other Western countries. At precisely the moment the HAF report was being released to the media, Sikh construction workers in America had joined a legal battle with Western employers to protest against unpaid wages of several years, discriminatory hire and fire policies, unsafe working conditions in the form of absence of safety equipment, and a host of other issues. In Britain, Indian (mainly Hindu) doctors invited by the government to settle there are unwelcome on account of the unconquerable racism of British society, and may now find themselves thrown out on the pretext of the Bangalore links of Indian Muslim doctors.
Nearly twenty million Hindus live outside India, and find themselves subject to discrimination, terror, murder and other forms of violence, including forced conversions, ethnic cleansing, destruction of temples, socio-political ostracization and disenfranchisement. Politicians and governments of many countries engage in hate speech and myriad forms of discrimination against ethnic minorities.
In Afghanistan, the ancient Hindu community dates back to the earliest recorded history, the Vedic Age, approximately between 3000 BCE and 1000 BCE. Yet Hindu temples destroyed by the Taliban have not been rebuilt, many temples are still occupied by Muslim groups, and no Hindu places of worship exist today. Afghan Hindus who were forced into exile during Taliban rule are not being provided with any basic facilities for resettlement if they return. The governments of Britain and Germany are pressurising Hindu Afghans to return, when the resurgence of Taliban outside of Kabul has rendered remaining Hindu families extremely vulnerable. Hindu families cannot even send their children to public schools for fear of persecution and ridicule.
Positioning the United States as world leader for inexplicable reasons, the HAF has asked it, jointly with the international community, to exert pressure on Germany and Britain to stop involuntary deportation of Hindu refugees from their territory to Afghanistan. HAF wants India to provide visas and adequate financial support to settle the refugees. It demands the restoration of Hindu temples and institutions in Afghanistan, but does not say who these will serve if Afghanistan'sminority population is planning to leave anyway. Finally, it argues that Pakistan must be discouraged from supporting resurgent Taliban as this will further destabilize Afghanistan to the detriment of Hindus and other minorities.
Hindus comprised 30 percent of Bangladesh'spopulation in 1947, but today constitute less than 10 percent. By 1991, as many as 20 million Hindus were reported as ?missing? from the country. Bangladeshi Hindus even today continue to be victims of ethnic cleaning at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists, and incidents of rape, murder, kidnappings, physical violence, and iconoclasm are daily occurrences. Human rights activists and honest journalists are terrorised and often driven out of the country. In just nine months of 2006, for which data is available, there have been 461 incidents of murder, rape, kidnappings, temple destruction, and land grabing, targeting Hindus.
A formidable 44 per cent of the 2.7 million Hindu households have been adversely affected by the Enemy Property Act 1965 and its post-independence version, the Vested Property Act 1974. Individuals with links to the Bangladesh National Party (BNP)-Islamist party alliance in power between 2001 and 2006 became beneficiaries of over 45 per cent of lands confiscated from Hindus under the outrageous Vested Property Act. HAF urges the interim Bangladesh regime to ensure an end to attacks upon Hindus and exemplary action against their assailants. Anti-minority laws such as the Vested Property Act must be repealed and land restored to the rightful owners. Western donor countries should ensure that such measures are undertaken! This constant reliance upon the West discredits the report, as it is prone to misuse by countries seeking to advance their strategic and corporate interests.
Bhutan has been criticised for evicting one lakh Hindu and Buddhist citizens in the early 1990s; most are living in Nepal, though there are some in India also. The Fiji Islands are a Christian majority state with a 34 per cent Hindu population, and Hindus are constantly subject to hate speech and assaults on their temples. The Methodist Church of Fiji wants to create a Christian State. In Kazakhstan, Hindus are a small minority amidst Sunni Muslim and Russian Orthodox Church followers. Here, Hindus with allegiance to the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) are being intimidated by Kazakh authorities.
Malaysia has also come under the HAF radar as a country where minorities have to struggle to retain their religious identities. Hindu temples have been destroyed, and mosques are given precedence in the allocation of public funds and lands. Pakistan, of course, has taken its Hindu population from 25 percent in 1947 to an abysmal 1.6 percent today, and openly discriminates against non-Muslims through blasphemy laws. These have actually been invoked against the country'sChristian population, rather than against Hindus. Hence this mention in the HAF reports leads to the suspicion that it may be catering to other-than-Hindu agendas.
Saudi Arabia, where Hindus go only to work rather than to settle as citizens, is targetted for a system of identity cards that identifies holders as ?Muslim? or ?non-Muslim.? It does not permit the practice of other faiths upon its soil, which is well known and accepted by Hindus visiting the kingdom.
Here again, HAF is lending itself as a tool of US foreign policy, which undermines the purpose and efficacy of the report, especially when America is constantly invoked to ensure freedom in countries that are likely to be targets of its oil-hungry corporates. HAF appears to be entirely unaware of the atrocities being perpetrated in Iraq and other countries where US has a military presence (e.g. Philippines), and the evangelical-imperial project – Joshua project – that is menacing Hindu dharma in India.