The 194 page report, now in its sixth year, entitled “Hindus in South Asia and the Diaspora, A Survey of Human Rights 2009,” is the only such report released internationally. Censuring eleven countries for either targeting Hindus to further religious and political agendas or failing to ensure equal rights and protections, the report is widely read by government officials and lawmakers here and earned spirited responses and denials from the American embassies of several countries indicted in the past.
“This annual report documents human rights violations of Hindus throughout South Asia and in countries that do not share values of democracy, pluralism and freedom,” said U.S. Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA) after reviewing the Foundation’s report. “By spotlighting which nations do not live up to these standards, nonprofit organizations like HAF stand up for the basic dignity and human rights for all people of faith and for free thought.”
“Our effort started with the belief that Hindu minorities were silent and unknown victims in Bangladesh, Pakistan and elsewhere, and documenting their realities has grown into a full time endeavor,” said Ramesh Rao, Ph.D., the Foundation’s human rights researcher and coordinator.”This year, the arrival of thousands of Hindu refugees from Bhutan brings a human face to the issues too many encounter simply because of their ethnicity and Hindu faith.”
- School textbooks continue to promote Islam and hatred and intolerance towards non-Muslims, including Hindus.
- Islamists continue to extend their influence throughout the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and other parts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).
- Recurring reports point to an alarming trend of Hindu girls being kidnapped, raped, held in madrassas (Islamic seminaries) and forcibly converted to Islam.
- Poor Hindus continue to be subjected to inhumane conditions through the bonded labor system.
- Pakistan should remove all blasphemy laws. Those imprisoned under blasphemy laws should get their day in court within a period of two weeks. Long imprisonments without court appraisal constitute human rights abuse.
- Pakistan should reverse the 2005 decision mandating religious identification in passports.
- Pakistan should set up a Human Rights Commission and a National Minorities Commission to monitor the human rights condition and to enable minorities to enjoy the rights provided to the majority population.
- Pakistan should reform its education system in order to remove inaccuracies about other religions and promote tolerance and pluralism.
- The United States should demand that Pakistan stop supporting and financing all Islamic militant groups operating in the subcontinent. The United States must end all military assistance to Pakistan.
- The United States should continue dialogue with Pakistan on the issues of human rights and religious freedom and dispatch a fact-finding committee organized by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to Pakistan.