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2017 Hindu Human Rights Report Released by Hindu American Foundation (HAF) : Here is What you Need to Know!

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Hindu Human Rights Report
Hindu people. Wikimedia
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  • The Hindu American Foundation has launched its 2017 edition of “Hindus in South Asia & The Diaspora: A Survey of Human Rights” also known as the Hindu Human Rights Report
  • The Hindu American Foundation launched its first report in 2004 
  • It aims to highlight Human Rights violations against Hindu Diaspora in South Asia

June 20, 2017:

The Background

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) on Monday, 19th June 2017, launched their 2017 edition of “Hindus in South Asia & The Diaspora: A Survey of Human Rights” Report, also known as the Hindu Human Rights Report.

HAF is an advocacy organization that educated the public on Hinduism and the issues that affect Hindus worldwide. Since 2004, the HAF has published Reports on Hindu Human Rights. It seeks to highlight the threats that Hindus face in South Asia.

The research that goes into these reports is extensive. Allied organizations such as Global Human Rights Defense (GHRD), Bangladesh Minority Watch (BMW), the Indo-American Kashmir Forum, Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), Malaysian Hindu Foundation (MHF) and Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC), among many others provide the necessary information that is thus revealed in the reports.

The 2017 Report

The report observes Human Rights of Hindus violated across 9 countries and 1 Indian state where Hindus are in Minority. These are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Saudi Arabia, Trinidad and Tobago, and finally the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Out of these, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Islamic Republic of Bangladesh, and Malaysia are branded as “Egregious Violators” as they have constantly allowed the Human Rights violations of Hindus. Interestingly, the HAF had also recognized these same states as Egregious Violators in its 2016 report.

Afghanistan: Afghanistant faces numerous security threats and instability. The presence of Taliban and ISIS has officially led to the crisis of the country with the ongoing violence and Human Rights Violation. In a country where Islam is the dominant religion at 99.7%, the situation for the minorities in the country is apalling. The HAF 2017 Hindu Human Rights Report states the plight of minority groups. According to the report, “Hindus and Sikhs lack cremation rights and are often attacked and humiliated while trying to cremate their dead.”

The reports further add how Hindu and Sikh children in particular are faced by bullies and harassed for their religious beliefs. The parents live in constant fear that their daughters might be abducted and married off to a Muslim. Sikh and Hindus also face unemployment, particularly in the government sector.

Such conditions have drastically reduced the Hindu and Sikh population in Afghanistan. HAF estimates only 200 families remaining, as compared to 200,000 in 1970s.

Hindu Human rights report
Terror in Afghanistan has created insecurity especially for the minority groups. Wikimedia

Bangladesh: The report observes a significant increase in religiously motivated violence over the past few years. On Diwali day, 15 temples were reportedly ransacked. “The beheadings of Hindu priests and secular bloggers, abductions and conversions of Hindu girls, and forced occupation of minority owned lands also continued throughout the year unabated.” said the report.

The rise of Islamist terror groups has also worsened the situation. Extremist groups such as Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), al-Qaeda in the India subcontinent (AQIS), ISIS, Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) have created an atmosphere of instability and insecurity.

In an incident that was shameful to say the least, Islamist militants took hostages in a bakery. They asked the hostages to recite versions of the Koran and those that did not or could not were shot dead. 20 people were killed a a result of that.

The political elites of the country have been absolutely ignorant of the problem. The Awami League (AL) has not voiced any sympathy or answers to the problem. Rather, bloggers and journalists have been supressed.

The discrimination can be seen in the political representation as well. Religious minorities are underrepresentated. The Rapid Action Battallion (RAB) and other Bangladeshi forces are also accused of Human Right violations. “Extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, enforced disappearances, and torture of prisoners” is a frequent against the minorities.

The Hindu and Buddhists are thus distancing themselves from Bangladesh. Hindu population has declines from 31% to less than 10%.

Hindu Human Rights Report
Many Indians work in Bangladesh. Wikimedia

Pakistan: We have read about numerous cases of discrimination, assault and harassment against Hindus in Pakistan. The situation in 2016 was just as severe. The report states “Human rights and religious freedom conditions continued to deteriorate at an unprecedented rate in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 2016. Pakistan’s widespread violation of human rights and its toler- ance of human rights violations by non-state actors demonstrate a blatant disregard for international human rights norms and its obligations under human rights treaties and conventions.”

Forcer conversions of Hindu (or christianity) to Islam has continued in 2016. HAF estimate 1000 people abducted and converted last year. The abductions is even more brutal to the women who are married off to Muslims, raped or “sold”.

The report also notes the “depiction of non muslims in textbooks.” Children are often taught to reject pluralism. Hindus are also used in the insensitive bonded labor system. While the reports acknowledge Pakistan’s decision to pass Hindu Marriage Bill in March 2017 as a “positive step”, the militant problem remains unsolved.

The report also mentions the 1000 bodies of Baloch activists recovered in Balochistan province since past 6 years, highlighting the abuse of power and weapons by authorities and security forces.

Hindu Human Rights Report
The Pakistan Army controls the country. Wikimedia

Malaysia: Hindus continued to face economic marginalization due to the Bumiputra policy which favors the majority muslims. Malaysia’s constitution itself gives preference to Muslim majority. Furthermore, Islam is the official state religion of the country. Hindu temples have been demolished and Hindus have been forced to relocate in 2016. The Shariat law has been imposed on Hindus and other minority groups.

ISIS has also been able to garner support of the muslim majority in Malaysia. Minority groups have been suppressed. The LGBT activists have been abused by the men in power.

Hindu Human Rights Report
The Malaysian Army. Wikimedia

The Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir: Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir has seen escalating violence and conflict, especially since the death of Burhan Wahi (commander of Hizbul Mujahideen). Kashmiri Pandits have been the target in this political unrest. We know of the incidents in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, but even in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, human rights violations have given rise to Kashmiri Pandit activists. The tense situation has prompted a remark from US State Department which raised concerns over the issue.

The reports also note how ISI and Pakistan sponsor terrorism and fuel violence. Hindus have sought refuge in other parts of the country where social and economic conditions for them are deplorable.

Hindu Human Rights report
Stone Pelters in Kashmir. VOA

These were the Egrogious States. Five more nations commit human rights violations against Hindus. The HAF explores these violations and addresses them extensively. It ennumerates various policy reforms that can further the objective of co-existence. The full report can be found on the HAF website. The 2017 report has dsicussed crucial topics such as refugee problem, growing islamist terror, discrimination in political and economic sphere, religion hate crimes and violence against women.

It becomes important to address these issues especially since Hinduism is about pluralism and dignity.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394

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Copyright 2017 NewsGram

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Pakistan’s Court Summons TV Team for ‘Disrespecting’ Valentine’s Day Ban

On February 14, Geo TV’s popular Report Card show dedicated a 15-minute segment to discussing the justification of the court’s ban on Valentine’s Day coverage and celebrations

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People buy flowers to celebrate Valentine's Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 14, 2018. Pakistan's media regulatory authority, acting on a court order, has instructed all news channels, radio stations and print media to refrain from promoting Valentine's Day. VOA

A Pakistani court has summoned several TV reporters from the country’s largest private TV station over accusations of “ridiculing” last year’s ruling that barred Valentine’s Day celebrations and its media coverage across the country.

On February 14, Geo TV’s popular Report Card show dedicated a 15-minute segment to discussing the justification of the court’s ban on Valentine’s Day coverage and celebrations.

Two of the panelists in the show questioned the rationale for the ban.

Hasan Nisar, a prominent Lahore-based political analyst, declared the restrictions “illogical” and “ridiculous” for society.

“I do not even have anything to say on it, it’s funny,” Nisar said.

Echoing Nisar, Imtiaz Alam, a leading reporter and panelist of the show, said the restrictions were “useless.”

“How can the court interfere as it is against the fundamental rights of the people? Do we have Taliban regime in Pakistan?” Alam asked.

“This is a cultural martial law and curfew to enforce the extreme ideologies. This is a sick mindset, and the moral policing through PEMRA [Pakistan Electronic Media Authority] is shameless,” Alam said.

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Valentine's Day
People buy flowers to celebrate Valentine’s Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 14, 2018. Pakistan’s media regulatory authority, acting on a court order, has instructed all news channels, radio stations and print media to refrain from promoting Valentine’s Day. VOA

Court order

Last year, on February 13, Islamabad’s High Court declared Valentine’s Day celebration un-Islamic and imposed a ban on any public or official celebrations.

The government reinstated the ban for a second consecutive year earlier this month to comply with the court’s ruling.

PEMRA also issued a fresh directive to remind its TV and radio licensees to refrain from promoting the day on their stations.

“Respondents are directed to ensure that nothing about the celebrations of Valentine’s Day and its promotion is spread on the electronic and print media,” PEMRA’s notification reads.

On charges of failing to adhere to the court’s order and PEMRA’s instruction, Islamabad court summoned the Geo TV host, two guests and the chief executive officer of the station to appear before the court next week and defend themselves in a contempt-of-court case.

“This act of the host and the participants apparently is tainted with malafide, ulterior motives, aims to undermine the authority of the court and to disrespect the order passed by the court, which clearly comes within the definition of the contempt of court,” the court said, according to local media.

The ban on Valentine’s Day celebrations and sensitivity toward it are not new in Pakistan. Some political and religious groups, such as Jamaat-i-Islami, have carried out rallies and protests against the celebration of the day, declaring it “unethical and un-Islamic.”

There have been instances in the past where local authorities prohibited the February 14 festivities in different cities across the nation.

In 2016, President Mamnoon Hussain also warned Pakistanis to stay away from celebrating Valentine’s Day, declaring it was “not a part of Muslim tradition, but of the West.”

ALSO READ: If You Are Going Single Into This Valentine’s Day Then These Tweets Will Lift Your Spirit

Valentine's Day
A couple buys flowers to celebrate Valentine’s Day, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Feb. 13, 2017. A Pakistani judge has banned Valentine’s Day celebrations in the country’s capital, saying they are against Islamic teachings. VOA

General debate

Valentine’s celebrations have increased in Pakistan over the last decade, particularly among the country’s youth.

The enforcement of the ban on its celebration and media coverage for a second consecutive year has sparked a larger debate among some of the country’s liberal and conservative circles.

A section of the society defends the celebrations and considers them harmless, though for others the day does not have any place in their religious practices or their traditions.

Pakistan, for the most part, is a conservative Muslim society. Public displays of affection are not the norm and often are viewed as unacceptable.

But some Pakistanis, like Saleema Hashmi, a Lahore-based artist, and renowned educator, believe the system is focusing on “irrelevant issues” at the expense of more important and pressing issues the country faces.

“Don’t our courts have better things to do instead of passing rulings on celebrating a mere romantic day?” she asked. “I do not understand how celebrating or denouncing Valentine’s Day can impact our religion, traditions, social or cultural norms.” (VOA)