Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Is this the year when the US exposes Bangladesh for what it is?

People who have any ground-up familiarity with Bangladesh find the notion of it as a "moderate" country laughable.  It's an idea that springs forth from elites in the diplomatic corps, academia, the media, and leftists everywhere.  It's not a notion that has any relation to what is actually happening there.

For decades, radical Islamists have taken over one social institution after another, including education, banking, even the law.  Perhaps the most tragic irony of calling Bangladesh moderate, though, is how it receives the title while allowing or even participating in the systematic elimination of its non-Muslim minorities.  My own focus is Bangladesh's Hindu community, which has fallen from almost a fifth of the population at Bangladesh's birth in 1971 to perhaps as few as one in 15 today. During that time, we have received ongoing reports of anti-Hindu atrocities including murder, rape and gang rape, child abduction, forced conversion, religious desecration, land seizures, and more.  But minorities face attacks in many nations.  The situation in Bangladesh becomes a human rights atrocity that deserves international intervention because Bangladeshi governments regardless of party have refused to prosecute all but a few cases; they have enabled it and still do.

Those who believed the current, Awami League government would be different were wrong.  During its first term in office, major anti-Hindu atrocities occurred at or over an average of one per week.  There were especially horrendous periods, such as a nine-day span May 2012 that included a murder in broad daylight, a child abduction, and two rapes (one of a child on her way to a Hindu religious festival).  While my tabulation is not final yet, the situation in 2013 and so far in 2014 appears no better.  Not only has the government refused to help retrieving abducted women and children; in many cases, its officials participated in the crimes.

These are only the crimes I verified myself; many more were reported, which my limited resources did not let me investigate.  All of them were confirmed by at least independent witnesses, occurred under the Awami League government, were not prosecuted, and were targeted specifically against Hindus and Hinduism.

Organizations like the Hindu American Foundation have been publicizing Bangladesh's ill-treatment of Hindus for years.  Bangladeshi human rights giant, Rabindra Ghosh, has been investigating and documenting it for at least that long.  Yet, people who can do something about it seem to want to hold on to their fairy tale about a moderate Bangladesh, truth be damned.  Until now.  I am currently involved in initiatives in multiple international capitals that would restrict Bangladesh’s ability to sell its exports, provide UN peacekeeping troops, and otherwise maintain its current economy as long as it is the economic engine that drives the ethnic cleansing of Hindus and other minorities.

The US House Foreign Affairs Committee (one of the most powerful) and its Chairman Congressman Ed Royce have been working with me to hold hearings this year on Bangladesh's ethnic cleansing of Hindus.


Mount Prospect, Illinois (just outside of Chicago) recently became the first US city to issue a formal proclamation recognizing Bangladesh's ethnic cleansing of Hindus; we expect more localities to follow, and expect them to be the basis for action depriving Bangladesh of the income it uses to maintain its persecution of minorities.


Bi-partisan representatives of Members of the US Congress have let the US Commission on International Religious Freedom know that they can no longer give Bangladesh a pass on its human rights violations because it threw off military rule over six years ago.


At least three major NGOs have asked me to work with them on the issue of Bangladesh's Hindus.


And just this week, some Congressional aides asked if they could help me get the matter before the US House's human rights commission.


Bangladesh depends on the tacit complicity of other by way of their silence.  Once the matter is out in the open, companies that currently purchase their goods will not want to be associated with ethnic cleansing; the UN would not have peacekeepers who cannot even keep the peace within their own borders; and the Awami League government will actually have to do something rather than mouth empty platitudes.  Stay tuned because we expect a lot to happen in the near future to change this debate forever.

Post Script:  In a recent human rights mission, I saw first hand that Bangladesh has been exporting its anti-Hindu jihad across the border to West Bengal and Assam states in India. Its large scale infiltration is also causing an environmental disaster in Assam that we expect to address this year as well.  My advice to Bangladesh's leaders:  take action before others force action upon you; and recognize that once you lose those international markets, others will step into the void and you will never re-gain your previous position if you later decide to do the right thing.  Just do it now.

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Saturday, January 04, 2014

H.R. 417 Anti-India; Harmful to US-India Relations

The year 2014 begins with a particularly pernicious and irresponsible piece of legislation circulating the United States Congress.  It is H.R. 417 which begins by praising India but follows with nothing but propaganda and mischaracterizations that could set back US-India relations by decades.  The resolution singles out India as a nation that regularly tolerates attacks on minorities, while its backers would never think of calling out the worst violators of minority rights including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.  Moreover, I have been in India for about a month every year, and every time I've been there, there has been at least one terrorist attack and anti-religious action.  Not one of them has been perpetrated against a minority, but every single one has been perpetrated against the majority Hindu community.


H.R. 417 is also presumptuous and ethnocentric.  India has enacted and enforced a plethora of laws that protect minorities; some might even say advantage them.  417 additionally singles out one of India's two major candidates for Prime Minister and accuses him of racism and atrocities. What's wrong with that?  First, it's not true.  Second, Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has been cleared again and again of any wrongdoing, including being cleared by India's Supreme Court, which has stellar reputation internationally.  How insulting for a group of people half way around the world, who have not seen a tenth of the evidence reviewed by India's Supreme Court, to presume that they know better due to some sort of entitlement!  And consider this:  Right now, it looks more likely than not that Narendra Modi will be India's next Prime Minister.  How do we--a nation that welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin and whose President bows to the Saudi King--apologize for that insult and make relations whole again?

The Hindu American Foundation has uncovered the biased motives of the group behind H.R. 417, the misnomered Committee Against Genocide, as well as its discredited information, and anti-Hindu hatred.  See The Coalition Against Genocide:  A Nexus of Hinduphobia Unveiled.

You can help stop this dangerous and prejudiced bill by contacting your Representative in Congress and urging or demanding that he or she oppose the resolution.  If your Representative is already a co-sponsor, urge him or her to do as Congressman Steve Chabot did who withdrew his co-sponsorship when he was apprised of the facts.  You can find your Congressman or Congresswoman through this site.

Hindu Genocide Museum Proposed

A group of concerned citizens from several areas across the United States are looking to build a museum dedicated to educating people about the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Hindus in places like Pakistan, Bangladesh, and elsewhere.  The effort is in the early stages, but we know that the intention is to pattern the museum after the holocaust museums commemorating the Nazi attempt to wipe out the Jewish people.  More to come on this.

To help with any of these or other efforts, please email me.

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Sunday, December 01, 2013

Something easy you can do to help save 15 million Bangladeshi Hindus

As we have been reporting here and elsewhere, we seem to be turning a corner in our struggle to stop the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh.  A US locality has officially recognized this human rights atrocity (you can help get your own to do the same -- contact me), two human rights NGOs are looking at the matter seriously, USCIRF has admitted that this is a serious issue for religious freedom in Bangladesh, and more of official Washington is taking notice even while our foreign policy is focused on Iran and the Middle East--and that is where you can help.

The House Foreign Affiars Committee, under the leadership of its Chairman, Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA), is giving serious consideration to holding hearings on the issue.  Its Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, under its Chairman, Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH), and the leadership of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is moving close as well.  SAVING BANGLADESH'S  HINDUS FROM THEIR OWN NEIGHBORS AND GOVERNMENT IS A MATTER OF DEEPLY-HELD AND SHARED VALUES THAT HAS OVERCOME PARTISAN DIFFERENCES.  Divisions between Democrats and Republicans have evaporated here.

Members of Congress are sensitive to their constituents' concerns.  If they hear from you, they will recognize that this is an important issue in itself and an issue that is important to their constituents.  You can put us over the top by calling or faxing them.  (Emails are not very effective.)

"I am a constituent of [Congressman or Congresswoman _____________] and want to express my strong support for hearings on the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh.  Hindus have been reduced from almost a fifth of the country to less than eight percent through racists laws and ongoing atrocities that the government refuses to prosecute.  As [Congressman or Congresswoman __________] is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I urge [him or her] to support hearings on this human rights atrocity that the Committee is considering.  Thank you."

If you are contacting Ed Royce, instead of calling him a "member," refer to him as "the chairman." If you are contacting Eliot Engel, "refer to him as "the ranking Democrat," rather than a "member."

To find out if your Congressional Representative is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, go to this site.  You can also email me.

With this simple action, YOU can make a huge difference.  Thank you.

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Friday, November 01, 2013

Progress in the Fight to Save Bangladesh's Hindus

As Bangladesh slips further into anarchy, approaching its first scheduled elections since changing the constitutional process for them; we are seeing both increased violence against Hindus in Bangladesh, allowed to continue with impunity by Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League government; and progress in the fight to stop the ethnic cleansing of Hindus from the United States.

People do bad things--and especially gross human rights violations--because they believe that no one will notice or even care.  This is what has enabled successive Bangladesh governments to allow their Hindus citizens to be brutalized with impunity.  That is changing, however, and promises to hit the Bangladeshis where they can least afford it if they do not put an end to this "Quiet Case of Ethnic Cleansing."

Bangladesh's ability to attract international donations, provide UN peacekeeping troop, and sell its garments on the international market depend on the continued belief that Bangladesh is a moderate nation that does not persecute its minorities--both of which are contrary to the facts.  Now, from the United States, a major player for all of those goodies, comes the following over the past several months:

  • Staff for two Congressmen--one Democrat, one Republican--approached the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) about focusing on the ethnic cleansing of Hindus when making its determination.  USCIRF agreed, and I am working on follow up.
  • The US House Foreign Affairs Committee is looking seriously into the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh and working with me on it.
  • The Chicago suburb of Mount Prospect recently became the first US locality to formally recognize the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh.  More such proclamations are expected from other localities.
  • Two major US organizations dedicated to the fight against genocide and associated with no political causes, are now looking closely into the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh.
The European Parliament, representing another major force on which Bangladesh depends, is currently considering an extensive report about that nation's complicity in the persecution of its Hindu citizens.

If Bangladesh officials continue to think that people will accept their blanket and disingenuous denials of responsibility, they are mistaken.  Already, questions are arising about how donations, peacekeeping receipts, and the purchase of Bangladeshi goods support the ethnic cleansing of Hindus.

Those questions are only getting louder.

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Sunday, September 01, 2013

Hometown Proclamations shed light on Bangladesh's oppression of Hindus

UPDATE:  On October 1, 2013, Mount Prospect, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, did issue the proclamation noted in this post and thereby became the first US locality to recognize the oppression of Hindus in Bangladesh.  We expect this to be the first of many.  Click here.

The late US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once noted that "Sunlight is said to be the greatest disinfectant."  His words told us that evil deeds will be opposed and stopped if people are made aware of them.  This is our challenge in stopping the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh.  Our most recent success in doing that is working with cities, towns, and villages throughout the US to have formal proclamations issued that recognize this human rights travesty.

Every citizen has the right to approach his or her town with a passionate request for them to help save 12 to 15 million innocent lives--innocents who are being brutalized while an unconcerned "civilized" world turns the other way.  Every locality in the US has the ability to help save these lives, and each of us can be the major driver of that effort.

Most people do not think of themselves as heroes.  Imagine how you would see yourself if you played an important role in saving millions of people!

We have the evidence, sample proclamations, and the necessary understandings so that your approaches will resonate with your home town.  Right now, we are working to issue proclamations around Durga Puja, October 9-13, 2013; if there is not enough time, Diwali is November 3-7, 2013.  You have a chance to save lives and honor Hinduism and the growing number of Hindus in the United States.

We are operating in several places.  If you want to join in this effort, contact me at drrbenkin@comcast.net.

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Thursday, August 01, 2013

Bangladeshi Human Rights Giant, Rabindra Ghosh, attacked; Demand Action



On July 27, 2013, human rights activist, Rabindra Ghosh and his colleague were attacked, poisoned, and needed emergency medical care to save their lives.  Thus far, the Bangladeshi government has taken no action to find and punish the perpetrators.

Ghosh and his colleague, Ganesh Rajongshi, were returning from one human rights fact-finding trip in Khulna and reached Natore, where they were to investigate another case of anti-Hindu activity.  At that point, a group of perpetrators attacked them with some sort of poison; and emergency personnel had to rush them, unconscious, to Natore Sadar Hospital. Rajbongshi remained unconscious and had to be transferred to Rajshahi Medical College on the Indian border.  Doctors said his condition was precarious.  Both men are still receiving medical care for their injuries.

The incident has been confirmed and published in at least three Bangladeshi newspapers.

Ghosh has been attacked by Islamist radicals and government operatives on several occasions, including May and June of last year.  In April 2012, Ghosh’s 87 year old mother was attacked in retaliation for his unrelenting human rights actions.  None of the perpetrators were ever punished.

In light of the Bangladeshi government’s history of allowing attacks on Rabindra Ghosh to go unpunished, documented cases where government operatives warned human rights activists to stop investigating cases of anti-Hindu human rights abuses, and the decades-long ethnic cleansing of Hindus that the Bangladeshi government tacitly supports; it is clear that Rabindra Ghosh and Ganesh Rajongshi cannot expect justice from the Bangladeshi government without outside intervention.

Justice’s best chance will come if those receiving this release contact their US Senators and Members of Congress and ask them to send a formal letter of inquiry to the Bangladeshi embassy in Washington.  Ask them to inquire (formally) about the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators, as well as government actions to protect Rabindra Ghosh and other human rights activists from attacks by radicals and government operatives.

I have worked with lawmakers before and am happy to supply needed information, a mocked up sample letter, or anything else they might need.  I know both victims personally and have traveled with them to investigate anti-Hindu actions throughout Bangladesh; I can vouch for their integrity and the integrity of their cause.  If you need help with contact information for your Senator or Member of Congress, contact me or go to:  http://www.contactingthecongress.org/.

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Saturday, June 01, 2013

Effort to Save Bangladesh's Hindus Gaining Ground

On May 28, 2013, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) executives and activists spread across Capitol Hill in Washington to urge US lawmakers to act to stop the oppression and slaughter of Hindus in Bangladesh.   HAF has been documenting atrocities against Hindus in the small but heavily populated South Asian country annually for several years.  (Bangladesh is the only nation to rank among the world's ten most populous and the ten  most densely populated nations.)

Samir Kalra, HAF Director and Senior Fellow for Human Rights, has noted that "according to Odhikar, a Bangladeshi human rights group, there were nearly 1,200 incidents of violence directed against religious minorities (mostly Hindus) between 2008 and 2011"; and that "Islamic extremism is not a fringe phenomenon" in Bangladesh.  The period Kalra cites, by the way, all transpired under the rule of the supposedly "pro-minority" Awami League, which like its predecessors has not prosecuted crimes against Hindus.

HAF's efforts come on top of my own to educate Senators and Members of Congress about the human rights travesty perpetrated on Bangladesh's 15 million Hindus.  Last year, I confronted Bangladesh's ambassador to the United States, who tried to deny the evidence with nonsensical responses, like Hindus "cannot find suitable matches for their children, so they go to India where there are more Hindus" in perhaps the most ridiculous attempt yet to explain why Hindus have gone from a third of Bangladesh's population to under eight percent.  In February of this year, I similarly confronted Bangladesh's Home Minister in Dhaka, the nation's capital, who fared no better.  He was left with responses like "33 people were killed in Connecticut," "union membership is declining in the United States," and "I have seen the enclaves of the Red Indians" as his lame attempt to justify his government's complicity in ethnic cleansing.  He also promised to investigate any evidence I sent him--which I found rather strange, and asked him why the Home Minister in the nation's capital is dependent on "some guy from Chicago" for information about hate crimes in his own country.

All of this was dutifully reported to members of both the US House and Senate, several of whom are looking at initiatives to stop the ethnic cleansing of Bangladesh's Hindus.  These US lawmakers are prominent on committees that control trade policy (critical to Bangladesh's economy), foreign relations, aid, and funding for the UN.  The latter is important because Bangladesh supplies the largest contingent of UN peacekeepers of any nation and is dependent on those receipts--so dependent in fact, that the military's fear of losing this cash cow was the proximate cause of its 2007 military coup.

Look, no one is looking to hurt the Bangladeshi people; their government does a thorough enough job of that itself.  But if the government of Bangladesh will not act to stop the ethnic cleansing of its Hindu citizens, the rest of the world must.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

US Should Grant Modi a Visa before it is too late

Imagine the following scenario.  It is mid-year 2014, and India has just sworn in its new Prime Minister--an individual committed to achieving for India its rightful place as an international economic and political giant.  A pro-growth PM, he will likely preside over the time when India's eclipses China as the world's most populous nation; and he has made it clear that this new India will stand for the values we Americans espouse against the forces of international authoritarianism.

The US Ambassador congratulates the Indian people on their new leader, talks about the strong relationship between India and the United States, and extends a hand to the new Prime Minister.  The PM politely accepts it but with a knowing smile of contempt and wondering about my country's duplicity and whether or not we will be a true friend to this resurgent India.

Although the Indian elections are almost a year away, polls and pundits are confident that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will become the nation's next PM.  As of today, the US government maintains its position that Narendra Modi is disqualified from receiving a visa to visit the United States; that he was somehow involved in the 2002 Gujarat riots in which over 1000 Hindus and Muslims died.  It is an odd position for us to take sitting atop our perch halfway around the world when people close to the ground have exonerated Modi of any such charges multiple times.

Although the Indian Supreme Court has declared Modi innocent of any wrongdoing, the US State Department, politicians, and self-interested ideologues believe that they know better and dismiss the court's actions.  I'm not sure what happened to our hallowed principle that people are innocent until proven guilty, but it seems we do not apply it in Naredra Modi's case.  Last week, the Indian legal system began the process of hearing the final gasp of Modi's detractors who are demanding that the court reject its own body's final report on their say-so.  It is not certain when it will dispose of this final stab at Modi, but as soon as it happens, the United States government would be wise to announce that if Narendra Modi wants to apply for a visa he will get one; that the charges against him have not been proven despite multiple attempt; that we have listened to those who slandered Narendra Modi's good name.

It is not only an insult to Modi himself and to the millions of Indians--Hindus and Muslims--who have made him Gujarat's longest serving Chief Minister, and one of its most successful.  In maintaining our baseless visa denial, we are declaring in one fell swoop that the entire Indian legal system is without merit; that the highly respected judges on its Supreme Court do not know what they are doing.  Is this how we treat a friend and ally?

My country has made peace with some of the worst world leaders imaginable:  Joseph Stalin who the Roosevelt Administration wanted us to call "Uncle Joe," Mao Zedong who was openly proud of the tens of millions he sent to their death, Palestinian terrorists and their Holocaust-denying "President," "moderate" Taliban, and Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.  Yet, we hold firm against a man declared innocent time and again; a man who actually stopped Gujarat's annual that have not recurred under his administration?

My country's leaders need to acknowledge truth over politics and ideology and begin the same discussions with Modi that the UK, EU, and others already have.  Yes, it will be embarrassing if we suddenly extend a hand of friendship while holding the position that the man to whom we are extending it is worse than the rogues' gallery above whom we have taken into our bosom.  Worse for everyone, however refusing to budge in the face of facts threatens the quality of that friendship and the fate of the world going forward.

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Real War in South Asia



Trained as a social scientist, I learned that if a factor appears in event after event, ignoring it is intellectually dishonest and ineffective analysis.  As recent terror blasts in the South Indian city of Hyderabad remind us, Islam is terrorism’s repeating factor; and no one has yet to explain effectively why it would not be dishonest to summarily dismiss it as one.  Moreover, the refusal of Muslim leaders lay and clerical to act assiduously against those who commit terror in their name is troubling, to say the least.  It should be inconceivable that we live in a world where a group calling itself Indian Mujahadeen sets off terrorist bombs in a crowded Indian market, and stuffs them with nails to create the maximum amount of human suffering; and every single Muslim in South Asia is not hunting down the terrorists.  But we do.  And the rest of the world is not calling them on it, which is our part of the problem.

Yet, having just returned from Bangladesh where Islamists and their appeasers are eliminating its Hindu population, I can say that on the ground this is not a war between Hindus and Muslims but one between decent people and people who have no decency regardless of religion.

In the far northern district of Dinajpur, I recently visited a remote village of 85 Hindu families, cut off from the rest of Bangladesh in almost every way:  no electricity, bad roads, not even a signal for my cell phone.  Some time before our visit, more than 100 marauding Muslims attacked the village; moving from home to home, taking some possessions and destroying the rest; from farm to farm stealing livestock and destroying crops.  They torched the homes burning many to the ground; and they abused many of the women (an all-too-common feature of these attacks).  By the time human rights attorney Rabindra Ghosh and I arrived, the villagers had largely rebuilt, but charred remnants were there, too.  More chilling, the attackers are threatening to return and finish the job if the people do not leave Bangladesh.

Those attackers have no decency; and neither do the Bangladeshi officials, local and national, who refuse to help the victims or prosecute the attackers and are thereby complicit in the terror.  Right now, the only thing that stands in their way is four local Muslim policemen.  They told us that prior to the attacks, no one ever came to the village but that since then, they get there as frequently as possible, often multiple times daily, to let the villagers’ tormenters know that they will have to get through them if they want to renew the attacks.  (Villagers confirmed this.)  They are doing this largely on their own since, as they admit, the government is taking no action.  They fear for the villagers, however, because they know they cannot be there all the time.

In a country where decisions by public servants are based on how much money they get for it, these Muslim policemen represent the apogee of decency.

On the other hand, two Hindu Members of Parliament (MPs) visited me, and I asked them why neither they nor their 15 colleagues (by their count) have done a thing to save their co-religionists or even raised their voice against it.  I indicated Bangladeshi human rights lawyer and tireless activist, Rabindra Ghosh, beside me and said he could provide them with a fresh atrocity that they can read into the record at every session of the Jatiya Sangsad.  They could protest the non-repeal of the Vested Property Act and introduce bills to rescind this economic engine of ethnic cleansing until it is.  I pointed out that 17 MPs is a large bloc, and that the only thing preventing them from acting was their personal greed and moral cowardice.

They are not decent people, but the many young Bangladeshis I met—both Hindu and Muslim—who are trying to fight for the safety of Hindus are.  For their service to their country, the Bangladeshi police and government—who are not decent—rewarded them with beatings and arrests.

Then there is Bangladesh’s Home Minister, Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, particularly indecent because he is able to do something to stop the atrocities but refuses to do so.  On February 20, he and I had a rather acrimonious argument when he insisted that the government was doing just fine, thank you, in preventing attacks on Hindus.  I wondered how the people I met in that Dinajpur village would have responded.  His most insistent reply was that he “saw the enclaves of the Red Indians” in the United States and that “33 people were killed in Connecticut.” He also “countered” with “union membership has declined in the United States.”  Whether he really thought they have any relation to their government-aided ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh, or he was being cynical; the man has no decency.  Finally, he did ask me to provide him with evidence of any atrocities and he would have them investigated; but I asked him if he did not find it odd that he, the nation’s Home Minister sitting in its capital, was dependent on “some guy from Chicago” for information about events in Bangladesh.

Perhaps, however, the most indecent parties of all are the internationally referenced and well-funded  groups that claim the mantle of human rights defenders but who have actively ignored what has become an open secret in South Asia.  In its 2012 “Human Rights Report” on Bangladesh, Amnesty International did not even mention oppression of Hindus.  It claimed to have visited Bangladesh three times that year but could not find a trace of what has become an open secret that has been well-documented by organizations like the Hindu American Foundation, Global Human Rights Defence, and Bangladesh Minority Watch for years.

Amnesty International; Human Rights Watch; the UN with its misnomered human rights commission; the finger-wagging European Union, CNN, Reuters, the BBC, New York Times, Times of India, Times of London, the left-wing media, the right-wing media, and pretty much every other major “media”:  indecent for their willful ignorance of the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh and of those Islamists and appeasers that are guilty of doing it.

So let’s add it up.  Muslim police, Muslim and Hindu youth activists, activists like Rabindra Ghosh; decent.  Hindu MPs, Muslim attackers, Muslim cleric and political leaders, big name human rights organizations and media, and the Bangladeshi Home Minister; indecent.  The ledger seems tilted against decency right now, and it seems the only hope Bangladesh’s Hindus have is for decent people to change that.

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Friday, March 01, 2013

Bangladesh Fine with Hindus' Destruction

On February 20, 2013, I met with Bangladesh Home Minister Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir in his Dhaka office.  Having just returned from Dinajpur where I witnessed irrefutable evidence of Hindus' ethnic cleansing and government complicity, I wished to deliver a simple message.  Bangladesh has been able to get away with empty promises regarding the process that has reduced Hindus from a fifth of the population to just over seven percent, but that time is drawing to an end.  Bangladesh can either get on top of the process by taking certain concrete steps and help manage it; or it can be the recipient of whatever might come as a result of their inaction.

While some Bangladeshi officials have at least acknowledged the problem, this individual was having none of it.  He was adamant that his government was doing just fine, thank you very much, and it had no intention of doing anything more with regard to this human rights travesty.  In fact, his responses did not attempt to show how it was indeed not a problem and that Hindus in Bangladesh are just fine, but they took the form of accusations:  "I have seen the enclaves of the Red Indians," "33 people were killed in Connecticut," and "union membership has declined in the United States," which I pointed out, if I can take him at his word, indicate the depth of the problem they have.

It is an unfortunate fact that minorities are attacked pretty much everywhere.  The only reason for outsiders like me to get involved is when the insiders refuse to respond and send a message that such things are okay with them--the same message the Home Minister and early their US Ambassador sent.  I suggested that the Home Minister travel to Dinajpur where Bangladeshi human rights activist Rabindra Ghosh and I saw a village of frightened Hindus who were attacked by a group of marauding Muslims who went from home to home stealing what they wanted and destroying the rest, and from farm to farm destroying crops and stealing livestock.  The government refused to take any action and the area's MP is involved in grabbing the Hindu land; and the attackers keep threatening to return and "finish the job" if the Hindus do not leave Bangladesh.  The only thing preventing them from now is four Muslim policemen who go to the village on their own.

But the Home Minister just said that if there are atrocities, I should send him the evidence and he would investigate.  Besides the fact that this would do nothing in time for these villagers, I asked:  "Doesn't it seem odd that you, the Home Minister sitting in the nation's capital, are dependent on some guy from Chicago for evidence of such crimes?"  I also told him that such things should be handled at the local level by local officials and should not require an "investigation" by the Home Minister.

Yet, he remained adamant that they would not change anything--even the blatantly anti-Hindu laws that his government promised to repeal, had a chance to repeal, but did not.  That is, he was adamant until I suggested that such obstinacy could lead to a situation where they might find it difficult to sell their garments on the open market; at which point he pleaded poverty that fixing the problem would take money and that such sanctions would deprive them of it.

Stay tuned because leaders in at least two foreign capitals have been filled in on our encounter, presented with the damning evidence against Bangladesh, and are seriously contemplating action.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Ignorance is not Bliss

Perhaps because I maintain close track of events in South Asia, I am constantly amazed at how little most Americans know about events there.  Moreover, it is clear that India will likely to become one of the US's most important allies--if we proceed appropriately--and that South Asia is the really critical battleground between freedom and Islamist totalitarianism.

To be sure, we in the West are blissfully ignorant of perhaps the largest case of ethnic cleansing in modern times:  the elimination of Hindus in Bangladesh, who even after being driven from almost a third of the population to under eight percent, still number around 15 million souls--15 million souls at risk and facing brutalization every day.   This quiet case of ethnic cleansing, as I have dubbed it, is now spilling into India, particularly in West Bengal and the Northeast where radicals and appeasers now seem to hold sway.

A small number of Americans know a little about mass murders in Bangladesh during its 1971 revolution by Pakistani troops and local collaborators--around two to three million; and a smaller number will avidly point to the current Bangladeshi government's prosecution of those decades old crimes.  That might be true--and it comports with the ruling party's ideology--but almost none of my fellow Americans know that those prosecutions cover only the highest profile offenses, and specifically ignore some of the most egregious examples of anti-Hindu activity.  According to Rabindra Ghosh of Bangladesh Minority Watch and a tireless foe of government-enabled ethnic cleansing in his country, 22 Hindus were killed for their faith at Motbaria Upazilla of the Perojpur District of Bangladesh in 1971; and due in part to pressure by a Member of Parliament, not a single charge has ever been filed in the case.  Several newspapers have highlighted the murders and lack of prosecution, but no Bangladeshi government has ever taken action.  As a result of his activism, Advocate Ghosh and his family have been attacked by radicals with impunity.

In December, Indians were horrified at the gang rape-torture of a 23-year-old student on a public bus in Delhi.  The nation was agonizing over the incident as the young woman clung to her life.  When she lost that battle some days later, the reaction from Indians regardless of party or ideology was one of shock and anger.  They demanded that the perpetrators be brought to justice and that the country seriously examine why India has been ranked as "the worst nation to be female" among the G20 countries.  The intense pain and serious re-consideration has the potential to re-set gender roles in an area of the world where such change lags seriously behind much of the globe.  But it remains to be seen if those who claim the mantle of women's rights have even taken notice, let alone offer help in what could be a real watershed in gender equality.

Is it political alliances, ignorance, or a bias that considers victims worthy only if they have been defined so?  No matter, as far as most westerners are concerned, the brutalization of Hindus can proceed apace--even while strengthening our most inveterate enemies, as can the brutalization of women.

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Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Way Forward

Election Night 2012 saw a number of our friends and human rights allies go down to defeat.  The most significant loss was that of Illinois Congressman Robert Dold--a man whom I consider a friend; a good man; and someone whose defeat is more of a loss for the country than it is a loss for just one man.  Of whatever disappointments I had that night, Bob Dold's defeat was the one about which I am truly and personally sad.

Having said that, we must understand that while I have my own personal values and beliefs, politics is ultimately a means through which we achieve our human rights goal.  And in that respect, we retain many friends in Washington who are committed to helping us save the 15 million Hindus in Bangladesh.  We might have gained new ones, as well.  The election results--and especially Bob's loss--mean that the way forward is not as straight or direct; but it is still before us, and we will seize the opportunities that 2013 offers us.

For several years now, I have been collecting evidence of the atrocities committed against Hindus in Bangladesh and of the Bangladeshi government's complicity in them.  That complicity runs the gamut from actual participation in the atrocities and their coverup by members of the government, to the government's tacit approval of them through its refusal to prosecute.  Much of that evidence is presented in my book A Quiet Case of Ethnic Cleansing: The Murder of Bangladesh's Hindus.

Since its publication, however, I have gathered verified and verifiable evidence that the atrocities continue, as does Bangladesh's Awami League government's complicity.  I have obtained some of the evidence first-hand and some of it through human rights activists like Rabindra Ghosh.  (When the history of this terrible atrocity is written, including how it was stopped, the name of Rabindra Ghosh will be recognized as that of a true and self-less hero.  I am honored to call him a friend and colleague.)

Gathering and verifying that evidence--accumulating so much that the world can no longer remain silent and inert--and presenting it to organizations and individuals who can act is our sole focus and a goal I know we will reach soon.

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Sunday, September 02, 2012

Fifteen Million Hindu Lives at Stake in November 2012

Since beginning my efforts to save the Hindus of Bangladesh from that nation's "quiet case of ethnic cleansing,", the major thrusts of my efforts have been designed to bring this human rights atrocity to the attention of many and gain credibility for my own actions.  While much work still remains in that respect, we have made tremendous strides in having the issue recognized by people heretofore unaware of what is happening to Hindus in Bangladesh and how it is part of the greater movement of international jihad; 2013 can be the year in which Bangladesh's leaders are forced to decide between the following two options:  either stop enabling and tacitly approving of the ethnic cleansing of Hindus; or face exposure of your murderous duplicity and crippling sanctions.  For Sheikh Hasina and her government to choose between coddling Islamists and serving the people they were elected to serve. The key to that happening is the United States.

Because of our efforts and those of others, quite a few sitting Members of Congress and Senators, as well as several vying to unseat them, are now aware of Bangladesh's role in the ethnic cleansing of Hindus and how it helps strengthen international jihad.  As a result, we have a very ambitious and realistic agenda in Washington over the next 12-18 months, and electing those supportive people will help us achieve our goals.  These goals include sanctions, trade and tariffs, UN peacekeeping troops, and much more.  We are very confident that our elected leaders will come down on the side of human rights and against the continued brutalization of innocent Hindus in Bangladesh; but the keys are, first, electing the right people and, two making sure that we press on with this once that happens.

While no one has committed to specific actions or agenda items at this point, we know that we have supporters in the race whom we must support if we believe the things we say; people like Congressmen Bob Dold, Joe Walsh, Randy Hultgren, and Peter Roskam in suburban Chicago; Ted Poe and Pete Olson in the Houston area; Ed Royce in Orange County, CA; Jon Runyan in South Jersey; and many others.  Now is the time for people to press this issue to those good men and women who will have to face the voters in about 60 days from this post; now is the time for people to let them know that we cast our votes for people who will stand strong against the brutalization of innocents and not on the side of allowing it to happen.  Vote for the people noted above, and if you want information of your Congressional or Senatorial candidate, email me.  Remind them that Americans are not supposed to stand by idly and allow such atrocities to occur.  Ask them if they will support initiatives in the 113th Congress to stop the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh, and make sure they know you will cast your vote based in part or entirely on their answer and the actions they take subsequently.  And if anyone wants suggestions on what exactly to say, please email me.

This election and the next two years can be the events when we turned the tide and helped save Bangladesh's 15 million Hindus; or this can be a time when--to our everlasting shame--we did nothing and allowed them to disappear.

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