New Hope for Bangladeshi Hindus
On July 28, something happened that forever changed the situation for the oppressed Hindus of Bangladesh. Congressman Robert Dold (R-IL) addressed the US House in support of HR440, sponsored by Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) to establish a “Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia” with the rank of ambassador. HR440 passed 402-20; the few nay votes coming as a protest against any new expenditures (even this tiny one) at this time.
Dold began his speech by doing something that had never been done before in the United States Congress: He raised the issue of Bangladesh's oppression of Hindus forcefully and specifically. One of the greatest impediments we face in moving people to action that will stop the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh is the failure of people to name it as an atrocity. Now it is a matter of record in the United States Congress, and will provide the basis for more severe action. Dold's first words were:
"Since 1947, 49 million Hindus in Bangladesh have gone missing according to Professor Sachi Dastidar. And a recent Hindu American Foundation report concluded that the Hindus of Bangladesh continue to be victims of daily acts of murder, rape, kidnapping, temple destruction, and physical intimidation. Dr. Richard Benkin, an authority on human rights abuses in Bangladesh, has described to me on several occasions the atrocities and human rights abuses suffered by Bangladesh's Hindus that he personally has verified."
Some people make hours-long speeches and do little more than waste the time of their listeners; but in a one and a quarter minute speech, Dold created a watershed event that gave hope to millions of the oppressed by refusing to bury their plight amid generalities like "minorities" and "extremism"; and he urged the US to act. It did not take long before word of his action spread among many of them. Now, perpetrators, appeasers, and deniers can no longer pretend that the atrocity is not happening. Naming it was the first step in defeating it and sets a new basis for several actions now in the works to do just that. Thank you, Bob Dold, for doing what no one else has been able to do. And thank you, USA.