Thursday, May 07, 2015


In its just released report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) ignored overwhelming evidence of Bangladeshi government complicity in the ethnic cleansing of Hindus, while rejecting the path of cooperation with India, choosing instead a sterile form of confrontation.

·        USCIRF was established by Title II of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.  Its mandate is to “facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom [and make] policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.”

·        Along with a misguided minority in Washington, it has for years sullied the reputation of current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and observant Hindus with discredited claims of his complicity in anti-minority violence.

·        Its recently-released 2015 annual report continues that effort, using questionable material to claim religious freedom abuses in India, and attributes it to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent election and "Hindu nationalist groups," while calling forced conversion of Hindus "media propaganda." When USCIRF staff brought the allegations to me for my advice, I provided evidence refuting it.

·        Fewer and fewer people and organizations continue this sterile line given Modi’s election as India’s Prime Minister, his actions since that election, the growing importance of India’s relations with other democracies, and India’s Supreme Court having cleared Modi multiple times.

·        USCIRF’s action is consistent with a pattern of anti-Hindu bias.

·        Its report on Pakistan, where Hindus face intense violence and have been reduced to one percent of the population, USCIRF calls violence against Hindus “allegations,” while not similarly qualifying the claims of any other minority group.

·        Its report on Bangladesh calls violence against Hindus “occasional,” despite sending staff on a fact-finding trip in which my associates provided ample and vetted evidence of ongoing ethnic cleansing of Hindus and the Bangladeshi government’s complicity that have reduced Hindus from one in five Bangladeshis to as few as one in 15.

·        In August 2014, I arranged a meeting between an Indian government representative and USCIRF’s Chairperson at which both parties agreed on a path of cooperation to undo decades of mutual animosity and work together toward common understandings.  In the end, USCIRF rejected cooperation and chose the course of confrontation instead with an increasingly important US ally.

·        Hindus are being persecuted out of existence in Bangladesh and Pakistan.  Yet, USCIRF minimizes or ignores that—despite being given ample evidence to the contrary choosing instead to pursue discredited accusations against one of our most sincere allies.  I have direct evidence of all of this and stand by my accusations against USCIRF and the government of Bangladesh.

·        USCIRF’S decision was a disservice to both India and the United States, to religious minorities in South Asia, and to the cause of religious freedom worldwide.  It also called its impartiality into question and with it that of the United States government.

Labels: , , , , , ,