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.
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.
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.
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: Bangladesh, Bangladeshi Hindus, ethnic cleansing, Narendra Modi, Pakistan, Pakistani Hindus, USCIRF