An American Congressman has slammed the alleged ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan and said that Hindus have been discriminated much more than any other ethnic group in these countries.
Speaking at the Capitol Hill reception hosted by the Hindu American Foundation, California Republican Ed Royce said he had nothing but "feelings of humility and empathy for a people who have been subjected to -- despite the tolerance of their own religion and despite the way in which Hindus have treated and accepted others -- more discrimination than just about any other ethnic group."
The influential lawmaker, who was presented with HAF's Friend of the Community Award for his campaign against discrimination and human rights violations of Hindus in Bangladesh, said that "as someone who has been to Bangladesh, Pakistan, to Central Asia, to South Asia and talked with many of the victims," he deplored the kind of human rights abuse they had undergone in these countries.
"There are two million Hindu Americans here in the United States, and many of them have shared their own stories with their neighbours and us in the United States," he said, and noted, "So we have some inkling of what they went through."
Royce said one could just fathom the level of ethnic cleansing that had taken place in Pakistan when one considers "the fact that Pakistan was once 25 per cent Hindu."
"To think about the loss of life that has occurred and to think about the ethnic cleansing that still goes on," he said was a tragedy of enormous proportions, and added, "To think about the use of intimidation against Hindu women used and still used in those societies where there is a small minority yet of Hindus in Pakistan."
Royce said the same kind of blatant human rights against Hindus were occurring in Bangladesh and Bhutan and spoke of his familiarity "of what the Bangladeshi Hindu population has been through."
"It cries out for the international community to step in," he said. "I can share with you that I've made many trips to India, but I've also in these trips gone to Bangladesh and Pakistan and raised these human rights issues with those governments because it is unacceptable -- it's absolutely unacceptable -- the inhumane, intolerant way in which Hindus are treated when they are a minority in these countries in South Asia."
Royce lauded the HAF to "trying to galvanise here in the United States, not only the rights of Hindus here in the United States, but also equally importantly, the safety, the security of Hindus throughout South Asia in the face of the kind of intolerance that we see being advanced through Islamist extremism."
"And, my fervent hope is that we can learn from the lesson of what has befallen other victims and begin to take the action necessary to cut off the support for the Deobandi schools, for the madrassas, which are turning out the next generation of those who are going to teach hate."
Royce said it was also imperative that "we've all got to pressure the government of Pakistan to put an end to those textbooks which teach the concept that hatred should be visited upon the Hindu minority or spread the message that only one religion should be practiced in that country."
"And, it's also my hope going forward that we can further our humanitarian efforts to assist those victims of the type of ethnic cleansing that is going on today," he said.