Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Hindu American Foundation exposed as foe of human rights and religious freedom

Indian American coalition condemns HAF's sophistry "explaining" Hindu nationalist violence against minorities in India
Washington DC, Monday, April 7, 2014

The Coalition Against Genocide (CAG -, today condemned the Hindu American Foundation for opposing the Congressional hearings on the plight of religious minorities in India and for obfuscating the issues around violence against minorities. As CAG has established in its recent report titled "Affiliations of Faith (Parts I and II)," HAF is primarily a front for the Hindu nationalist movement (also known as Hindutva) led by the RSS in India. Contrary to its claims about being a human rights organization, HAF has consistently served as apologists for the violent politics of the Sangh Parivar (the broad family of RSS organizations that includes HAF and its US based affiliates such as the VHP-A).

HAF's position on the plight of religious minorities in India is diametrically opposite to that of USCIRF, Human Rights Watch, Advocates for Human Rights, and also notable human rights activists like John Dayal. On its website and in social media, HAF has attacked the integrity of prominent organizations like HRW and USCIRF. This fits a pattern followed by Hindutva organizations where concern for minorities in India is projected as "bias" against Hindus.

"While any situation involving millions of people professing diverse religions is necessarily complex, violations of human rights and religious freedom as a result of the increasingly hostile socio-political environment created by the Hindu nationalist movement deserve international condemnation," said Mr. Alex Koshy, a CAG spokesperson. "It is deplorable that an organization claiming to stand for pluralism and human rights stridently opposes any scrutiny of the situation of religious minorities in India," added Mr. Koshy. "While being vocal about the situation of Hindu minorities in other parts of the world, HAF appears to be considering Christian, Muslim and Sikh religious minorities in India as somehow less worthy of having their plight known to the American public," said Dr. Raja Swamy, also a CAG spokesperson.

HAF touts its mission statement as "Promoting Human Dignity, Mutual Respect and Pluralism." Yet HAF's concern about the effect the hearings may have on the upcoming elections betrays its real priorities. In echoing HAF's concern about the timing of the hearing, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard appeared to be reading from an HAF script. At the very least, she could have sought a briefing from her staff on the evidence based data about the condition of religious minorities in India, and that H.Res. 417 is in fact a pro-India resolution that celebrates India's long-standing pluralistic ethos.

HAF's posturing against the hearings is reflected in its written testimony, graciously added to the record by Rep. Joe Pitts. A monumental exercise in apologetics for majoritarian violence in India, HAF claims for instance that the massacre of Christians in Odisha by Hindutva organizations, is to be blamed on the murder of a prominent Hindutva leader Swami Lakshmananda (who was killed by Maoists). Furthermore HAF blames anti-Christian violence perpetrated by the Hindutva movement as a response to "aggressive proselytizing by Christian missionary groups." When it comes to anti-minority violence conducted by the Hindutva movement, HAF consistently blames minority victims and tacitly defends the perpetrators.

HAF's alacrity in protecting Hindutva organizations from any kind of international censure for violence against minorities in India stands in stark contrast to its vigorous efforts to highlight the plight of Hindu minorities in countries around the world. Far from being an organization committed to promoting human dignity and pluralism, HAF stands exposed as a foe of human rights, working to defend the Hindutva movement from much needed public scrutiny in the US.

The Coalition Against Genocide is composed of a diverse group of organizations and individuals in the United States and Canada that have come together in response to the Gujarat genocide to demand accountability and justice.

  1. Dr. Shaik Ubaid
    Phone: 516-567-0783

  2. Dr. Raja Swamy
    Phone: 864-804-0216

Coalition Against Genocide
Phone/Fax: (443) 927-9039

  1. TLHRC Hearing: The Plight of Religious Minorities in India

  2. Affiliations of Faith: Hindu American Foundation and the Global Sangh (Part 1)

  3. Affiliations of Faith: Hindu nationalism and HAF - Joined at the hip (Part 2)

  4. Hindu American Foundation reveals its supremacist ideology through smear campaign against CAG and Indian Muslims

  5. Hindu nationalism set to take over the world's biggest democracy, The Independent, UK, April 4th 2014

  6. H.Res 417 -- Praising India's rich religious diversity and commitment to tolerance and equality, and reaffirming the need to protect the rights and freedoms of religious minorities.

  7. BJP-led government to be detrimental to religious minorities: Experts

  8. MN Rights Group Testifies at Congressional Hearing on the Plight of Minorities in India