CoHNA Applauds US Senators for Expressing Solidarity with Persecuted Hindu and Sikh Minorities of Afghanistan; Urges Other Lawmakers to Join the Efforts
New Jersey, July 4th, 2020. The Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA) welcomed a letter sent by twenty US senators to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, expressing serious concerns around the existential threat faced by religious minorities in Afghanistan. On June 25, 2020, the senators, wrote to Secretary Pompeo, highlighting an urgent need to protect the vulnerable Hindu and Sikh communities in the country. The senators, led by Robert Menendez, the Ranking Member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, recommended emergency refugee protection for these persecuted communities under the FY20 US Refugee Admission Program, through Priority 1 and Priority 2 embassy referrals, and to ensure that US COVID-19 assistance reaches religious minorities in the country.
“We are glad to see our national leaders expressing solidarity with persecuted religious minorities such as Hindus and Sikhs. We thank them and urge others to join in,” remarked Nikunj Trivedi, president of CoHNA. “It has always been our position to bring attention to the dire situation of these religiously persecuted minorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. This is one reason why we had expressed serious concerns when certain US cities were passing resolutions against India for providing similar assistance to these same minorities.”
Indeed, on May 17, 2020, CoHNA wrote to the City Council of St. Paul, Minnesota, urging the council not to pass a Hinduphobic resolution that propagated misinformation about India’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which is aimed at providing citizenship to those who had been explicitly persecuted in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh due to their religion.
The letter from the US senators is a clear testament to the growing human rights violations and existential threat religious minorities face in these countries and why laws are needed to ensure that these minorities are given a home away from religious persecution and genocide.
Pointing out the role of radical Islamists like ISIS in systematically exterminating Hindus and Sikhs, the letter shared how the two communities, which once numbered around 250,000 people, have now been reduced to less than 1,000 due to decades of persecution. The communities continue to face discrimination in housing and employment, and in the past, Taliban had mandated that Hindus and Sikhs wear yellow armbands or patches to denote their religious identities. In March 2020, radical Islamists attacked a Sikh Gurudwara and killed 25 people, and later detonated a bomb during the funeral service for those victims.
CoHNA also urged other senators and congressmen to join the call to provide refugee protection to these minority communities and to press leaders of these countries to take strict measures in ending religious persecution.
Names of senators who signed the letter: Robert Menendez (D-NJ); Thomas Tillis (R-NC); Charles Schumer (D-NY); James Lankford (R-OK); Richard Durbin (D-IL); Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Patrick Leahy (D-VT); Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Tim Kaine (D-VA); Kamala Harris (D-CA); Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA); Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Bernard Sanders (D-VT); Patty Murray (D-WA); Christopher Coons (D-DE); Edward Markey (D-MA); Tammy Duckworth (D-IL); Jack Reed (D-RI); Mark Warner (D-VA); Benjamin Cardin (D-MD).
CoHNA is a grassroots level advocacy organization dedicated to improving the understanding of Hinduism in North America by working on matters related to the Hindu community and by educating the public about Hindu heritage and tradition. For more information, please visit www.cohna.org or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cohnaofficial or Facebook at www.facebook.com/cohnaofficial.
Image Credit: NRI Pulse