On Tuesday 5 March
Hindu Human Rights participated in the discussion in the House of Commons, organised by Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association, and chaired by Andrew Stephenson, MP for Pemble. Also present was Desmond Fernandes, genocide expert and one of the main authors of the report, which was submitted that day and which HHR helped to co-author. The other main author, Nathanael Lewis, spoke on the targeting of Christians in Pakistan, giving several examples of including the story of the rape of a two year old girl after her father refused to convert to Islam. Faiz Baluch spoke of the ethnic persecution of the Baluchi people, including the deliberate targeting of the professional and educated class amongst this Muslim minority.
HHR mentioned that this was an almost exact replay of events in what is now Bangladesh, where the Pakistan military in 1971 also specifically targeted the leadership and intellectuals of the Bengalis to be liquidated. Solicitor Jas Uppal spoke on the situation of Indian citizens arrested as spies for crossing the border, many held incommunicado, or for years or decades beyond their original unjust sentences. Lynn Julius spoke on the elimination of Jews in Pakistan, and the ongoing anti-semitism in Pakistani society despite the almost complete absence of Jews in the country.
Ranbir Singh explained how the persecution of Hindus in Pakistan rarely raises any eyebrows. Indeed while the world puts its attention elsewhere, thousands remain stateless as they eke out an existence in refugee camps inside India, mainly Rajasthan and Punjab. The remainder face a daily ordeal of rape, kidnapping, forcible conversion and severe discrimination in all walks of life. While aid money is sent to Pakistan from taxpayers in donor countries this has done nothing to help build a strong civil society. Indeed the country has been regressively less democratic for all its people, and its minorities in particular. So that donor money is being used to help bolster repression, ethnic cleansing as well as religiously and racially motivated violence by the organs of the recipient state.
It should be remembered that with legislation such as the blasphemy laws which are used to settle old scores and petty squabbles, and the deliberate murder of those seen as enemies of the state such as medical workers trying to eradicate polio, it is the majority in Pakistan who suffer. Nevertheless this claustrophobic and deadly environment is especially hard on Hindus and other minority groups. It is time that the nations espousing democracy, human rights and equality took notice and realise that one of their much touted frontline states in the war against terror, is enforcing very real terror and state approved murder upon millions of its own citizens just because they fall into that amorphous category of being ‘different’.