Dr. Richard L. Benkin
Bangladesh’s Hindu population is dying. This is not opinion or the ravings of an ideologue: It is a fact. Pakistan’s 1951 census counted Hindus as almost a third of East Pakistan’s population. When East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971, Hindus were less than a fifth; thirty years later, less than one in ten; and reliable estimates have them as few as one in 15 today. Professor Sachi Dastidar of the State University of New York estimates that about 49 million Hindus are missing from the Bangladeshi census. Still having trouble wondering where this is going? Take a look at Pakistan where Hindus are down to one percent or Kashmir where they are almost gone. Take a look at the future of Bangladesh’s Hindus if we do not act.
Bangladesh’s Hindu population is dying and little has been done about it. This, too, is not opinion but fact. It is the reality that millions live with but about which only a few others seem to care. Joseph Stalin is said to have remarked, “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.” Forty-nine million is difficult to fathom, so I am consumed by the individual victims of gang rape, pogroms, illicit land seizures, religious desecration, and other atrocities; all with government complicity and international apathy. More important for us, however, than the 49 missing million people are the millions more at risk right now. And if we do not take resolute and unbending action soon, those millions will die as well. We cannot do anything about the first group except mourn them and learn from what happened to them. But we can do something about the second group. While there is no gestapo or Janjaweed in Bangladesh, the fate of its victims is no different than theirs.
But things are beginning to change. At least one US locality has recognized the human rights travesty in a proclamation; the US Commission on International Religious Freedom just returned from Bangladesh where it addressed this issue for the first time; several members of the US Congress have raised the issue on Capitol Hill; and the new Indian Prime Minister has addressed the issue. More is being done, and more can be done.
I have put the Bangladeshi government on notice that their days of supporting these atrocities are over. Several initiatives are in the works—including Congressional hearings, an infographic, and several commercial actions. You—each one of you—can be part of a great moral action to save millions of lives, stop violence against women and children, and put an end to the ethnic cleansing of an entire people in which the world is complicity with its silence.
Human rights organizations, members of the media, government officials, NGOs, or anyone else who wants to make a difference in stopping this atrocity can contact Dr. Richard Benkin by clicking here.