American human rights activist, Dr. Richard L. Benkin, has been asked to give an address to American University on the plight of Bangladesh’s Hindus. Benkin is the USA Correspondent for Weekly Blitz and one of the paper’s spiritual founders. Editor and publisher, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, tapped Benkin to work with him in 2003, and the two have been brothers ever since. Benkin also led the international movement that eventually freed Blitz editor from imprisonment and torture. American University—one of the most prestigious universities in the US capitol—is having a series of events to commemorate the internationally observed Holocaust Remembrance Week, to honor the victims of the Nazi holocaust against the Jewish people. An estimated 6,000,000 Jews, or one third of the world’s Jewish population at the time, were murdered by the Nazis in an attempted genocide of that people.
Dr. Richard Benkin’s address will take place on Thursday [April 23, 2009] evening as part of a panel on “Modern day Genocides.” He will be joined by Jeremy Woodrum, cofounder and director of U.S. Campaign for Burma and Cory Smith, policy and advocacy consultant for Humanity United. The panel will focus on Burma, Darfur and Bangladesh.
Benkin’s invitation originated when an American University student heard him speak about the plight of Shoaib Choudhury and was inspired to tell others about Benkin’s work in general and the Shoaib Choudhury case specifically.
He and others followed Benkin’s more recent efforts on behalf of the Bangladeshi Hindus and decided to try and get him to speak on campus. The Holocaust Remembrance Week events were a perfect match.
“We Jews came out of the holocaust with the promise, ‘Never Again,’” Benkin said. By that we meant that we would never again allow such a thing to happen. But for us, it didn’t just mean not letting it happen to Jews but to anyone. That’s the spirit that drew me to stand up for Bangladesh’s Hindus who are being ethnically cleansed from that country. That spirit and the courage of my brother, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.”
Benkin said that what is being done to the Bangladeshi Hindus is something that he would have to oppose in any case; but his opposition is even stronger, he said, because it is being done by Islamist radicals “aided by their allies in the government” and is part of the international jihad against all those who stand in the way of radical Islam and its goals.
At American University and other meetings in Washington, Benkin will present findings from his month-long trip to India during March 2009, where he met with Bangladeshi Hindu refugees, some of whom continue to face attacks “from Islamists on both sides of the border,” he said.
“I spoke with refugees who fled Bangladesh as recently as 22 days before I interviewed them. The specifics of their stories vary, but the underlying message is the same. Some radicals will seize their property, beat or threaten them, or sometimes worse. They then go to local authorities who tell them to leave the country or face the consequences. I met a girl who couldn’t have been older than 14 or 15 who was raped by these radicals while they beat her father! Anyone who does that is garbage and anyone who knowingly lets them do it is garbage, too. And you know what we do with garbage.”
Benkin also said he knows that is not the people of Bangladesh; but they must be opposed just as we would have opposed the Nazis. He sees a light, however, in this week’s conference.
“We know that the Burmese junta has been persecuting the Muslim Rohingyas. I wonder if Mr. Woodrum will be talking about that. Because all decent human beings are in the same boat with these people. We’re all potential victims, and I would love to see Muslims and Jews standing together to fight these evils. Some people think that’s a fantasy, but who knows? There’s an old saying that ‘we must hang together or we will surely hang separately.’”
It may be mentioned here that, during his recent India tour, Dr. Richard L Benkin was also willing to visit Bangladesh to meet members of religious minority groups as well as local media. But, Bangladesh embassy in Washington refused to issue him the visa, for the fifth time. In 2007, Richard Benkin was allowed to visit Bangladesh during January 8-18. During that tour, he met with a large number of minority activists and social workers in Bangladesh as well as business and media community to understand best possible ways to help Bangladesh in getting various forms of benefits from the United States.