The Frightening Phenomenon of Human Rights Violations in South Asia


“From the perspective of a knowledgeable outsider, South Asia presents a picture of a region with nations that use the language of human rights extensively but remain silent at arguably the most extensive record of accepted major human rights abuses in the world.  We have numerous examples of inter-communal violence perpetrated against Ahmadiyya in Bangladesh, Hindus in Kashmir, and Muslims in Gujarat, just to name three.  Radical Islamist terrorism has been targeting non-Muslims with growing frequency in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, and elsewhere.  Ethnic cleansing is being practiced against Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh with government complicity; and in Bhutan by the government.  Even the region’s tiny Jewish population has been victimized with Christians in Northeast India preventing the Bnai Menashe from emigrating to Israel.


“Because South Asia is home to the world’s second, third, and fourth largest Muslim populations, more than 95 percent of the world’s Hindus, and close to one in four people on the planet; this phenomenon is frightening not only for South Asia but for the entire world,” said Dr. Richard L. Benkin, a Human Rights Activist from the US, while giving a talk on “Human Rights in South Asia”, jointly organized by Open Space and CCYRCI (Circle for Child and Youth Research Cooperation in India) at the Academic Staff College, Lucknow University on Saturday.


Author of a monograph on Bangladeshi Hindus, titled A Quiet Case of Ethnic Cleansing, Dr. Benkin drew attention particularly to the plight of Hindus in Bangladesh. He said, “Governments and populations alike seem paralyzed to take effective action.  The thing most likely to galvanize both is a specific issue behind which every moral individual and entity can get.  The wanton destruction of the Bangladeshi Hindus is one such issue.  From almost one in five Bangladeshis to less than one in ten today; Bangladeshi Hindus have been murdered and raped in ritual fashion and had their property legally plundered, while lower level official participated in the carnage and successive governments remained passive.  Moreover, the world remained silent.  Where was the government of India?  Where was the government of the United States?  The UN or the human rights NGOs such as Amnesty International?  When we talk to leaders about it, they either plead ignorance or offer some excuse about why inaction was better than action.  If one objects that it should not matter that the victims are Hindu; realize that it matters only because the perpetrators have made it matter.  These atrocities occurred because the victims were Hindu.  And perhaps the world is silent for the same reason.” Based in Chicago, Dr. Benkin is the owner and founder of Inter-Faith Strength and a Member of Islam-Israel Fellowship Council. He received “Special US Congressional Recognition” in 2005 and was nominated for Lorenzo Natali Prize for Journalism in 2006.


The programme was presided over by Prof. Nishi Pandey, Director, Academic Staff College, Lucknow University. The CCYRCI was represented by its Executive Secretary Dr. Vinod Chandra and Organising Secretary Dr. Sanjay Singh, while Open Space was represented by its Fellow Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi. The talk was well attended by academics and research scholars of the Lucknow University.


Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi

Open Space Fellow in Lucknow

Centre for Communication & Development Studies, Pune

Mob: 9936425234


Dr. Vinod Chandra

Executive Secretary

Mob: 9415189200


Dr. Sanjay Singh

Organising Secretary

Mob: 9450768961


CCYRCI (Circle for Child & Youth Research Cooperation in India)