Washington, DC – Representatives of various organizations under the umbrella of the Pakistan Human Rights Collective (PHRC) held a demonstration on August 16 in front of the Pakistani embassy in Washington, DC, protesting against the sharp decline in the country’s minority population.
Quoting official census reports, Shivaram, one of the protesters, said, “When Pakistan was formed in 1947, the population of minorities was 24 percent, including 18 percent of Hindus; now this population has reduced alarmingly to less than two percent and Hindus less than one percent.” (http://www.census.gov.pk/Religion.htm)
Attending the protests in a personal capacity, Jenica Wright, a human rights lawyer and a volunteer with Amnesty International, said, “We, who belong to different social and human rights groups, are very dismayed and sorry that no international forum has raised its voice against the violation of such serious human rights,” adding, “It is not acceptable to any citizen of a democratic country, what is happening in Pakistan. Every person has the right to have a peaceful and respectful life.”
The participants highlighted to India America Today that the story of Hindus in Pakistan is among the greatest untold tragedies of the twentieth century. More than one fifth of the population has simply disappeared without a voice or concern, and persecution continues unchecked, they added.
The demonstration unanimously called on the nation of Pakistan to demonstrate what the founders of the nation proclaimed, that, “They (Hindus and other minorities) will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizen.”
Utsav Chakrabarti, the relations coordinator for the World Hindu Council of America, one of the participating organizations, submitted a memorandum to Shaikh Muhammad Umar, the Counsellor of Community Affairs of the embassy, on behalf the organizations.
Another member, Mahendra Sapa, demanded that Pakistan takes steps to promote respect for the Hindu religion in their education system, and all the historical monuments and settlements that form part of Pakistan’s four millennia old history be preserved and promoted.
The other organizations in the PHRC are the International Association for Human Values, Develop Empower Synergize India (DESI), and the Sindhi Association of Greater Maryland.