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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

For the USCIRF, only Christian lives matter!

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom or USCIRF has again come out with their annual report and recommendation for Bharat remains the same. It suggests that Bharat be put in the “Countries of Particular Concern(CPC)” list that is brought out every year by the state department of the US govt. Last year, the state department of USA had rejected the recommendation of the USCIRF in respect of Bharat.

There is considerable media coverage given to the annual USCIRF report and last year even the Ministry of External Affairs had to issue a statement repudiating the body as an “organisation of particular concern“. The body has been in past pulled up by the MEA for disseminating misinformation on COVID 19 treatment to minorities and for meddling in affairs of Bharat. Bharat has also consistently denied visa to USCIRF teams since 2009, questioning their locus standi to “pronounce on the state of Indian citizens’ constitutionally protected rights”.

Bharat in USCIRF report 2021

The report on Bharat says in the second sentence that the BJP government “promoted Hindu nationalist policies resulting in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom. These are a lot of adjectives in the beginning, without any data being presented. But that is only because the Commission is mandated to use these adjectives in the law. The criteria for designating countries as a CPC, as set forth in section 3(11) of the IRFA, are for “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom including violations such as–A) torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of punishment; B) prolonged detention without charges; C) causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction or clandestine detention of those persons; and D) other flagrant denial of the right of life, liberty, or the security of persons.’

The report presents the February 2020 riots in Delhi as anti-Muslim violence, as if no Hindu suffered any loss due to riots! The report denounces CAA and NRC, specially in Assam.

The law by UP stopping forced conversions is criticized. The FCRA act is another pain point for USCIRF. It mentions how the “numerous Christian and other religious and human rights organizations” have been affected by it. The commission uses the same terminology that is used by Breaking-Bharat forces. It claims acts of violence against  “Dalits, Muslims, Christians, Adivasis, and other religious communities.” In this manner, it seeks to separate Schedules Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities, most of whom actually are followers of Hindu Dharma, from Hindu Dharma!

Another major concern of the USCIRF seems to be the “anti-conversion” laws. It says that “mobs—fueled by false accusations of forced conversions—attacked Christians, destroyed churches, and disrupted religious worship services.”The issue of cow slaughter is also mentioned in the report which criticizes the new law by Karnataka to put a stop on it.

USCIRF : Only Christians matter

The USCIRF might try to present a facade of inclusiveness and with the magisterial tone of its report, pretends to judge all the countries of the world in a neutral manner, yet it is a thinly veiled project of Christian interests. For the namesake, it does take note of Muslim persecution in some countries and  in a small way, Hindu persecution in some other countries, but its main focus is on Christians.

The composition of the commission is as follows:-

  • Gayle Manchin, Chairperson : A politician, she has been noted for her corruption. Her husband, senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia is famously homophobic and has opposed LGBT rights and abortion, due to Christian beliefs. There is a long list of corruption allegations against the family.
  • Tony Perkins : He is also president of Family Research Council, a fundamentalist Protestant Christian activist group with stated mission “to advance faith, family and freedom in public policy and the culture from a Christian worldview”
  • Nadine Maenza: She is a known associate of Rick Santorum, a Roman Catholic Christian Fundamentalist who opposes abortion, contraceptives, right to privacy, LGBT rights and denies evolution and Climate Change.
  • Gary L. Bauer: He is a conservative Christian associated with Family Research Council and Focus on the Family. He is against abortion and LGBT rights. He is a supporter of Israel and critic of Islam. He is against illegal immigration in USA.
  • Anurima Bhargava: A second generation Indian American, she is a lawyer. She has previously testified against India at various forums. She is an associate of Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Party leader.
  • James W. Carr: An educator, he has been associated with World Christian Broadcasting since decades. This radio station broadcasts Christian songs and teachings over shortwave all over the world.
  • Rev. Frederick Davie : A Christian priest, Davie Davie has served the national Presbyterian Church, the NYC presbytery, and local congregations for many years and since 2011 is the Executive Vice President of the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York since August 15, 2011.
  • Johnnie Moore: He is an American Christian evangelical leader and business person.
  • Nury Turkel : An Uighur Muslim, he has been living in the US since 1995.

So out of 9 members of USCIRF, 7 are Christian priests or Christian fundamentalist leaders! Of the remaining two, one is a Muslim and last one is what we see in Bharat as a secular Hindu. Can such a body deliberate on any religious issue without bias?

To put this in context, let us imagine if Bharatiya Parliament also creates such a panel with 7 Hindu Sadhus, 1 Muslim from a BJP background and 1 Tibetan Buddhist. Would such a body be representative and competent to pronounce on the state of religious freedom across the world? Probably not.

The biggest proof of the bias of USCIRF is the Freedom of Religion or Belief Victims List it maintains at its website. The list is indexed according to countries. Only, there are no Christian countries. The inclusion of Russia has more to do with geo-politics than with freedom of religion. Probably, according to USCIRF there is no persecution of other faiths in Christian majority countries. Yet, Hungary and France, which have in recent times been condemned multiple times for their anti-Muslim laws ! Denmark has been sending Syrian refugees back and hate crimes are on the rise all over the western world.

Coming back to the list, out of the 30 persons listed as persecuted in Pakistan, 25 are Christians, 3 Muslims and 2 Hindu! It seems that in Pakistan, Muslims are more persecuted than Hindu! The only “victim” from Bharat is Stan Swamy, Christian priest, who has been on trial for anti-Bharat activities and collaborating with Maoists. Probably, news of many Hindu women forcibly or fraudulently converted by Islamists or killing of Anurag Poddar in Munger for taking out a religious procession does not come under their definition. HinduPost has been documenting the cases of Hindu persecution but the events mentioned there obviously do not make the cut for USCIRF.

The stupendous hypocrisy of USCIRF does not stop here. Apart from ignoring religious persecution of other faiths in Christian countries and in countries like USA, it never even taken the name of Israel, one of the countries that has worst accusations of religious persecution against it. The same actors that denounce Bharat also denounce Israel, yet USCIRF could not summon courage to name it in its report.

Interestingly, the USCIRF endorsed articles further show its tinted glasses to the world. For example, its website links to an article on “Love Jihad” by Arundhati Katju. The lawyer-activist opens the article with “For more than a decade, right-wing Hindu groups in India have conjured the specter of a “love jihad” among Muslim men“. This very first sentence is factually incorrect as “Love Jihad” was “conjured” by Christians of Kerala! Here too, USCIRF and its friends ascribe to Hindus what they think is worth condemning, even though the same was started by Christians.

Curiously, the home country of the commission, USA, itself continues to detain and deport illegal immigrants from Latin America as well as other countries/regions, and did so even during the same period. Probably USCIRF should explain how this is different from concept of NRC(which is as of yet not even drafted!) US provides citizenship on easy terms to certain demographics, which is exactly the same as CAA. As for riots, the last year saw multiple riots, shootings and disturbances in the USA too, probably more than in India on a population adjusted basis. The grooming laws in USA are valid, but the “forced conversion” laws of Bharat are invalid for the fact-blind and biased USCIRF.

The fact is that bodies like USCIRF are tools of US diplomacy, much like many multinational corporations and NGOs are. They advance its interests in their own different ways. This is something for Bharat’s ruling leaders to learn.

Featured image  credit: Shutterstock

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Pawan Pandey
Pawan Pandey
Pawan Pandey is an Educator based in Dehradun, currently working as Senior Staff Writer with HinduPost. He is an Engineer by training and a teacher by passion. He teaches for Civil Service Exams as well as for Common Law Admission Test. He has deep interest in politics, economy, culture and all things Bharatiya. He fancies himself to be a loving husband and doting father. His weakness is Bharatiya food, particularly sweets. His hobbies include reading, writing and listening to Bharatiya music.


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