Dharma and human rights are closely related ideas for Hindus. Since ancient times, Hindus have believed that human beings should have a code of conduct, regardless of natural differences, that facilitates the harmonious existence and functioning of society. Hindus called this code of conduct by the name “Dharma”. Any type of physical, emotional, or spiritual injury to other human beings is forbidden by Dharma. Hence, there was a strong foundation which naturally protected the rights of every human being. Since Dharma emphasized “individual duties”, ordinary citizens within Hindu populations around the world benefited from the protection this system provided. It became the best safeguard against those who were potential violators of “individual rights”. In other words, when everyone acts according to Dharma, the individual rights of everyone are naturally protected. Hindus were always reminded of their obligation to protect and practice Dharma, and, believed in the age old dictum “prevention is better than cure”. This practice of constructing individual behavior within the norms of Dharma resulted in the most ancient and genuine pluralistic tradition in the world.
Human rights are of great importance to everyone, especially Hindus. We, therefore, urge all elected officials to lay substantial stress on human rights around the world.
It is indeed an irony that Hindus, having established Dharma in the world, constitute the largest number of victims of human rights abuse. When the human rights of Hindus are violated, the United States can no longer close its eyes. Hindus demand that elected officials acknowledge the plight of Hindus in Kashmir who have been driven out of their ancestral land merely because of their religion. The US must provide moral and political support to those who have been victims of this and all other ethnic cleansings around the world.
The US must ensure that the governments in Trinidad, Guyana, and Fiji protect the rights of its minorities. Hindus constitute a significant percentage of the population in these countries where human rights violations are common. We urge the State Department to pay adequate attention to these countries in monitoring rights violations.
In addition, we seek the attention of law makers to the plight of Roma (often mislabeled as “Gypsies”). During the medieval period, these Hindus from the north-west of India were taken away as slaves by invaders from central and western Asia. Their nomadic descendants, the Roma, are spread over many parts of Asia and Europe. Hitler killed more than half a million Roma along with 6 million Jews. The Soviet Union and other communist countries also mistreated them, and even the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe has not brought full freedom for the 13 million Roma. Hindus demand special recognition of their plight by the US government and aggressive monitoring of rights violations.