iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) was a part of the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit, which took place at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC, July 13-15.
The summit was a congregation of various religious and civil society organizations from across the world to advocate for religious freedom.
The summit was replete with events, meetings, and receptions with exiting speakers, where HAF leaders served as ambassadors for Hinduism and representing the voices of persecuted Hindus around the world.
It highlighted a wide array of issues facing persecuted religious communities around the world, from Christians and Uyghurs in China to Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan to Yazidis in Iraq and so many others around the world.
Horrendous stories of the persecuted tore at the hearts of conference attendees and alerted the world to the true nature of what life looks like in countries where religious freedom barely exists or is completely suppressed.
The event commemorated 50 years since the genocide targeting Bengalis and especially Hindus in 1971 and the ethnic cleansing of Hindus that has continued to the present day.
HAF shared a physical exhibit to educate attendees on the basics of Hinduism as well as some of the human rights violations Hindus are facing in South Asia.
Additionally, HAF was the only Hindu advocacy organization to host an official side event during the Summit on “Religious Freedom in Bangladesh 1971-2021: From Genocide to Today.”
The US Secretary State Department Anthony J. Blinken and Administrator Samantha Power from USAID shared words of support for religious freedom advocacy and the IRF Summit more broadly.
Multilateral leadership by the US is key step in making religious freedom a reality. Without US leadership on international religious freedom, the movement that mobilized governments and civil society will be in danger of fizzling out.
Blinken said, “I’m delighted to join the inaugural International Religious Freedom Summit, to reiterate the Biden Administration’s commitment to promote and defend religious freedom around the world for everyone. Freedom of religion or belief is a human right. It goes to the heart of what it means to be human – to think freely, follow our conscience, change our beliefs if our hearts and minds lead us to do so, and express our beliefs in public and in private.”
He ended his speech by saying, ” Our country was founded in part on the conviction that everyone should be free to believe what they choose. With the support of everyone gathered at this Summit, we will maintain America’s longstanding leadership on religious freedom.”