What Indian Human Rights Activists are doing?
Chicago (USA): American Jewish activist, Dr. Richard L. Benkin, returned to the United States after an extensive mission to India on behalf of Hindu refugees from Bangladesh. After brief stops in Delhi and Lucknow, where he spoke at the university and to press, Benkin trekked throughout West Bengal, especially in the North where borders with Bangladesh, Nepal, and China are porous.
He visited over a dozen “refugee colonies” some legal, some not; and captured hours of testimony from the people living there. “At first,” he said, “people were reluctant to say too much, especially about continued cross-border incursions by Islamist radicals from Bangladesh still ongoing. At about the fourth camp I visited, however, one elderly woman stood up and said, ‘I’m not afraid of anybody,’ and proceeded to talk about attacks by Islamists from Bangladesh and the nearby village. She also criticized the West Bengal government for allowing them to continue even now.” In camp after camp, she and other refugees recounted incident after incident of attacks by radicals in Bangladesh and local government complicity.
Benkin also spoke at a public meeting in Siliguri where he told his audience that he would work for the refugees but that the key to their fate lies with them; most importantly, that they and especially organization leaders on the dais with him pledge their unwavering opposition to corruption. “A corrupt leader is like a prostitute because he sells himself for money, but even worse because he is also selling out his people.” Benkin noted later that several people present already had proven corrupt in part by misappropriating funds collected for his visit.
In Siliguri, he also recounted the story of one teenage girl in a colony who said she was proud to be Bengali and knew that her people deserved better than they had. She wanted to become a teacher and help other Bengalis develop the same pride and commitment to their people. “That is who we are fighting for,” Benkin said.
Before returning to the United States, Benkin stopped in London where he gathered more support for the Bangladeshi Hindus. Now home, he intends to spread awareness of their plight to various organizations, media, and the US Congress.
“Oppressed by Bangladesh, ignored by India, and betrayed by those corrupt individuals who claim to be working on their behalf; these people are at the fulcrum of an ethnic cleansing effort. And they need our support.”
For further information or interviews, please contact Richard Benkin by email or telephone as noted below.
Richard L. Benkin, Ph.D.