For the first time in the History of the umbrella for Hindus of Europe, the presidency has slipped from the hands of the British. Mr Radj Bondoe, president Emeritus of the Hindu Raad Nederlands has been voted in as President, This makes him the third president of the organisation. The first two were both British.
The elections took place at Gitananda Ashram in Altare, Italy. The ashram hosted the two day event which also saw two conferences about the Freedom of Religion and Human Rights issues faced by Hindus in Europe and in Asia respectively. The Mayor of Altare was there to witness European delegates talking about issues they face in the different countries of Europe, some of whom as in Italy recognise Hinduism and others who do not.
In the countries where Hinduism is not recognised, Hindus have no formal status and are not allowed to provide the basic Human right of Chaplains in Hospitals and prisons, for example. The secretary of the Hindu Forum of Belgium and Europe Mahaprabhu Das showed the documentation his group had prepared and presented to the Belgian government, opposition and many other government officials requesting recognition, but 3 years on they had heard nothing. Italian representatives led by Svamini Hamsanada of the Gitananda ashram gave presentations on the needs for interpreters, translators and advocacy workers needed to help the migrant Hindu communities to enable them to access the services available to Italian citizens. Germany, Hungary, Britain, Holland, each spoke of their situation whilst reports were received from France and Sweden.
The situation of Europe paled into insignificance when in the afternoon the representatives of Asian countries spoke about the state of Human Rights and Religious Freedom in their countries. Speakers from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indian Kashmir spoke about how in their countries temples were destroyed daily, People murdered purely for being Hindu, and subtle discrimination in marginalisation on education and jobs led 80% of the Hindu community living in destitution. Example was given of over 200 families living in the compound of one temple in Pakistan because they have nowhere to go. The Bangladeshi speaker spoke about how daring to exercise the right to vote in the national election in January 2014, led to Hindus being massacred, raped and chased out of their villages, with the government doing very little to combat it. The politicians and ambassadors of these countries made the same excuse for the violence; It is not the government, it is the general public that does these things and therefore we are not responsible. The conference reached a consensus on the call from the outgoing President Ms Bharti Tailor, that “The governments of these countries may deny responsibility, but that they must be held accountable for the behaviour of their citizens.”
In the case of Sri Lanka the speakers from the British Tamils Forum evidenced that the government was responsible for the treatment and massacre of the Tamils and is still actively preventing International organisations from going in to see the evidence. The General Assembly agreed to work together to establish a Hindu Solidarity platform to raise awareness and take joint action on issues of Human Rights and Freedom of Religion of Hindus