WASHINGTON: Describing Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan as "endangered minorities", a resolution introduced in the US Congress has sought to resettle these persecuted religious communities from the war-torn country to America.
Introduced in the House of Representatives last week by Congresswoman Jackie Speier and co-sponsored by seven others, the resolution supports refugee protection for Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan, noting the "systematic religious persecution, discrimination and existential danger" faced by the members of these communities.
"Sikhs and Hindus are indigenous but endangered minorities in Afghanistan, numbering approximately 700 out of a community that recently included over 8,000 members," the resolution stated.
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The resolution supports resettling Sikhs and Hindus from Afghanistan in the US under the United States Refugee Admissions Programme pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Expressing concern for the safety of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan, the resolution condemns all terrorist attacks, religious persecution and discrimination against members of these communities in the war-ravaged country.
Noting that Islamic militants attacked a gurdwara in Kabul on March 25, killing 25 worshipers, including a four-year-old girl, the resolution said that the terrorists made further attempts on the lives of the survivors before and after the funeral ceremony held for the victims.
The resolution also mentioned the suicide bombing carried out by Islamic State-Khorasan in Jalalabad on July 1, 2018, which took the lives of 19 people, including leaders of Sikh and Hindu communities.
"These acts of violence follow a greater pattern of targeted violence against Sikhs, Hindus, and other religious minorities in Afghanistan in recent years," it said.
According to the resolution, the Department of State and US Commission on International Religious Freedom have documented systemic discrimination against Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan, including restrictions on religious practices, illegal seizure of property, the inability to send their children to public schools due to harassment, judicial bias against religious minorities, and constitutional limitations on the political rights of religious minorities.
The former Taliban-led government routinely persecuted and discriminated against the Afghan-Sikh community, restricting their funeral rites and forcing the community to publicly identify themselves by wearing yellow armbands, it said.
The resolution rued that President Donald Trump has proposed resettling up to only 18,000 refugees for fiscal year 2020, in contrast to the Obama administration's proposal of 110,000 refugees for fiscal year 2016.