Richard Benkin

American journalist

Dr. Richard Benkin is an American-Jewish human rights activist, co-founder of 'Interfaith Strength', journalist, writer and lecturer.


  • Brutalized and penniless, the refugees fled to the world's largest Hindu country right next door. But the area bordering Bangladesh, West Bengal, has had a communist governemntn since 1977 and offered no succor. Rigid atheists, the communists reject any bonds of faith in favor of their internationalist goals and have thrown their lot in with the Islamists. VPA victims have been put in camps then sent on forced marches when the government decided to seize the land. The West Bengal Stalinists refuse to recognize them as refugees or give them any legal standing, though many of them have been living there for decades. It also hast turned a blind eye to cross-border attacks and further Muslim atrocities.
    • R. Benkin, New evidence of Red, Islamist cooperation. Oct 3 , 2007. in Benkin, Richard L. (2014). A quiet case of ethnic cleansing: The murder of Bangladesh's Hindus., p.143

A quiet case of ethnic cleansing: The murder of Bangladesh's Hindus (2012)

  • Rabindra Ghosh, I said " has extensive evidence that there are Members of Parliament heavily involved in stealing land from Hindus, and even in rapes and other atrocities. You know what your enemies think of you as you sit next to them smiling? 'We can steal their land, rape their daughters and sisters, and just give them a few Taka.'" (xiii)
  • Since its birth as an independent nation in 1971, Bangladesh has implemented a number of measures to expand the constitutional and legal role of Islam, while institutionalizing prejudice and bigotry against its minority Hindu population. Hindus have also faced routine acts of violence, including murders, rapes, forced conversions, temple attacks, abductions, and land encroachments. Religiously motivated violence in Bangladesh has particularly impacted Hindu women and young girls, and has been utilized as a weapon of subjugation. (xvii, Samir Kalra)
  • Hindus comprised approximately 33% of the population in 1947... but were less than 20% by 1971. And in 2001, Hindus represented less than 10% of the population, while today many sources estimate that Hindus are only 8%. (xviii, Samir Kalra)
  • This book contains quite a few references to Nazi Germany, and there is a tendency for many people to discount such comparisons because they are so overused and often in simplistic and inappropriate ways. I am no less tolerant of such facile uses of a horrific set of events; and I find their overuse an insult to the memories of the victims. But I am using it rather extensively in this book precisely because the parallel is appropriate, certainly in the similar end foreseen by Islamists for Bengali Hindus and Nazis for Jews. If that recognition awakens the world to action, then this will be one of the most important uses of the comparison since World War II. (6-7)
  • In 1951, after the dust of Partition-era transfers settled, the ratio of Muslims to Hindus in East Bengal was about three and a half to one. Three years after Bangladesh won its independence, the ratio of Muslims to Hindus was still only a little higher than six to one,. By 2001, Muslims outnumbered Hindus by a ratio of almost eleven and a half to one. Bangladesh's Hindu population is dying. (30)
  • A the time of India's partition in 1947, they made up a little less than a third of East Pakistan's population. When East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971, Hindus were less than a fifth; thirty years later, less than one in ten; and several estimates put the Hindu population at less than eight percent today. (30)
  • The trajectory is clear and immutable; matter that the land is dotted with Hindu historical and religious sites, although they are being destroyed or left to rot.(30)
  • What resources have the Bangladeshi Hindus? .... Flushed with passion after meeting with scores of refugees in 2008, I returned to AI's web site and scoured it in search of some outrage - any outrage -over what is so apparent in South Asia; but my search was in vain. ... To date Amnesty International has yet to show any stomach for opposing what could be the worst case of ethnic cleansing in our time.
    One could advance any number of reasons for their silence. Is it because the victims are Hindu; or the victimizers Muslim? Are they simply moral cowards; or do they just not care? Perhaps it is a case of AI placing ideology above principle... The last time AI, or HRW for that matter, gave the Bangladeshi Hindus even passing mention was in 2006. (Oxfam never has.) In its 2010 report on Bangladesh, AI shockingly did not even mention the oppression of Hindus; a horrid disgrace, that encourages the human rights atrocities those very organizations claim to be fighting! (32-33)
  • It was able to recover and produce numerous documents that included written orders to Pakistani troops and their irregular allies to kill as many Hindus as possible. (35)
  • I have seen the victims and in one remote corner of Northeast India in March 2009, I stared into the eyes of a 14-year old Hindu girl as she told of being raped by Muslims because she is a Hindu. (42)
  • Thousands of Hindu and Sikh girls were gang raped by fanatic Islamists. (48, quoting Narain Kataria, 2010).
  • In "Hindu Genocide in East Pakistan", Shrinandan Vyas synthesizes data from several sources to demonstrate that Hindus were indeed thee atackers' "primary target." (73)
  • One incident that is becoming more and more common was related to me in almost every colony I visited between 2008 and 2010: the random abduction of young Hindu women and girls. With a numbing consistency, their testimonies would tell of a young female walking by the side of the road. In some cases, she was going to draw water; in others she was on her way to school; and in some, she was just walking o her way to see a relative or friend. out of the blue, a gang of Muslims would drive up and snatch the woman and then take her to a vacant building or field and rape her repeatedly. (85)
  • On January 1, 14-year-old Subarna Karmaker was walking home from school in Kalapara in the state of Barisal. Several Muslim males led by a local Muslim identified as Jewel, age 22, grabbed her. They forced the girl onto their motorcycle, and fled. Subarna cried loudly for help, but no one came to her aid. Her father went to the police and complained, but was told that they knew of no crime and would not take any action. Subarna remains missing. (97)
  • A group of Muslims gang raped a 14-year-old Hindu girl and berated her for being hindu. She at first said they "chased" her and on furhter questioning said they "caught her and did bad things to her." (98)
  • 15 year old Fulfuli Rani Roy was kidnapped by local Muslims from Dolapar in the state of Rajshahi. Her father filed a complaint with the local police, identifying the perpetrator as Mahabul Islam, the son of Rayaz Uddinbut. The police, however, said that they would not pursue a case in nthe matter, refusing as well to try and located and recover the girl. As a result, Fulfuli Rani Roy has not been seen or heard from since, and her father along with others allege that her kidnappers murdered her. (99)
  • On March 13, three-year old Milon Moni Das was abducted by local Muslims.... a neighbour found the Hindu child dead in some bushes.... Police then took one Muslim into custody, but released him after intervention by the local Awami League chairman. There has been no further action.... (99)
  • Jenny Lundstrom, who is a human rights officer for Global Human Defence in the Hague, is a tireless advocate for putting an end to the anti-Hindu violence in Bangladesh. She notes that according to one source, "200,000 Bengali women were raped with a genocidal motive during the 1971 war." She also refers to "mass rapes of Bangladeshi women in the 1970s and 1980s" as a precedent for using rape support genocide since then, including cites 1,000 rapes of Hindu women and girls in the immediate aftermath of the 2001 election. (p. 100, citing Lundstrom, "With Intent to Destroy? Rape as Genocide under International Criminal Law: The case of Bangladesh, 2007")
  • The case involves a Hindu woman named Koli Goswami. ... The local Awami League MP, Retired General Abdus Salam, was present during this episode and threatened him with "dire consequences" should he proceed with the case any further or dispute the conversion. (102-6)
  • Reports began trickling out of Bangladesh in the spring of 2009 about what can only be described as an anti-Hindu pogrom in the heart of its capital. ... This is not about one terrible event, but about a system of legalized ethnic cleansing that has proceeded non-stop for decades and which places every one of Bangladesh's 13-15,000,000 Hindus at risk. The Sutrapur pogrom merely provides more evidence that government protestations to the contrary, normal legal protections are suspended for Hindus and other minorities in Bangladesh who are subject to arbitrary actions by the Muslim majority. (112-114)
  • Pogroms were initially anti-Jewish riots in the empire of Czarist Russia.... What makes the term particularly apt in this incident is the fact that this anti-Hindu pogrom was also carried out by average (Muslim) citizens, but the entire process was inspired by the government , abetted by it, and the perpetrators were protected by it. It is this unholy wedding of mob action and deliberate government effort that makes it truly an anti-Hindu pogrom. (112-113)
  • The embassy [in Washington], however, has not commented on incidents of anti-Hindu violence in Bangladesh from 2009 forward; a period roughly consonant with the installation of the Awami League government in Bangladesh...(117)
  • In April (2008), 5 Muslims abducted 19-year old Durga Singh from Kolkata's Shibpur tram depot.... This happened after he protested the actions of.... a group of Muslims who would "molest [Hindu] girls" in Kolkata's Ghoshbagan area. The West Bengal government did not file any charges in this case.
  • The attack on Bangladeshi Hindus is a crime against humanity. In and of itself, it is severe enough to spur our moral outrage and cause us to take action to stop it. But to make matters worse, it has been spreading across that open border into West Bengal, India. One would think these Hindu victims of Islamist terror would find a safe haven in the largest Hindu nation on earth, but they have not.
    • Benkin, Richard L. (2012). A quiet case of ethnic cleansing: The murder of Bangladesh's Hindus. New Delhi: Akshaya Prakashan. p.142.
  • In June (2008), a large mob of approximately 5,000 Muslim fundamentalists, "comprised mostly of Bangladeshi infiltrators", attacked a major religious gathering of Hindus at one of their holiest sites at one of the pilgrimage points of Gangasagar in West Bengal. They outnumbered the pilgrims by 25 to one, and focused assaults on women and children... the West Bengal police... did not charge any of them. But in a move reminiscent of Nazi Germany, which would charge the Jewish community when they were attacked, the West Bengal government arrested 15 of the religious pilgrims "under several sections of the Indian Penal Code for inciting communal disharmony, while the perpetrators roam Scott free." (152-3, citing Survey of Hindu Human Rights West Bengal)
  • In October (2008), Hindus were in the midst of celebrating one of their most important holidays, Durga Puja. "Religious fundamentalists... cut off the power supply and vandalized the pandal and hung up the severed leg of a cow." (154)
  • Every Hindu with whom we spoke said the women of the house could not go to market or anywhere else without harassment and threats of sexual assault. Their children could not attend school because of the threats. (158)
  • The most poignant testimony came from a woman in the village of Norit. She told us how five weeks before our visit, Muslims abducted her 22-year old daughter, and she has not been seen since. (159)
  • Scholars, journalists, activists, and others have an almost knee-jerk tendency to praise Bangladesh's beginnings as a secular nation and trace its slide into Islamist domination from the 1975 assassination of its founding father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. That praise is warranted - but only to a limited extent, for secularism and any semblance of democratic ideals were in their death throes long before Sheikh Mujib was.
    • Benkin, Richard L. (2012). A quiet case of ethnic cleansing: The murder of Bangladesh's Hindus. New Delhi: Akshaya Prakashan. p.167
  • What we must understand is this: The Vested Property Act is legalized racism and legalized thievery. The fact that the Bangladeshi government has refused to repeal it, let alone compensate the victims, makes it quite clear that it is not interested in developing a society that allows freedom and equal protection under the law for all of its citizens. (176)
  • While the act has been used against other religious and ethnic minorities on occasion, only Hindus have faced a consistent and organized effort to use the law to eliminate them from the Bangladeshi polity. Hindus are the VPA's real targets. Professor Abul Barkat of Dhaka University undertook the most authoritative study of the VPA and concluded that by 1997, 40 percent of Hindu families in Bangladesh had been affected by it and more than half of all Hindu-owned land already had been confiscated under thee act. Much more land and many more Hindus have been affected in the fourteen years since then. So, there is no doubt that the VPA is a critical ingredient in ethnic cleansing. The fact that the percent of Hindus in Bangladesh has been cut in half concurrent with the act is evidence of those even more sinister, ethnic cleansing, motives behind the law. (177)
  • The VPA is so clearly immoral that the question of its being an outrage to every decent human being should not even be a legitimate topic for discussion among civilized individuals. There is no justification for it, and every Bangladeshi should be embarrassed by it. Trying to make a case for it is like trying to justify Holocaust denial.... Some appeasers in universities and elsewhere are now trying to say that holocaust denial is merely another point of view that is a legitimate topic for study. Nonsense!... Trying to justify the VPA is a racist lie, too. (177)
  • In an attack that was clearly planned in advance with the connivance of West Bengal authorities, a mob supposedly acting out of spontaneous outrage descended upon the workshop [by Tapan Ghosh] while loudly denouncing it as "communal." (199)
  • One story men and women both told me repeatedly involved abductions of young Hindu women in Bangladesh. They might be walking by the road or on their way to school when groups of Muslims would force them into vehicles, carry them off, and then rape them. (224)
  • Five Muslim men broke into Koli's family [Koli Goswami] at 12:45 am on Junne 13, 2009. ... they carried her away. Her family has not seen her since. To many Westerners, stories like this strain credulity. It simply is not within the realm of their experience. (230)
  • Nipa Banarjee (17), a Hindu school girl, was kidnapped December 1, 2010... The police have taken no action.... (231-2)
  • Bangladesh is heavily invested in advertising itself to Americans and other potential trading partners as a "moderate Muslim country." ... Over the last few decades, however, they have come more and more under the thumb of radical jihadis. Yet, they have not stopped trying to portray themselves as what they perhaps were at one point, and few Americans know that the reality is not what they are saying it is.
    • Benkin, Richard L. (2012). A quiet case of ethnic cleansing: The murder of Bangladesh's Hindus. New Delhi: Akshaya Prakashan. p.300.
  • Police refused to register the case and destroyed the evidence. Officials including Superitendant of Police have refused to lodge case, intimidated family, and taken bribes. (324)

What Is Moderate Islam

Richard L. Benkin in Richard L. Benkin (editor) - What Is Moderate Islam_-Lexington Books_Fortress Academic (2017)
  • The most severe anti-minority activity, however, has been directed at Hindus, in part because they are the largest religious minority, in part because of the larger Hindu-Muslim conflict that so characterizes South Asia. Hindus are not safe in Bangladesh; not from radicals, not from their government. They were almost a third of the population after the population transfers that accompanied the Indian subcontinent’s 1947 partition. After Bangladesh gained its independence, they were less than a fifth; thirty years later, less than one in ten; and several estimates put the Hindu population at less than 8 percent today
  • Professor Sachi Dastidar (2008) of the State University of New York estimates that about 49 million Hindus are missing from the Bangladeshi census. This is not a phenomenon, as apologists try to assert, that is a mere consequence of demography or the actions of a small group of radicals. Rather, as Samir Kalra (2012), Senior Director and Senior Human Rights Fellow of the Hindu American Foundation, notes, there have been “nearly 1,200 incidents of violence directed against religious minorities (mostly Hindus) between 2008 and 2011.”
  • The election of an Awami League government was supposed to herald an end to the ethnic cleansing of Hindus, but it did not. During their first term in office, major anti-Hindu atrocities occurred at an average of at least one per week for the entire five years. They included murder, rape, child abduction, forced conversion, severe assaults, land seizures, religious desecration and more. There were periods of intense anti-Hindu activity, for instance, a 26-day period in the Spring of 2010 that saw three a week; and a nine-day period in May 2012 with an abduction and disappearance, a murder in broad daylight, and two gang rapes; one of a child on her way to a Hindu festival (Ghosh 2012; Benkin 2015).[1
  • On February 16, 2013, Bangladesh Minority Watch (BDMW) President and Founder Rabindra Ghosh and I walked into the remote Hindu village of Balai Bazaar, which is part of Chirir Bandor Upazilla, located in the far northern Bangladeshi state of Dinajpur.[14] Several months prior, the village had been overrun by a marauding gang of angry Muslims. According to numerous villagers with whom we spoke, the attackers moved “from home to home, taking some possessions and destroying the rest; from farm to farm stealing livestock and destroying crops.” They torched homes, burning many to the ground; and they abused many of the women, an all-too-common feature of such attacks. One woman described in detail how she and her daughter fled to nearby fields and hid there until the attackers left. Other women testified to me that they were sexually assaulted, and several witnesses claimed to have seen “five women rounded up by the rioters, forcefully disrobed, and their clothing thrown in a large bonfire and left publicly naked.”
  • After independence, officials of the Bangladeshi government under Sheikh Mujibur Rahman reviewed the laws of Pakistan under which they previously lived. Their mandate was to ratify some and eliminate or change others. At one point, they encountered Pakistan’s Enemy Property Act, passed in 1965 after another embarrassing defeat at Indian hands as a retaliatory law against Hindus. The openly anti-Hindu nature of the law matched the national rhetoric before and during the war, as well as most of the time since. Significantly, this was one of the laws that Bangladeshi officials decided to keep on the new nation’s books. Since, however, it had to maintain the fiction of a break from Pakistani bigotry, it was circumspect about it. They changed the name of the law from Enemy Property Act to Vested Property Act while adopting the Pakistani law verbatim
  • According to Professor Abul Barkat (and Shafique uz Zaman 2008) of Dhaka University, after about thirty years of Bangladeshi rule, approximately 75 percent of all Hindu land in Bangladesh was seized under the VPA. Nor did it matter if the ruling party was the Awami League or the BNP. Barkat’s data showed that the percentage of the spoils did not depend on which party was in power but on the party in power. Whoever held power took essentially the same amount of loot. During BNP rule it was BNP 45 percent, Awami League 31, all others 24. During Awami League rule it was Awami League 44 percent, BNP 32, all others 24. Despite the enormous amount of property seized, Barkat also noted that only about 0.4 percent of the Bangladeshi population derives any of the proceeds; the greatest number of it goes to party loyalists
  • During my 2014 fact-finding trip to Assam, locals frequently impressed on me how they believe the influx of “infiltrators” from Bangladesh is not only changing Assam’s culture, ecology, and demographics; they also are building support for radical Islam inside the state (Benkin 2014). I have been tracking the demographic change in West Bengal for almost a decade and have seen village after village on the border with Bangladesh, formerly with robust Hindu and Muslim populations, become entirely Muslim, the Hindu population having been forced to leave. The growth of Islamism in West Bengal through the influx of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh is well-documented.
  • In 2015, the Bangladeshi Islamist party, Jamaat e-Islami, opened up a branch office in Kolkata, India. Extensive reporting alleged West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee helped funnel money to Jamaat inside Bangladesh (The Hindu 2014) and help Jamaat’s power in West Bengal politics grow (Banerjee 2015). By the end of November 2015, Banerjee appeared openly with Jamaat at a large public rally in Kolkata (Ali 2015).
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