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Question 1
Are you aware of the horrific violent attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh? What is your opinion on this?

Answer
Yes. The Cabinet strongly disapproves of this. Everyone should have the right to make his or her religious or philosophical choices. Unfortunately, there is increasing intolerance on the basis of religion or belief worldwide. For this reason, freedom of religion and belief is an important priority of Dutch human rights policy.

Question 2
Are you aware these attacks are carried out by Muslims? What is your opinion on this?

Answer
As far as is known, the identity of the perpetrators has not yet been determined. Some suspects have been arrested but the investigation by the authorities in Bangladesh is still ongoing. Regardless of the background of the perpetrators, these attacks are horrific.

 

Question 3
Are you aware that Hindu houses, places of worship and shops are being set on fire in Bangladesh? What is your opinion on this?

Answer
Yes. The Cabinet strongly disapproves of such attacks. As indicated in question 1, the right for everyone to make his or her religious choice is an important part of Dutch human rights policy.

 

Question 4
Are you aware of the fact that violent attacks against minorities such as Hindus, in majority Muslim Bangladesh, have increased in recent years? What is your opinion on this?

Answer
Yes, this increase is worrying. It indicates a sharpening of religious contrasts, which has a negative effect on human rights in Bangladesh.

 

Question 5
Do you agree that these atrocities are unacceptable and that they are far too little publicized in the Western world? What is the cause of this in your opinion? Are you willing to help change that? If not, why not?

Answer
The Cabinet strongly condemns any form of violence against religious minorities and monitors worldwide developments in this regard, including Bangladesh. Freedom of religion in Bangladesh is regularly reported, for example in the US State Department report on International Religious Freedom and the report by Open Doors of 2021.

Human rights in Bangladesh are the subject of both bilateral and EU political consultations and visits by the Human Rights Ambassador (planned for 2023). In May, the EU-Bangladesh joint commission took place where human rights were prominently on the agenda.

 

Question 6
Do you agree that it is striking that violence against Muslims is often widely reported in the media, but at the same time violence by Muslims is often swept under the rug? If so, do you have an explanation for this? If not, why not?

Answer
It is not up to the Cabinet to make a judgment about the relative frequency with which specific violence receives attention in the media. As indicated, the right of everyone to make his or her philosophical or religious choices is an important part of Dutch human rights policy. In that context, the Cabinet monitors religious violence worldwide, regardless of the motives or background of the perpetrators. Annually, the cabinet answers Parliamentary questions in response to reports from the organization Open Doors regarding religious persecution in many countries. In those answers, the Cabinet will, according to its ability, address numbers, frequency, causes and motives. In 2021, the situation in India was also addressed.

 

Question 7
Do you remember the courageous Nupur Sharma - and the facts about Mohammed she was provoked to state in a televised debate last May? Do you share my view that it is unacceptable that she was subsequently threatened with death, had to go into hiding and face criminal charges for speaking the truth? Are you prepared to show your support for Nupur Sharma to the Indian government? If not, why not?

 

Answer
The cabinet is familiar with the statements made by Ms Nupur Sharma and strongly disapproves of the death threats against her. The decision whether or not to prosecute her is up to the Indian judicial authorities. Currently, Nupur Sharma is not being prosecuted and the Indian Supreme Court has issued a temporary measure protecting her from arrest.

 

Question 8
Are you aware of the beheading by two Muslim men of a Hindu tailor, who had supported Nupur Sharma on social media? What is your opinion on this?

Answer
The cabinet is aware of this, and strongly disapproves the horrific violence. This murder has also been condemned by parties across the width of the Indian political spectrum. The perpetrators were arrested shortly after the murder, and will be tried under Indian criminal law.

 

Question 9
Are you aware that because of my support for Nupur Sharma I am frequently threatened with death from, among others, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan? What is your opinion on that? Will the suspects be tracked down and prosecuted? What international steps will you take to this end?

Answer
The Cabinet is aware of this, and strongly disapproves threats of any kind. Threats, especially those to democratically elected politicians, are unacceptable and have no place in the Dutch democratic legal order. With regard to threats from Pakistan, you are referred to the answers to previous questions asked by the Chamber of 21 April and 22 April 2022 . The Cabinet’s serious concerns about this matter are regularly brought to the attention of the Pakistani authorities.

 

Question 10
Are you willing to openly support the Hindus in Bangladesh and India and other countries, and to contact the governments of Bangladesh and India to that end? If not, why not?

Answer
The Netherlands, directly and through the EU, calls attention to the rights of all persons regardless of their religion or identity, and the responsibility of governments in this regard.
Special attention is paid protecting the freedom of expression and the freedom of religion and belief. The improvement of human rights in Bangladesh is the subject of both bilateral and EU political consultations, as well as visits by the Human Rights Ambassador (planned for 2023). In May, the EU-Bangladesh joint commission took place where human rights were prominently on the agenda (see also: the answer to question 5).

In India, the Netherlands contributes to the implementation of the EU Human Rights and Democracy Country Strategy for India, and supports the EU in the dialogue with the Indian authorities. The dialogue recently took place, in June. Also in April this year, the visit of EU Special Envoy for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore took place. Projects are implemented through the local human rights fund in the field of freedom of religion or belief, effective legal protection, combating hate speech and disinformation and supporting interfaith dialogue, including in schools and universities.

 

Question 11
Are you also prepared to openly condemn the violence of Muslims against Hindus? If not, why not?

Answer
The Cabinet strongly disapproves of any form of violence, regardless of the motives or background of the perpetrators.

 

Question 12
Are you prepared to plead with the governments of both India and Bangladesh for better protection of the Hindus in their countries? If not, why not?

Answer
The Netherlands advocates an inclusive society, in which the rights of minority groups, equality and freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief are guaranteed. The answers to questions 5 and 10 deal with the Netherlands' efforts on this matter in Bangladesh and India. It may be added that next September the United Nations General Assembly is organizing a special “High Level Meeting” in honor of the thirtieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. This provides a good opportunity for a global evaluation.

 

Question 13
Would you like to answer these questions separately for each question?

Answer
Yes.

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