Rep. Tulsi Gabbard To Introduce Bengali Religious Freedom Resolution

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is set to introduce a resolution to the House floor in support of International Yoga Day and another that would address religious freedom in Bangladesh.

On Monday, Members of Congress and staffers were invited to join the Hindu American Foundation for “Yoga on the Hill,” in commemoration of International Yoga Day. The session was meant to provide a time and space for stressed out federal employees to feel the benefits of the ancient Hindu practice.

Yoga session in the Cannon House building. Photo/Loree Lewis TRNS

The United Nations recently recognized International Yoga Day as a way to promote peaceful relations and public health worldwide. Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who co-sponsored the yoga session, plans to introduce a resolution to the House floor that would acknowledge Yoga Day on a federal level.

“There are various different practices of yoga, all of which can really bring tremendous peace and harmony and happiness when practiced.”

The event came as she prepares to introduce another resolution to the House floor that would address the religious freedoms of Hindus in Bangladesh. Gabbard is working on the resolution with Sheetal Shah, the Senior Director of the Hindu American Foundation. Shah says that right now, decades after the 1947 Partition of Bengal, the situation for most religious minorities in Bangladesh is quite dire.

“Hundreds of hindu temples have been burnt down. There have been kidnappings of hindu women and young children. Kids are bullied at school for having different belief systems. Shops are looted, homes are destroyed, so it’s kind of an issue that unfortunately is not just taking place by random groups but the government that’s in power is not doing anything to really stop it and the opposition government continues to foster this type of violence.”

Yogis wait for members of congress to begin their session in the Cannon House Building. Photo/Loree Lewis TRNS

Shah says that imports to the US from Bangladesh often don’t take into account the high cost of human rights violations in the southeast Asian country. The United States in the 2014 fiscal year imported just over 500 million dollars worth of goods and services from Bangladesh, census data reports. She says that while national news outlets reported on garment industry worker violations following the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster, the coverage doesn’t go far enough.

“I think that the resolution is just one step in at least showing that Congress is aware of the situation and acknowledges that something more needs to be done.”

The resolution is expected to be introduced to the floor by week’s end.

For the Talk Radio News Service, I’m Claire Woodcock, with additional reporting from Loree Lewis.