By SAT News Desk
MELBOURNE, 11 October 2021: The Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), Australia & New Zealand has urged the Victorian government to exempt the ‘Hindu Swastika’ when it bans the public display of Nazi symbols illegal in Victoria. It “advises caution about inadvertently targeting Hindus.” Basically, the point being that the Nazi symbol and the Hindu Swastika are different. And, the Hindu Swastika has no connection to the Nazi symbol, a symbol of fascism and hate.
In a media statement Emailed to SAT, the HfHR informs the state government, “We are writing to you on behalf of Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), an advocacy organisation that provides a platform for progressive Hindus to speak out in support of democratic freedoms and pluralism.”
The rest of the release says:
“Hindus for Human Rights applauds the Victorian Government’s decision to make the public display of Nazi symbols illegal. Recent anti-Semitic incidents have used Nazi imagery to target Jewish Australians, and a ban on hateful imagery would help diverse Victorians feel safe in their communities. However, HfHR is concerned that without specific language exempting the Hindu Swastika from scrutiny, Hindus could inadvertently become a target of these new laws.
The word “swastika” means “conducive to well-being” in Sanskrit. While the Swastika was used by the Nazis as a symbol of hate, it was originally used by Hindus as a symbol of prosperity and good luck, and Hindus continue to use the symbol to represent the faith today. Buddhists also consider the symbol to be sacred, representing the footprints of Buddha. Swastikas are often present on the doorsteps of homes, and people often wear the swastika on jewelry for good luck. The Hindu swastika and Nazi Hakenkreuz also look completely different.
Most Hindu Australians are aware of the history of the Holocaust and the implications of the Swastika in Western society and do not generally display the symbol in public. However, for Hindus, the outright banning of this symbol is hurtful, saying a beautiful symbol of faith, stolen in the name of genocide, is inherently evil. Under these new laws, Hindus may also risk facing significant fines and jail time. For people who have recently immigrated and are unfamiliar with the Nazi swastika, this law could cause particularly dangerous consequences.
HfHR recommends that any statutes, policies, or other legal documents created to ban Nazi imagery create an exemption for the Hindu Swastika. Guidance to enforcement agencies must also explain the difference between the Nazi and Hindu swastikas to avoid inadvertent targeting of the Hindu community.
Hindus for Human Rights – Australia and New Zealand (HfHR-ANZ) is the Australian and Aotearoa branch of Hindus for Human Rights USA, which was founded in 2019. We advocate for pluralism and human rights in South Asia and beyond, rooted in the values of our Hindu faith: shanti (peace), nyaya (justice) and satya (truth). We provide a Hindu voice of resistance to caste, Hindutva (Hindu majoritarianism), and all forms of bigotry and oppression. We work with a broad coalition of partners to educate elected officials and the public in Australasia about human rights issues in South Asia. Our advocacy takes many forms, including government briefings, peaceful protests, op-eds, webinars, conferences, and social media mobilisation.”