How is the minority people in Bangladesh?


By Jahangir Alam Akash: The overall situation of Bangladesh is like “Justice has been confined by Injust”. Bangladesh Awami League led Grand alliance government wants to continue with “Bismillah” and “state religion as “Islam” in the Constitution. So, broadly there is no different between Awami League and BNP-Jammat regarding communalism. Most of the political parties excluding some leftists party, are using religion in the politics. Though it is very true that state is for all, but religion is an individual matter.

Here I would like to mention a historical truth. That is, Bangladesh has been a secular state since the independence (1971) from Pakistan which was founded by Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Unfortunately, the islamism has been raising in recent Bangladesh. Present government has declared a policy on women. Though policy is not law. In spite of, non secular and religion based political parties led by Mufti Fazlul Haque Aminee are trying to make violance in the country. The people knows that they are always against the freedom of women and empowerment of women.

On the other hand a relative of Prime Minister’s APS Saifuzzaman Shekhor has been grabed a dwelling house of a minority in Magura. After this incident Krishnapod Sarker went to the local police station to make complain against grabing. But the officer in charge of that police station has tortured him and confined him for 24 hours. The victim is an aged person. A freedom Fighter Nirapod Boiragi has been killed by Rapid Action Battalion during this government. Indigenous leader Kalpona Chakma has still missing. She was kidnapped by Army 14 years ago. Two mothers of Sushanto and Sufal are waiting for their loving sons deadbodies who were inhumanly killed by the Islamist terrorists in 2004. An eminent scientist and Professor Emirats Dr. Arun Basak has been harassed by the influentials with the help of local Mayor in Rajshahi.

General Zia and his predecessors introduced persecution against the minorities in Bangladesh. Bangladesh became Islamized under the military regime, rather than being a true parliamentary democracy. Bangladesh was not born with the blessing of being united beyond ethnic and religious differences, but rather has been Islamized, yet with a secular policy.

Why is the repression of minorities and indigenous peoples still going on in Bangladesh? Bangladesh’s Awami League is now in power. They have always gotten the minority and indigenous votes, with some exceptions. And it has been 40 years since Bangladesh became independent. Enemy or vested property is a black law and it’s a gross tool for minority repression. Our demand is that, this black law should be abolished immediately and the ceased property should be returned to real owners or their relatives.

Religious minority oppression is a common phenomenon in Bangladesh. Every day, minority oppression is growing at an alarming rate. Yet our government is not doing its duty to safeguard the minority groups. Why aren’t they doing something to stop minority torture? We don’t know. But we have been seeing that most of the perpetrators are linked with the ruling party. People think that the present government may be turning a blind eye at minority issues. We want to say clearly that the people do not want to see the issue ignored, but rather, that they want to see peace and happiness.

In Bangladesh, the brutal persecution of the Hindu, Christian religious minority and indigenous ethnic minorities is going ahead with full steam. Until now, the persecution that both communities faced never saw the light of justice. A culture of the denial of justice in Bangladesh is the root of all the persecution against the ethnic and religious minorities, which isn’t only affecting a part of the country, but is plaguing the entire criminal justice system in Bangladesh.

Torture of minorities continues as we talk. When will it come to an end, and why doesn’t the government take action against the perpetrators of minority torture? In Bangladesh, every day, there have been cases of murder, attempted murder, torture, and other forms of inhumanity. Is Bangladesh a democratic and civilized country? How can we say that it’s a civilized and democratic country?

In Bangladesh, crimes against humanity have become widespread, especially against minorities. Almost every day, minority people leave for the neighbor country, India. Minority women are constantly afraid for their security. Peace, good governance, rule of law, and democracy are nonexistent in Bangladesh. Perpetrators get impunity from the state. As a result, there is a constant increase in all kinds of criminal activities in our dear Bangladesh. At the same time, sectarianism has increased rapidly. And our religious minorities are suffering.

Majority Muslims are occupying the minorities’ lands, torturing them, and raping their women. It is a common practice. Everything has been happening in front of the eyes of the government. The present ruling party is always telling us that they are nonsectarian. Yet, they are failing to stop minority oppression, and the torture of minorities is still happening in Bangladesh.

We see from the media that ruling party members are taking away land that belongs to minorities. The people of Bangladesh have not forgotten the oppression of minorities that took place after the general election of 2001. It is true that our minority peoples faced grievous trouble under the BNP/Jamaat-E-Islam alliance government that ruled from 2001 to 2006. During that regime, BNP/Jamaat party members were committing murder, rape, and vandalism against minorities.
Bangladesh was born as a nation after nine months of fighting for freedom. With independence, four main components were established for the nation, namely, democracy, nationalism, secularism, and socialism. With an almost good constitution, Bangladesh was beginning to make progress forward. However, the constitution did not recognize our indigenous communities. Even today, indigenous peoples are not recognized by the constitution. The present government has the support of the majority in Bangladesh; if they wanted to reestablish 1972 constitution as it is, it would be no problem for them. But the government has been in power for over two years, and they still haven’t taken any steps in that direction. Though, the High Court has been declared illegall 5th and 7th amendment of the constitution. Now the government wants to reestabilish 1972 Constitution but not excluding the Bismillah from the Constitution and not exclude the state religion Islam.

Under the force of Islamization, the preamble of Bangladesh’s constitution has been amended to include the words “…pledging that the high ideals of absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah…”, and, in the process, the word “secularism” has been dropped. The constitution, in fact, begins with the words “Bismillah-ar-rahman-ar-rahim”, which means “In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful,” which words come from Islam. In Bangladesh, the completion of Islamization is happening everywhere.

In this situation, we demand that the unconstitutional provision concerning a state religion in the Constitution of Bangladesh be repealed. All activities of discrimination, disparity, arrests, torture, detention, and oppression against religious minorities, as well as all people in general, shall have to be stopped. We don’t want a religious state; we want a secular and democratic state, based on Bengali nationalism in the light of the four fundamental principles of the state that motivated the Bangladesh Liberation War and that constituted the dream of the father of the nation, Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Jammat-E-Islam is a communal party in Bangladesh, which was involved with war criminalities. BNP also has been upholding their non-secular attitude, which has introduced ‘Bismillah’ to our secular constitution. BNP-Jammat torture and kill our minority, it’s a natural, because they are fundamentalists. Though, this government is well known as a minority friendly government, but instead, minority repression is going on unabated. It’s very unfortunate to secular peoples.

The Local Influential boycotted & cut the hair of a Hindu-Dalit woman raped victim, because Muslim perpetrator raped her. Ms. Sabita Rani 25 a raped victim, wanted justice against the rapist, Jewel Kha, and as a result the powerful social leaders cut her hair and boycotted her and her family members. The leaders also threatened her mother and younger brother for dire consequence if she continues to stay at the village Nilam Kharida Sadar Taluk within Kaonia Upazila of Rangpur district in Bangladesh. A college girl Koli Goswami (21) was kidnapped and forceful converted to Islam in Ghosai Chandura, Upazila – Nandail district-Mymensingh on 13th June 2009.

According to the oldest Bengali newspaper the daily Sangbad, Properties belonging to minorities in the Sherpur District were occupied by force by a Juba League leader, while shops were demolished and women injured. A group of hoodlums under the leadership of Hafizur Rahman Hafiz and his elder brother, Azizur Rahman Aziz, the cultural secretary of the Juba League occupied by force 283 square meters of land belonging to a Hindu owner, Surjya Kanta Debnath. In connection with this, allegations were made by the victim’s family that two shops were demolished and that their daughter, Ms. Lipi Debnath, was physically assaulted. Twenty minority families from the Sonagazi-Feni district are on the run because of the continuous kidnapping of women and children and the forceful collection of money. More than 20 minority families located in the villages of Kazir Hat and Keramatia, in the Sonagazi Sub district of Feni, fled due to continuous threats and atrocities perpetrated by local Muslims. They left their homes from fear of life. In another report, daily Star wrote: ‘”Rajshahi board boss faces mayor’s fury.” The Mayor of Rajshahi Khairuzzaman Liton. An influential Muslim threatened Rajshahi Board Chairman Dr. Prodeep, a Hindu, because mayor’s daughter was not able to good grade in the school final examination.

We want justice for all kinds of killings, torture, and human rights violations. Under the present government, numerous incidents of minority torture have taken place, including the sensational kidnapping of nine minorities (including women and children) in the Sutrapur area of Dhaka. A gang of criminals attacked three Hindu families in the Dighalkandi Sahapara village of the Puthia Upazila of Rajshahi on the night of Aug. 31, 2009, injuring 12 people. The attackers belong with BNP-Jammat. A Hindu woman Radha Rani Halder (28) in Shoriotpur was gang raped recently. And three minority peoples were killed during this regime.

The patriotic journalist Manik Saha was killed by a bomb attack in 2004. Another honest journalist, Diponker Chakraborty from Bogura, was killed by terrorists. From Faridpur, the promising journalist Goutam Das was killed. Principal Gopal Krishna Muhury was killed. All Bengali people know about the young minority girl named Purnima who was gang raped in Sirajgonj. And these were all preplanned incidents. No investigations have taken place and justice had never been served against killing of indigenous community leaders, including Alfred Soren and Choles Ritchil.

We know Bangladesh has no actual democracy, rule of law or education. Most of the people are living in very poor conditions. The obvious problem is that, constitutionally, Islam is the only religion of Bangladesh. But in Bangladesh, there live Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and Buddhists. We have had a secular constitution since our country’s independence. After the killings of Bongobondhu, two generals ruled Bangladesh and made it a monolithic Islamic country.

We hope that the present government will take immediate action against minority and indigenous persecution. And our demand is that all the perpetrators should be brought under justice. Now there is a democratic government. So, what is the problem in stopping minority torture and extrajudicial killings? Let us be united and fight and pressure the present government to stop minority repression and state torture.

We want the legitimate demands of the aboriginal and tribal communities to be fulfilled, including the preservation of their distinct cultures and heritage, and the implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Treaty. Clash and human rights violation are going on in CHT. It should be stopped with justice. We want the return of vested property, with a provision of inheritance, to be implemented. We want the government to resist sectarianism, fundamentalism, and fanaticism and to put a stop to all kinds of religious discrimination, deprivation, atrocities, persecution, and harassment.

The attack on the religious minority brings with it the idea of “Islam in the constitution”. The communal spirit began with political motives and ended in mass destruction such as the attack on present Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina back in 2001. The victims of the brutal attack are still looking for justice. At that time also, a bomb attack killed 10 and badly injured 20 others at the Baniarhar Catholic church in Maksudpur, in the Gopalganj district.

In 1998, an indigenous leader, Alfred Soren, was brutally killed by those in power. The day of the attack, the perpetrators looted his house, destroyed his belongings, and set the house on fire. Until now, his family members and the public have never seen the light of justice. Cholesh Richil, an indigenous Christian leader, died in custody on March 18, 2007, following brutal torture at the hands of the army. Richil’s civil rights were grossly violated by government agents. It is puzzling why the government has not yet made a proper investigation to unearth the mystery behind this leader’s death. The perpetrators of this crime should not have impunity. The killing of Richil has not been filed as a criminal case to date.

From 1979 to 1981, the indigenous people of Bangladesh became cornered by landless people from the mainland in the process of their rehabilitation by the government. An ill-fated ten-year-old indigenous child, Klanto Chiham, was killed by brutal teachers after being tortured at Maymansingh. A dacoit, or robber, killed a Christian school teacher, Mangsang, at Madhupur in Tangail. A member of an even smaller minority, Dr. Goni Gomes, a converted Christian from Islam, was killed by Islamic militants.

According to the GHRD, On 17 February 2011, Bengali settlers from the Gulshakhali settler area, Longadu Upazila, Rangamati district in the Chittagong Hill Tracts attacked and set fire to the Jumma villages of Gulshakhali and Rangi Para areas. Around 23 Jumma homes were burnt to ashes. The event occurred shortly after the death of a Bengali settler who went to collect firewood in the forest and did not return. Later his body was found in Rangipara. The Bengali settlers then carried his dead body during the demonstrations, accusing the Jumma of being responsible for his death. They mounted an arson attack burning around 23 Jumma houses and one school to ashes and injuring two Jumma students.

Sources said, Shila Mollik is a NGO worker from Madaripur. In October, 2010 she went to the Madaripur police station to file a case of police negligence regarding the attempted murder of her husband. The then superintendent of police attempted to persuade her to remove her case through means of torture, hitting her with a cane and dragging her by her hair.

In February, 2010 Serafina Mardi, a 14 year old minority girl committed suicide by setting herself on fire. She later died on 17 February of severe burns. Serafina was gang raped by in April 2010. She was initially filed a complaint with the police against the rapists but it was not pursued. The rapists were influential in the local community and the accused men forced her family to agree to an out of court settlement in exchange for money. As part of the settlement, orchestrated through village arbitration, her family forced her to marry one of the rapists. On 10 February 2011, a 22 year-old Jumma woman was raped by two Bengali settlers in Naikhyongchari Upazila district in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Despite the perpetrators being identified, none have been arrested. You canread more and details information on minority and Indigenous persecution in the book “PAIN” (http://www.amazon.de/Pain-Jahangir-Alam-Akash/dp/1456858025).

We urge the enlightened citizens of Bangladesh to be united and to do something for minority rights and security. Please forget politics. As human rights defenders, we should be impartial, universal, and dedicated to human rights not for Hasina, Khaleda or Nizami.

The constitution does not give proper identity to the indigenous peoples. This is Bangladesh! We demand that these persecutions stop right now and that the government give all rights to the minority groups and bring the perpetrators to justice. Without real democracy, rule of law, and good governance, how can anyone have hope that the government will punish the real culprits and masterminds of minority torture and other human rights violations? We are waiting eagerly for the competent trial of all war criminals, for the justice to be served to the killers of the four national leaders. We also want to see the current government reestablish the constitution of 1972 as it is which was got just after independence and stop mixing politics with religion.

Prime Minister, and daughter of Bangabondhu, Sheikh Hasina, please opens your eyes to the minority community. Don’t you see what is happening? One of your APS Mr. Shekhor is using his power to grab the minority lands. He can could done it because he is an APS of the Prime Minister. You have power as the Prime Minister; why don’t you take action against the perpetrators of minority suppression? You still have time to use your power for rule of law, human rights and against all kinds of oppression. Please safeguard our minority peoples and their possessions. Bangladesh should governed in the line of secularism where would havn’t any discrimination and injust. People needs and wants corruption and injustfree justice, equality and good governance from the ruler.
Writer:Jahangir Alam Akash, Editor of Euro Bangla (http://www.eurobangla.org/), editor.eurobangla@yahoo.de

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