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Wave of violent attacks against Hindus in Bangladesh: Amnesty International

March 9, 2013

Press release put out on 6 March by AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: A wave of violent attacks against Bangladesh’s minority Hindu community shows the urgent need for authorities to provide them with better protection, Amnesty International said.

Over the past week, individuals taking part in strikes called for by Islamic parties have vandalised more than 40 Hindu temples across Bangladesh.

Scores of shops and houses belonging to the Hindu community have also been burned down, leaving hundreds of people homeless.

The attacks come in the context of large scale violent protests that have been raging across Bangladesh for weeks over the country’s ongoing war crimes tribunal, the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT).

“The Hindu community in Bangladesh is at extreme risk, in particular at such a tense time in the country. It is shocking that they appear to be targeted simply for their religion. The authorities must ensure that they receive the protection they need,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh Researcher.

“All political parties in Bangladesh should condemn strongly any violence against the Hindu community, and to instruct all their members and supporters not to take part in such attacks.”

Survivors told Amnesty International that the attackers were taking part in rallies organised by the opposition Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and its student group Chhatra Shibir.

JI has publicly denied any involvement in violence against the Hindu community.

Attacks have happened across Bangladesh, but mostly in remote areas in the country. The latest attack took place today in Daudkandi village, south-eastern Comilla district, where a Hindu temple was vandalised and burned down.

One survivor told Amnesty International that on 28 February, his family’s village of Rajganj Bazar in the south-eastern Noakhali district was set on fire by people taking part in a JI-organised strike.

“They moved into our properties and set fire to 30 of our houses. Seventy-six families were living in these houses. They also set fire to our temples – all are now vanished,” the survivor said, who asked to remain anonymous out of concerns for his safety.

He said the authorities have provided temporary accommodation to the affected families, who had lost almost all their belongings to theft or destruction in the violence.

Another survivor said that on 2 March, a group of about 100 young men holding banners in support of JI looted and damaged four shops in Satkania near Chittagong and vandalised a Hindu temple in the village.

Bangladesh’s Hindu minority makes up only eight per cent of the population, and has historically been at risk of violence from the Muslim population – including during the independence war in 1971, and after elections in 2001.

“Given the obvious risks the Hindu minority faces in Bangladesh, these attacks were sadly predictable. We urge the authorities to take note of the violence and act to prevent further attacks,” said Faiz.

Tensions have been running high in Bangladesh in recent weeks as JI and its student wing have called strikes and mass protests against the ICT, which has found some of its senior members guilty for crimes committed during the 1971 war.

Protesters have also been involved in violent clashes with police, who have used tear gas, rubber bullets or live ammunition against them. At least 60 people have been killed, mostly by police fire, but among the dead are also several policemen.

“While there are credible reports that police firing may have followed violent attacks against them by protesters, police use of excessive force cannot be discounted”, Faiz said.

AI Index: PRE01/110/2013
22 Comments leave one →
  1. usman ahmed permalink
    March 9, 2013 9:44 PM

    When the people are punished due to personal vendetta and through kangro courts, it gives rise to voilence, a country’s social and religious make up cannot be changed by an agent of a country or to take revenge of her father. Still there is time to talk to opposition and settle on established social and democratic principles.Otherwise this divide will strengthen and more loss of life and property will be there.

    • kamal sarwar permalink
      March 19, 2013 7:21 PM

      FAO Mr Usman….I totally disagree with your so called jumbled up comment, where I simply could not ascertain what your statements or thoughts are..??? You mentioned people are punished due to personal vendetta and through kangaroo courts …!!! then you stated personal vendetta.!! Well my friend …
      “History is a clock people use to tell their historical culture and political time of the day. It’s a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography. The history tells them where they have been, where they are and what they are. But most importantly history tells a people where they still must go and what they still must be” My advice get your facts right and you might be able make informed comment on the situation of Bangladesh….!! Yes..I have lost family members in 1971 even not from a minority group alongside 3 million people that died with majority from Hindu community suffering for our freedom and sovereignty of Bangladesh…. !! Yes ..it was wave& wave of violence those days from Pak army and Razakars & Al-Badrs& Alshams…and today from Jamaat shibir!!!!

  2. March 9, 2013 10:06 PM

    We have Tamils being killed in Sri Lanka, Hindus in Bangladesh, Christians in Pakistan. Our own country is not without chauvinist attacks and killings.
    What should be done?
    Should we express sympathy or support on the basis of fellow Tamils/Hindus/Christians living in India? or
    Should we respond as Human beings and condemn all forms of violence?
    If we are truly against violence, Why do we condone violent acts by our own kind, be they Dalit, Hindu, Muslim, Tamil, Christian, Tribal, Caste or hundreds of other identities we burden ourselves with?

  3. c,z,haider permalink
    March 10, 2013 6:46 AM

    forty years back , i was an indian working in jamshedpur and there was planned communal riot, million muslim was slaughtered and i was saved by a dalit congress mp. i left for pakistan. as i felt that though born ,brought-up and educated in india, i have no security of life.i have landed properties in india and i pay tax but there is no provision for dual citizenship for muslims.

    • March 10, 2013 3:47 PM

      And what’s that got to do with the post above?

    • Nik permalink
      March 11, 2013 5:09 AM

      Million muslims were killed in Jamshedpur in the 70’s? Its too early for crazy even by Kafila commenter standards

    • Charan Singh Athwal permalink
      March 12, 2013 12:41 AM

      Why should there be dual nationality for Muslims from Pakistan?
      Pakistani Muslims left India to be Pakistanis.
      The Indian Government does not allow dual nationality for any Indian – wrongly I think – irrespective of what religion they belong to.
      Did moving to Pakistan provide any security, probably not as many more people are killed in Pakistan by mad suicide bombers than in India, and whats more those who are killed in India by terrorists are killed by the same brand of bombers.

      I think India should grant dual nationality to all Indians born in India after 1947 and to their family if they are of Indian origin, one of the reasons given by the Government, not to grant dual nationality, is that the citizens of hostile state such as Pakistan will also qualify for the citizenship of the country.
      I wholeheartedly condemn killing of innocent people no matter who they are.

  4. Mohammad permalink
    March 11, 2013 2:33 PM

    The events on the ground in Bangladesh can’t be looked upon with One eye.
    This piece reflects the reality although the dead is much higher than reported in the story:

    http://www.theinternational.org/articles/364-more-than-80-killed-in-clashes-over-bangl

    The spot of “Jubilation” is a small area in Dhaka called Shahbag. While more than 200 innocent civilian died nationwide in two days.

    Now get real how people see the verdict of an illegal kangaroo court.

    The court is illegal because:

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/toby-m-cadman/bangladesh-justice-damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-dont

  5. Anirban Gangopadhyay permalink
    March 12, 2013 1:41 AM

    This situation can be compared with modern India , where at the level of the superstructure, decadent feudalism is nurtured by capitalist degeneration. This odious alliance produces a situation where growing criminalization of the society, coexists and grows in the company of caste and communal feelings, which are exploited by the ruling classes for their political-electoral purposes. In the pursuit of this objective of the ruling class , all the leading war criminal-suspects who had fled Bangladesh after the liberation war and lost citizenship rights, were invited to return, which they did. Even Golam Azam, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami and widely regarded to be the principal war criminal among all local collaborators of the Pakistan army, was allowed to return to Bangladesh. Instead of facing arrest and charges, Azam was allowed to quietly begin re-organizing his party. Overtly communal political parties, which opposed the independence of Bangladesh and backed the Pakistani military in its genocidal campaign in 1971, were all made legal again, with opportunities to “win” seats in the national parliament. Although comparable with Nazi holocaust, there has been no sincere attempt to investigate the war crimes of 1971 by any government of Bangladesh. Unlike the survivors of Nazi holocaust, justice has eluded the people of Bangladesh for 42 long years.

    • Mohammad permalink
      March 12, 2013 1:17 PM

      Anirban,
      I agree with this portion of your statement:”at the level of the superstructure, decadent feudalism is nurtured by capitalist degeneration. This odious alliance produces a situation where growing criminalization of the society, coexists and grows in the company of caste and communal feelings, which are exploited by the ruling classes for their political-electoral purposes.”…In case of Bangladesh it is true.

      But I see that,you failed to detect the Superstructure of the Bangladeshi state at present.
      Majority of our people believe “pro-liberation/anti-liberation”,”secularism”,”spirit of liberation war” etc. etc. have remain political rhetoric of the criminal superstructure of Bangladesh state.

      The Shahbagis are committed followers of government agenda.They are not “protesting” anything.Western countries have been exerting pressure for an impartial and fair trial.
      Look at here:

      http://bangladeshwarcrimes.blogspot.com/2011/12/effectiveness-of-us-ambassador-rapp.html

      In order to nullify this pressure government staged the Shahbag drama

      Indian media consciously suppressed this reality.

      Perhaps,only exception is the Times of India.look at here:

      http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-02-26/india/37308683_1_bangladeshi-youth-shahbagh-protesters

      [Protesters at Shahbagh in Bangladesh backed by India: Times of India Report ]

      • Anirban Gangopadhyay permalink
        March 16, 2013 10:06 PM

        phew , which western countries? those which drop bombs at Iraq , cause genocide in Palestine . now they are supporting these worthless rajakars of Bangladesh calling for a fair trial and you want us to believe them! you rock dude! This proves that these western govt’s actually like to preserve a communal ambiance . They definitely have some profits if fundamentalist stay in power. like how they wage war against Iraq etc but never gives a damn shit about other Arabian communalist countries.

        • Anirban Gangopadhyay permalink
          March 16, 2013 10:14 PM

          Well now you are defending it by criminal superstructure of Bangladesh! The entire sub-continent is festered by this criminal superstructure. India,Bangladesh,Pakistan are the examples of the almost same superstructure. People will never question it unless they consciously vomit the fundamentalist opium that parties like Jamat-E-Islami , Rss/BJP are trying to imbibe us. So Death to Rajakars. Ban amat-E-Islami , Rss/BJP! Long delayed justice need to executed. Fundamentalists need to thrown out to Bay of Bengal. Joy Bangla! What Bengal thinks today , rest of the subcontinent will think tomorrow!

          • Mohammad permalink
            March 17, 2013 7:00 PM

            Should I react to this fanatic crap?…No,I am not that idiot.
            I found no Anirban Gangopadhyay ever raised voice against RSS/BAJRANG etc.
            Nor folks like him ever demand ban on Jamaat e Islami Hind.

            However,as of the so called “protest” in Shahbagh what the crypto-Hindutvabadi fantic support from a section of Indians couldn’t blur is:

            “The ruling Awami League government is trying to override the existing political system to remain in power beyond their democratic mandate. The purposive actions and structural forces behind this movement make it very clear what, and who, the movement is for: the ruling political elite. The Shahbag movement was never a people’s movement but has been designed to disrupt the processes of social revolution, by uprooting the government’s political opponents from the field to avoid a political revolution at the next election….”…[Shahbagh: what revolution, whose revolution? ]

            Source:http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/william-gomes/shahbagh-what-revolution-whose-revolution#comment-83130858

  6. Anirban Gangopadhyay permalink
    March 12, 2013 1:42 AM

    This has given rise to a festering resentment among a youthful population super-charged by social media . The youth believes the war criminals and communal forces headed by Jamat-E-Islami must be tried to give the families of the liberation war martyrs a sense of closure . Public fury at the impunity many war criminals have enjoyed in the last 42 years grew further when Abdul Qader Mollah, nicknamed the “Butcher of Mirpur” for his crimes and a Islamist politician found guilty this month of crimes including massacres, torture and rapes during Bangladesh’s bloody war of independence from Pakistan in 1971, flashed a “V” for victory sign when he came out of the courtroom. Out of thousands of war criminals, he was one of a few who have ever been tried before the court in this 42 long years .
    He was given a life sentence instead of capital punishment. This raised a furor among the mass and a group called the Blogger and Online Activist Network came out first calling people to the streets to demand proper prosecution of thousands of war criminals , most of whom are enjoying impunity. This gave birth to a mass furor so strong that a crowd estimated to be hundreds of thousands strong has been camped on the streets for 10 days demanding the execution of all the war criminals. The movement quickly spread from one city to the other. Needless to say , communal Islamist forces headed by Jamat-E-Islami is trying to resist this mass-movement by all possible heinous means – from inflammatory propaganda and hate campaign to murder of the activists and even by beheading one of the activist bloggers named Rajib aka ”Thaba Baba”.

  7. Anirban Gangopadhyay permalink
    March 12, 2013 1:45 AM

    In essence the movement is spontaneous in nature having its own limitations. Lack of organizational skills and concrete direction might put an abrupt end to the movement. There might be controversies also regarding the demand of capital punishment. But we need to analyze the current movement of Bangladesh on the context of current historical epoch in the sub-continent. Similar to how RSS,VHP or BJP operates in India , communal forces in Bangladesh have long been trying to divide the mass across religious lines .
    Now the current movement has been able to integrate workers,farmers and intelligentsia cutting across the religious lines to a common platform to resist fundamentalist communal forces. Same is the need in India when the fanatic Hindu communal forces are on the rise in the form of RSS,VHP,BJP etc. that depend on their Islamic counterparts for the survival. The struggles of the toiling sections who want to improve their livelihood and move towards genuine liberty and dignity are today disrupted and diverted into channels of communal strife and tensions. Unless these struggles are strengthened and the communal menace defeated, the advance towards human liberation itself gets thwarted.
    It is on the context of this secular aspiration of the Sahbag Movement in Bangladesh , instead of all its limitations and all its chances to get used by mainstream political organizations such as Awami League and BNP, demands solidarity from all the progressive forces around the world because it has the potential to mobilize the mass to a radical ideology where the demand to ban every political institution connected with any religious entity , can lead the mass to refute religious fundamentalist influence over polity which aspiration is yet to find a highway in India.

  8. March 13, 2013 8:33 PM

    Solution to worl peace is, stop All Madarasas who are teaching the extremist ideology

    • March 14, 2013 6:07 AM

      Anand you are really Hindustani. My prediction is you may well be a member yourself of some of Hindu Madrassas Shiv Sena, RSS, Bajrang Dal and/or thier parental Madrassa BJP. Why the hell don’t you close yours first?

  9. Mohammad permalink
    March 15, 2013 12:12 PM

    The upcoming elections may not happen at all. Jamaat-Shibir is an intelligent party and has grown its base in Bangladesh over the past decades, and cannot be banned or branded in any manner by the government or the Shahbagh movement, as has been the talk. This is just the beginning of the assertions and the counter-assertions of this growing political divide in Bangladesh. Cox’s Bazaar, south of Chittagong, is a Jamaat-Shibir stronghold, with the local Shaheed Minar the site of sporadic flash protests by Shahbagh supporters and tension in the old town area is palpable during hartals.

    The Bangladeshi Rakhine community in Cox’s Bazaar is estimated at around 20,000 people, and is an important stakeholder in the flourishing border trade between Bangladesh and Myanmar through the customs land-river port located at Teknaf. The Rakhine community is concerned about the political situation but does not feel specifically threatened…………

    For more:http://newindianexpress.com/opinion/article1500263.ece

  10. Anirban Gangopadhyay permalink
    March 16, 2013 10:17 PM

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/520833/shahbag-or-badami-bagh/

    Shahbag, on the other hand, for all its flaws and contradictions, is at the very least, an organic campaign against the Islamists who renounced the concept of Bangladesh in 1971 and are now being held accountable as political apostates beyond. The movement may very well end up defining a Bangla secularism carved out through a rejection of all things Pakistani, past and potential, while we continue with ambiguity, apologia and intellectual and political confusion in determining the place of religion in Pakistan’s politics. No amount of sympathy or condolences for the Badami Baghs of today and tomorrow are going to resolve this until we have a Shahbag moment ourselves.

  11. Anirban Gangopadhyay permalink
    March 16, 2013 10:20 PM

    An Amazing video made by Pakistani Band “Laal” and Bengali revolutionary group “ei to shomoy” supporting the Shahbag which is showing the highway to throw out the fundamentalist powers . too good!

  12. Mohammad permalink
    March 17, 2013 7:03 PM

    Shahbagh: what revolution, whose revolution?
    By William Gomes [1] 26 February 2013

    http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/william-gomes/shahbagh-what-revolution-whose-revolution

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