His Excellency Mr. Tariq Ahmed Karim
High Commissioner of Bangladesh,
High Commission of Bangladesh,
EP-39, Dr. S. Radha Krishnan Marg
Chanakyapuri, New Delhi-110 021
HJanuary 8, 2014
Sub: Memorandum on Post-poll violence against the Hindus in Bangladesh
H.E. High Commissioner,
Human Rights Defense International (HRDI) is a New Delhi based independent Human Rights organization comprising volunteers otherwise engaged in various professions. The HRDI, since its inception in 2005, has protested against numerous instances of human rights’ violation within India and of people of Indian ancestry in other parts of the globe.
We are constrained to take a serious view on the post poll violence in Bangladesh. We are particularly dismayed by the incidents of concerted attacks on the Hindu community in Chanpatola Village, Upazila Abhoynagar, District Jessore and Karnahi Village, Dinajpur Sadar Upazila, District Dinajpur and other places. The Hindus were ironically chastised for exercising their democratic right & duty of casting ballots. The perpetrators belonged to a religious fundamentalist group. The group in question is allied to the main Opposition party that boycotted the elections.
But we fear the real agenda is to scare away the Hindu minority from Bangladesh. It reminds us of the days of East Pakistan. The West Pakistani establishment felt that the Hindus were providing the demographic edge to East Pakistan. Thus driving Hindus away not only made ‘religious’ sense (of turning Pakistan into homogenous Islamic Republic) but also bringing demographic parity between Eastern and Western wings. We find the same drama being enacted in a different framework in Bangladesh.
Accusing only the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its now derecognized ally Jamaat-e-Islami would be puerile. The Awami League era (2009-2014) was hardly inspiring for the Hindus. Neither was an anti-Minority legislation like Vested Property Act repealed nor did the Hindus attain any respite from the assaults.
On October 4, 2013 (Mahalaya day) the Hindus wanted to perform mass obsequies for the unnamed coreligionists who had perished in the Genocide of 1971. But that ceremony Gonoshradhya ’71 had to be cancelled after an Awami League legislator viz. Mujibur Rehman Chisti filed a complained with the Metropolitan Magistrate. The ‘Secular’ government willingly bowed to this ‘communal’ pressure. The Prime Minister turned a Nelson’s eye to the memory of those who had stood by her late father viz. Bangabanhdu Mujibar Rehman, RIP.
The national elections in November, 2001 were marred by large scale violence against the Hindus. But hardly has anybody been punished for those incidents in the last 12 years. The cases brought before the court were insignificant compared to the actual number of occurrences. Now, we hear that special tribunals are being contemplated for prosecuting cases of violence against the minorities. Hope the government will walk the talk.
We thus appeal to the Bangladesh government-
- Provide speedy relief and rehabilitation to the victims of recent attacks. Most of them have lost everything. The winter is compounding their misery.
- Bring the perpetrators to justice with exemplary punishment.
- Provide assistance to them in rebuilding their temples/places of worship targeted by the miscreants.
- Set up the tribunals/fast track courts.
- At present the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Bangladesh has absolutely zero representation from minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Buddhists. Its budget is entirely for Islamic affairs. There should be budget for/representation from the minority community to make it appear that it is really Ministry of Religious Affairs and not Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
Justice must not only be done but must seem to be done. In Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is trying to reclaim the foundational legacy of Bangladesh, the dignity of the Hindus must form an essential part of it. Of the 3 million persons who perished in Pakistani genocide, almost 2.5 million were Hindus.
I leave it to your fair sense of justice.
General Secretary, HRDI