Minorities in Bangladesh Protest against Oppression across the Country
The Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, also known as the Bangladesh Hindu Bouddha Christian Oikya Parishad (BHBCOP), organized a program of mass sit-ins and demonstrations across the country on 8 November to protest against attacks, arson, torture, and killings of religious minorities in Bangladesh. As a part of the protest, they formed human chains and rallies from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at major intersections by district, sub-district, metropolitan, and divisional headquarters across the country, including Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka and New Market intersection in Chittagong.
“We want a thorough trial and investigation into the torture we have spoken of. Tough punishment should be given by identifying those involved in such attacks. Those arrested on false charges want to be released from prison. Also, the hackers should be punished,” said advocate Rana Dasgupta, secretary-general of the BHBCOP, while addressing the sit-in protest at New Market in Chittagong. (Bdnews24.com)
“We will go for tougher programs if our demands are ignored,” Dasgupta said. “We will begin a long march toward Dhaka from Chittagong, if necessary.” (Dhaka Tribune)
Addressing the prime minister of Bangladesh, Dasgupta added: “It is difficult to trust some ministers and leaders of the ruling party, because they don’t do what they say, they don’t say what they do.
“The prime minister wants the minorities to be at peace, but there are doubts about how many people from her party want. The rise of communalism wants to engulf Bangladesh. They want to destroy the secular essence of Bangladesh.” (Bdnews24.com)
According to Dasgupta, in the seven months from March to September this year, 17 people died as a result of communal attacks, with 10 victims of attempted murder. Eleven people have been threatened with death, 30 have been victims of rape, gang rape, and torture, three have been victims of attempted rape, three people committed suicide due to indecency, 23 were abducted, three are missing, and 27 religious sites were vandalized.
In addition, there were 23 incidents of attacks, vandalism, and arson at temples, and five cases of seizure of crematoria and religious institutions. Attempts have been made to occupy crematoria 73 times, and evictions from homes, land, and crematoria have been reported 26 times. Threats have been made to deport 34 people, 60 families have been expelled from villages, and seven people have endured forcible conversion. Four people have been arrested on false charges of insulting the prophet Muhammad.
Expressing solidarity with the program, poet and journalist Abul Momen said: “We have not been able to bring back the changes in our constitution to the spirit of independence. Today communalism has been established in politics and society. Today we are far from the aspirations of a humane, democratic Bangladesh.
Momen continued: “We did not expect such a Bangladesh. Persecution of minorities and residents has increased during the COVID-19 period. There was no difference of religion in the war of liberation. That is why we have to build a united and democratic Bangladesh.” (Bdnews24.com)
Professor Venerable Jinabodhi Bhikkhu said: “We want to return to the constitution of 1972. The attacks on minority communities should be investigated earnestly.” (Dhaka Tribune)
Bangladesh was founded in 1971 as a multi-ethnic and multicultural nation, with a constitution that grants freedom for peaceful religious practice. However, religious minorities now report experiences of oppression, marginalization, and violence from segments of the Muslim-majority population.
In today’s Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Buddhists make up 0.61 per cent of the population, while Christians account for 0.3 per cent and Hindus for 8.15 per cent. The Hindu population was much higher—at 30 per cent in 1947—until a spate of anti-Hindu persecutions, forced repossessions, and violence led to a dramatic decline in the number of Hindus in the country.
Protests over attacks on minorities on November 7 (Dhaka Tribune)
Religious Minorities Protest Against the Constant Attacks Against Them (AsiaNews.it)
Hindu Buddhist Christian Oikya Parishad Protests Attacks on Minority Communities (Dhaka Tribune)
সংখ্যালঘু নির্যাতন: চট্টগ্রাম থেকে ঢাকামুখী লং মার্চের হুমকি (Bdnews24.com)
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