Three Arrested for Murder of Buddhist Monk in Bangladesh
Three people, including two Myanmar nationals, have been arrested by police in Bangladesh in connection with an attack on an elderly Buddhist monk, who was hacked to death at a small monastery in the southeastern district of Bandarban.
The killing is the latest in a spate of attacks by suspected Islamic extremists on religious minorities—including members of minority Muslim sects, secular activists, academics, and aid workers—in Muslim-majority Bangladesh. This latest incident follows the murders in April of two prominent gay activists, a law student, and a university professor, and the beheading of a Hindu priest in northern Bangladesh in February. No group has so far claimed responsibility for the latest attack.
The body of Mong Shwe U Chak, 75, was found with his throat slit early on Saturday morning at the remote hillside monastery Chak Nirvana Bouddha Kyang. The monastery is located some 250 yards from the nearest village, where the victim’s family members live, in Naikkhangchhari Sub-district, and 211 miles southeast of the capital, Dhaka. Local police said the monk had lived alone at the monastery for the past two years.
“Villagers found [the monk’s] dead body in a pool of blood inside the Buddhist temple this morning. He was hacked to death,” said Bandarban deputy police chief Jashim Uddin, adding that the attack appeared to have been carried out by more than one person. “We saw human footprints in the temple and found four to five people entered the compound.” (South China Morning Post)
The three suspects were identified as Abdur Rahim, 25, Md Zia, 26, both ethnic Rohingya, and Sa Mong Chak, 35. Earlier reports said local residents suspected Islamic fundamentalists were behind the attack and that the murder might have been an attempt to destroy communal harmony in the area. They also said that they did not suspect the involvement of the Rohingya community.
The Rohingya are mainly concentrated in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. According to some scholars, the Rohingya are indigenous to the state, while other historians claim that they migrated to Myanmar from Bengal, primarily during the period of British rule in Burma (1824–1948).
Abul Khair, the officer-in-charge of Naikkhangchhari Police Station, confirmed that the suspects had been arrested in their homes in different areas. He added that local residents had reported seeing two Rohingya men loitering in the area.
Media reports said the monk had asked his son to stay alert on Thursday because he was feeling unsafe after seeing two unidentified men in the vicinity of the temple. Aung Sa Dhoai Chak, the victim’s son, said his father did not have any enemies in the area.
Jyotirmoy Barua, a human rights lawyer close to the Buddhist community, said there had been warnings before the monk was killed. “He had received death threats, but nobody took it seriously,” Barua said. (Los Angeles Times)
Suspected Islamists have killed more than 15 people in Bangladesh in the last year. The Islamic State (IS) group, also known as Daesh, and a Bangladeshi militant group affiliated to al-Qaeda have claimed responsibility for some of the previous slayings, although Bangladesh’s government denies that either organization has a presence in the country, saying homegrown extremists are behind the attacks.
Bandarban District is home to a large population of Buddhists, who make up about 38 per cent of the district's residents, compared with about 47.6 per cent who identify as Muslims. According to the Washington, DC-based Pew Research Center, more than 90 per cent of Bangladesh’s population of 160 million are Muslim, while Buddhists make up less than 1 percent.
Buddhist monk hacked to death in Bangladesh (Reuters)
An elderly Buddhist monk is the latest slaying victim in Bangladesh (Los Angeles Times)
Elderly Buddhist monk is hacked to death in Bangladesh (South China Morning Post)
Now a Buddhist monk hacked to death (Dhaka Tribune)
2 remanded over Buddhist monk killing (The Daily Star)
Myanmar nationals among 3 arrested for monk's murder in B'desh (Deccan Herald)
Myanmar nationals among 3 held for monk’s murder in Bangladesh (The Navhind Times)
Bangladesh: 3 detained in connection with murder of Buddhist monk (Hindustan Times)
The Plight of Buddhist Minorities in Bangladesh (Buddhistdoor Global)
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“Buddhist Voices from the Land of Rivers:” Looking from the Inside Out (Buddhistdoor Global)
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Thriving Buddhist Communities in Bangladesh: Part Two (Buddhistdoor Global)
Thriving Buddhist Communities in Bangladesh: Part Three (Buddhistdoor Global)