Saturday, October 31, 2009

A certificate on human rights and minority by US and reality!

By Jahangir Alam Akash, 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.
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.
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.
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, it would be no problem for them. But the government has been in power for ten months, and they still haven't taken any steps in that direction.
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 ‘Bismilla’ 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.
International religious freedom commission of US state department was published a report on human rights situation of Bangladesh, recently. They were given a big certificate to the present government of Bangladesh about the human rights. According to the report, the human rights situation is going on good place especially the minority oppression is decreasing. The state department of US, how they said the human rights situation has improving in Bangladesh? We don’t know, but real scenario is reversed.
In Bangladesh, practical situation of human rights has not well like the report of US state department. Almost every day, there are violating the human rights with various form. The minority community especially the Hindu and the Christian peoples are in panic. Different places of the country have been happening minority repression.
We can give some examples for minority repression in this present government regime. A school teacher Akhil Chandra Saha was killed by miscreants at Charghat in Rajshahi on 30th June. After this killing the minority peoples of 21 Hindu families of Miapur village has been panic. A sensational minority oppression incident was happened in this regime on August. Armed local criminals picked up Nitai Chandra Das, 70, his cousin Shambhu Das, 50, Shambhu’s wife Kajol Rani Das, 42, her son Sajal, 14, and daughter Swarna, 8, Shambhu’s brother Mohabir Das, 45, his wife Lakshmi Rani Das, 38, her daughters Beauty, 18, and Sweety, 12, from their houses and confined them to the workshop.
The criminals also looted belongings including gold ornaments from the victims’ houses. A poor Hindu young people Ashish Sarker, 25 was abducted and murdered by miscreants on 1st July at Mirzapur in Tangail. A Hindu businessman named Sumon Goala (25) was abducted and murdered at Pearpur –Jamalpur Sadar on 2nd part of June. A Hindu woman, Ms.Radha Rani Halder, 28 was gang raped recently in Shoriotpur. Perpetrators attacked four Hindu families, vandalized their deities while attackers tried to occupy cremation ground belonging to Hindus on 3rd July at Palash Upazila of Narsingdi District. 10 persons including women and children were seriously injured due to abrupt attack.
On 16th July some miscreants have stolen valuables and desecrated Kali Temple demolishing the deity at Raroa Kali Temple at Gopalpur within Sherpur Upazila of Bogra District of Bangladesh. A Hindu housewife Anguri Biswas, 23 was abducted forcefully and taken to other places for killing or for trafficking on 2nd July, 2009 at Rajoir in Madaripur district. A group of hoodlums with the leadership of Hafizur Rahman Hafiz andhis elder brother Azizur Rahman Aziz – Cultural Secretary of Juba League (Youth Organisation of Awami League) Nalitabari Upazila underSherpur district on August forcefully occupied seven decimals of lands belonging to a Hindu owner- Surjya Kanta Debnath. In this connection allegations received from the victim’s family that two shops were demolished and their daughter Ms.Lipi Debnath was physically assaulted during operation.
In same month twenty Minority families are on run because of continuous kidnapping of women/children and forceful collection of money at Sonagazi-Feni District. It is learnt that some perpetrators namely Jafar, Seraj, Younus, Saiful, Ripon, Sabuj, Selim, Nasir and more 20-22 miscreants were regularly collecting illegal money from 20 to 22 Hindu families. If they refuse to pay money to miscreants then repression and threat starts.
A gang of criminals attacked three Hindu families in the Dighalkandi Sahapara village of the Puthia subdistrict of Rajshahi on the night of August 31, injuring 12 people. Sources said, the hoodlums also looted five houses and shops during the attack, in an attempt to take land away from those families. The injured included Profulla Chandra Saha, his wife Bijli Rani Saha, his brother Bijoy Saha, Sukumar, Chand, and Nomita, who were admitted to Puthia Health Complex in critical condition.
Around 30 perpetrators, believed to be BNP-Jamaat cadres, attacked and damaged the houses of Vanpuller Bijoy, Sukumar, and Uttam. They also looted Sukumar’s grocery store and the stitching shop of Uttam’s wife, Nomita, during the attack. Local sources said that men from the neighboring village of Kacharipara beat up two youths - Nayan and Sujon - at Sahapara on Aug. 27, 2009. Following the incident, a total of 35 people from 10 Hindu families filed a general report with the local police station, expressing their anxiety.
A minority women picked up and gang-raped while she was asleep with her husband Sagor Das at Sathiya Upazilla at Pabna district on October. Ms.Purnima Rani –daughter of Dulal Roy of Chitra Para-Joypurhat town was missing having false promise of matrimonial function with Hindu boy. The Muslim perpetrator is a relative of a very powerful Juba League Leader of Joypurhat. Ms.Purnima Rani could not be recovered despite desperate arbitration with the powerful Awami League Leaders was held several times.
Sometimes, the police on duty also neglect to register any case against those perpetrators. Although case was registered after hectic endeavour, but the perpetrators start intimidating the victim’s family constantly. So, a sense of insecurity amongst the Hindu communities prevails. It also indicates a forceful conversion after allurement and false personification. Similarly Ms.Nabami Sarkar –daughter of Akhil Sarkar of village Aimar Rasulpur have been the victim of fraudulent events of such circumstances and Ms.Krishna Rani and Ms. Prativa Rani of Govindapur also become target of such trend.
A process of fraudulent conversion with intent to deceive minority girls is going on with Ms.Shika Debnath daughter of Ms.Mina Debnath of village Shaljune of the same Upazila. Police shows negative response on this particular minority issue if the case is filed at the respective police station. As discontentment prevailed amongst Hindu minorities then the police on 1st October most reluctantly detained Ms.Purnima Roy daughter of Dulal Roy with wearing Burkha under veil covered by her face and body.
Thereafter she was produced before court and the court sent her to judicial custody. A Muslim shrewd boy got a Hindu girl- Krisna Rani Protiva into a trap in the same village of Kusumba Union of Govindapur and later abducted her and absconding. The elder brother of the victim girl protested against this sort of trap and as a result the perpetrators on behalf of the Muslim boy assaulted the victim’s brother. In this connection although case was recorded but police kept them silent. Later on the local people recovered this unfortunate girl.
Sawpan Mondal, 40, a Hindu (Converted Christian) N.G.O. Employee was beaten to death at Soharwardy Uddayan (Ramna Kali Temple) by the some students of Dhaka University branded him to be an extortionist. On last 12th September a group of students of Dhaka University caught him and beaten him mercilessly. Day after morning Sawpan Mondal was died due to torture at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital during treatment. At least 25 Hindu families were evicted in this regime at Kalapara in Patuakhali.
According to the daily Star, Rajshahi Education Board Chairman Dipakendranath Das left the city on 30th August for Dhaka after filing general diaries with two police stations following threats on his life allegedly from the city Mayor A H M Khairuzzaman Liton. The Rajshahi mayor asked the board chairman repeatedly over the phone to upgrade his daughter’s SSC results, Dipakendranath alleged. Khairuzzaman also acknowledged that he had requested Dipakendranath to look into the result of his daughter but denied the allegation of threatening the board chairman.
In his identical GDs filed with Boalia and Rajpara police stations in Rajshahi the education board chairman alleged that he had been asked to leave Rajshahi forever over the phone since August 27. The callers also threatened him with death. He, however, refrained from mentioning names of any individual or party in his GDs. Earlier on August 27, the board chairman alleged that the city mayor threatened to transfer him if he did not entertain his request of upgrading his daughter’s SSC result. Anika Faria Zaman, the mayor’s daughter, secured GPA 4.56 in this year’s SSC examinations.
Dissatisfied with the result she along with 2300 other examinees appealed to the board for review of their results on June 22. As review results came out on August 9, some 23 examinees got their results changed but Anika’s results remained the same.The board chairman explained that Anika failed to get GPA 5 because she secured A minus in Bangla and obtained A in English, Mathematics and Chemistry. “There was no scope of reviewing her result as her review results had already been issued,” he said. Dipakendranath alleged that the mayor threatened him twice –on August 18 and 25 over the phone.
A gang led by Nur Hosssain Master of Soraigachhi attacked the houses of some 74 families including 54 indigenous families at Katirpur of Porsha upazila in Naogaon district on June 12. They torched, damaged and looted the houses and also randomly beat up indigenous men, women and children during the attack.
More than 50 people, including the member-secretary of the National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Ports, Professor Anu Muhammad, were injured when police charged into marchers heading for Petrobangla headquarters in the capital on 2nd September in protest against the government’s decision to award three offshore blocks to international oil companies.
One bereaved Hindu family is prevented from lodging FIR at Rangunia police station due to continuous threat from murderers. Police trying to suppress the facts of murder, as a result perpetrators get impunity. On 24th July some perpetrators kidnapped Jatindra Lal Dey, 65, of village Sahandi Nagar Hindu Para and strangulated him to half dead and fled away putting him Rangunia Upazila Hospital. Jatindra died on way to Chittagong Medical College Hospital.
Allegations received from a group of minority communities at village Barman Para within Durgapur Upazila of Netrokona district on August regarding continuous repression against them. In a separate note of signatures condemning the atrocities against them singed by some minority communities it is alleged that a group of perpetrators were continuously committing crime against humanity including physical torture, rape, kidnapping and land grabbing, they also claimed that despite the local administration including their local Member of Parliament were informed asking them to stop continuous atrocities; although the local Member Parliament requested the Officer-in-charge of respective police station to take necessary steps it is unfortunate that no remedial measures taken by police and as such a case has been filed by Bimal Chandra Barman at Durgapur police station.
A Minority School girl belonging to Dalit family at Jessore district was gang raped while she was returning from attending “Kirtan” religious songs on July. The perpetrators dragged victim nearby garden and rape her one after another. In Bhola silent repression upon religious minorities are going on.
More than 100 women and children belonging to Hindus located atLord Hardinge 35 miles away from Lalmohan police station reported inwriting that some land grabbers belonging to Muslims with ill motiveinstituted false cases in the court against those destitutelaw-abinding Hindus enabling them to leave the country.
Because the Chief Judicial Magistrate-Bhola made judicial enquiry on July through a local High school Head Master who is reported to be a activist of AwamiLeague and took negative view and submitted false report against theHindus resulting which those unfortunate Hindus have been arrestedwithout any tangible allegations.
Although no enquiry was made about the allegations made against those Hindus with regard to their involvement of theft and other false allegations. Maching Khai Marma, 18, was raped then killed with a brick on May 8 in CHT. Goutam Sarker, 33 was killed on 28th September in Dhaka. He was a resident of 47 Farasganj Lane; Sutrapur.He was also the president of Awami Sechasebok League of 79 ward of Dhaka. Goutam was shot dead.
A Catholic family of the Dhaka diocese, under the St. Lawrence Catholic Church, was attacked by local Muslims on October 22. Some people fired guns aimed at the house of the Catholic family. After that, a complaint was filed to the local police station as well as to the state department of US by the victim family with the help of a NGO.
On the other hand, extra judicial killings are a very common matter, still. Another two persons were killed in extra judicial killings in the name of so-called gunfight with police in Sundarban of Bagerhat on 31st October. The killed are Altaf Hossain, 42, and Mizanur Rahman, 35, both residents of Chandrakhali at Rampal in the district.
With these latest incident took to 118 the total death figure from extrajudicial killing such as ‘crossfire’ or ‘encounter’ by the Rapid Action Battalion and the police after January 6 when the Awami League-led government assumed office. Though, the law minister, Barrister Shafique Ahmed told in the same day in a training programme on human rights, there should be initiatives to investigate any kind of extrajudicial killing, as the present government does not believe in such killings.
On 25-26th February at Pilkhana BDR headquarters some of BDR members were revolt and during that time they were mass killings to the meritorious army, looting their money, gold and other wealth’s, mass raped to army officers wife, daughter. By so-called mutineers killed at least 75 peoples including 58 meritorious army officers.
It was a gross human rights violation after the brutal killings of the father of the nation Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Bangladesh.We want to see fair trial about the real and accused mutineer. We know that, 48 BDR members already died after torture during the detention. Whole nation are waiting for see the justice regarding BDR mutiny. We also want to see the enquiry report about BDR mutiny and killings.
So, a big difference between US state department report and real situation of human rights and minority in Bangladesh. We want to an equal society where there will not torture, all kinds of human rights violation.
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 38 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 removed immediately and the ceased property should be returned to real owners or their relatives.
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 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. 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.
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.
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 trial of war criminals, for the implementation of the verdict of Bangabondhu killers, and are waiting 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 and stop mixing politics with religion.
Lastly, we want to demand that the government immediately form a public inquiry committee to investigate all cases of minority oppression and human rights violations that have occurred since independence. Again, only investigate is not enough; we think that those involved with minority oppression and human rights violations should be brought under justice. Otherwise, it will never be possible to establish the rule of law. If the government wants to take these actions, then it should, first of all, reestablish 1972 constitution. Secondly, it should immediately bring to trial cases involving war crimes, jail murders, and the Bangabondhu murder case, and should punish the accused. It also needs to take strict action to stop Islamic militants. Otherwise, there will be no peace and happiness.
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. 01.11.2009

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Jahangir Alam Akash-Editor of Euro Bangla


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Jahangir Alam Akash Editor Euro Bangla