Friday, October 30, 2009

Minority oppression and enemy or vested property act in Bangladesh

By Jahangir Alam Akash, General Zia and his predecessors introduced persecution against the minorities in Bangladesh. Bangladesh became Islamized under the military regime, rather than being a true parliamentarian 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.
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 great black law and it’s a gross tool for minority repression. Our demand is that, immediately this black law should remove and the property should refund to the real owners or their relatives.

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 have seen than happen in the cabinet and the central committee of the Bangladesh Awami League. 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.
In Bangladesh, the brutal persecution of the Hindu, Christian religious minority and indigenous ethnic minorities is going ahead 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.
The torture of minorities continue to happen in Bangladesh. When will it come to a stop, 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? Without human rights or the rule of law, how can we say that Bangladesh is a democratic country?
In Bangladesh, crimes against humanity have become widespread, especially against minorities. Almost every day, minority people leave for our neighbor country, India. Minority women are constantly afraid for their security. Peace, good governance, rule of law, and democracy are nonexistent in Bangladesh. Almost every day, perpetrators get impunity from the state. As a result, there is a constant increase in all kinds of bad activities in our dear Bangladesh. At the same time, sectarianism has increased very 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.
But, within four years was breakdown and to stooped our first constitution by the national and international conspiracies with the help of anti liberation force. The present government has the support of the majority in Bangladesh; if they wanted to reestablish the 1972 constitution, it would be no problem to do so. But the government has been in power for seven months, and they still haven't taken any steps in this 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 relation to 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, bereft of all disparities, based on Bengali nationalism in the light of the four fundamental principles of the state that motivated the Bangladesh Liberation War for independence 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 was introduced ‘Bismilla’ to our secular constitution. So, BNP-Jammat has beat-torture or kills to the minority, it’s a natural. That we have seen in last BNP-Jammat alliance government regime. Both of two parties have doing their politics using by religious faith and feelings.We want to draw a little picture on minority killings, tortures in the present government regime. Though, this government has well known as a minority friend government. In spite of this regime minority repression has going on. It’s very unfortunate to secular peoples.
The Local Influential boycotted & cut the hair of a Hindu-Dalit raped victim because Muslim perpetrator raped her. Ms.Sabita Rani (25) a raped woman prayed for punishment of rapist- Jewel Kha and as a result the powerful social leaders cut her hair and boycotted herself and her family members. The leaders also threatened her mother and younger brother for dire consequence if she continues to stay at the village Nilam Kharida Sadar Taluk within Kaonia Upazila of Rangpur district in Bangladesh. A college girl Koli Goswami (21) was kidnapped and forceful conversion at Ghosai Chandura, Upazila - Nandail district-Mymensingh on 13th June.
According to the oldest Benglali newspaper the daily Sangbad, Properties belonging to minorities in the Sherpur District were occupied by force by a Juba League leader, while shops were demolished and women injured. A group of hoodlums under the leadership of Hafizur Rahman Hafiz and his elder brother, Azizur Rahman Aziz, the cultural secretary of the Juba League occupied by force 283 square meters of land belonging to a Hindu owner, Surjya Kanta Debnath. In connection with this, allegations were made by the victim’s family that two shops were demolished and that their daughter, Ms. Lipi Debnath, was physically assaulted. Twenty minority families from the Sonagazi-Feni district are on the run because of the continuous kidnapping of women and children and the forceful collection of money. More than 20 minority families located in the villages of Kazir Hat and Keramatia, in the Sonagazi Sub district of the Feni district, are absconding dues to continuous threats and atrocities perpetrated by local Muslims. They left their homes from fear of impending attacks. According to the daily Star, "Rajshahi board boss faces mayor's fury," the Mayor of Rajshahi Khairuzzaman Liton recently was threatened to the Rajshahi Board Chairman Dr. Prodeep, because his daughter couldn’t good result in SSC examination.
We want justice for all kinds of killings, torture, and human rights violations. Under the present government, at 50 incidents of minority torture have taken place, including the sensational kidnapping of nine minorities (including women and children) in the Sutrapur area of Dhaka. A gang of criminals attacked three Hindu families in the Dighalkandi Sahapara village of the Puthia Upazila of Rajshahi on the night of Aug. 31, 2009, injuring 12 people. The attackers belong with BNP-Jammat. A Hundi women Radha Rani Halder (28) in Shoriotpur was gang raped recently. And three minority peoples were killed in this regime.
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 by being shot. All Bengali people know about the young minority girl named Purnima who was gang raped in Sirajgonj. And these were all preplanned incidents. No actual investigations have taken place and punishment has still not been given to the perpetrators of crimes against at least 15 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, led by the father of the nation, Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. After the killings of Bongobondhu, General Zia, and General Ershad, the most important principles of the constitution were abandoned.
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 punished. But 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. Otherwise, minority torture and state torture will not stop.
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 Wazed 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 about 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 due 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 execution of war criminals, of the killers of Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and of 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.
Prime Minister, and daughter of Bangabondhu, Sheikh Hasina, please open your eyes to the minority community. Don't you see what is happening? You have power as the prime minister; why don’t you take action against the perpetrators of minority suppression? You still have time to use your power. Please safeguard our minority peoples and their possessions.
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. To only investigate is not enough; we think that those involved with minority oppression and human rights violations should be punished and made into examples. 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 our 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, we have no alternative before us to establish peace and happiness.

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Jahangir Alam Akash-Editor of Euro Bangla


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Jahangir Alam Akash Editor Euro Bangla