Non-Muslims persecuted in Bangladesh: Human Rights activist
Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq
28 August, 2003


These days everyone seems to be or wannabe human right activists. After all, United States itself is a super-champion of human rights around the world. Isn't she?

Anyway, communal tension as well as animosity against religious minorities are realities in many countries, in and around Bangladesh. However, as a Muslim if I only care about when Muslim minorities are victimized elsewhere and if a Hindu only cares about when Hindu minorities are victimized in different places, then it can be some kind of human rights activitism, but quite self-centered. In Bangladesh, minorities are not comfortable and they live in fear - there is a great deal of truth to it. However, turning it into an India-led campaign, especially based on exaggeration and half-truths, is not quite effective human rights activitism.

Unfortunately, the job of people like Sitangshu Guha and whomever such people co-opt is quite focused - on more than the minority interests and issues.

This is the same Mr. Guha who also openly supports American invasion and occupation of Iraq by the United States. "Lets Support The War & The President" [http://mukto-mona.com/Articles/current_issue/support_bush.htm]

This is the same Mr. Guha, a HRCBM activist, who supported HRCBM's campaign with the United Nation, where in a petition it was stated that in 1971 three million HINDUS were killed. [http://www.petitiononline.com/HRCBM101/petition.html]

This is the same Mr. Guha, who wants "America as leader of the free world should take the lead," to stop persecution of Hindus/minorities by Muslims in Bangladesh. [http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alochona/message/4880] Does he not know that this same country, the United States, stood by Pakistan against the Independence struggle of Bangladesh and even supplied weapons to a regime that was committing one of the worst genocides of 21st century? Would America support a war crime tribunal for 1971 genocides?

Anyway, regardless of what happens elsewhere and whoever says or does what, Bangladesh as an independent nation must take appropriate measures to protect its minorities as well as make them feel at home. Nothing less.

By the way, I was in Bangladesh during last June-July 2003. I attended friday prayer both in Dhaka and in one of the remotest rural areas of the country. I did not hear or sense anything that the congregation was getting ready or being prepared for any program after the friday prayer or during that afternoon. Of course, I am not drawing any tall conclusion from my limited personal observation and experience. But if the so-called human right activists are making rather tall claims, then there must be a great number of such incidents. If anyone is aware about such widespread, organized, after-friday-prayer incidents that were reported in the media, I sure would like to know.

Does anyone at Banglarights have any such corroborating information?

Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq

Non-Muslims persecuted in Bangladesh: Human Rights activist

Courtesy: Hindustan Times [August 27, 2003]

Accusing Bangladesh of persecuting the minorities, a prominent Human Rights activist has said attacks on non-Muslims have increased since October 2001, when the Bangladesh National Party came to power in a coalition with hardline Islamic parties.

Director of Hotline Bangladesh, Rosaline Costa, a former nun, now visiting US, told The Washington Times that Bangladesh is now a land of terror for many of its Hindu, Buddhist and Christian citizens.

She told the paper that in the Bhola islands on the southern coast of the country, 98 per cent of Hindu women interviewed "had been raped by Muslim thugs."

Costa pointed out that before partition non-Muslims had made up 33 per cent of the population. They now number only 9.9 per cent. Thousands of people have fled to India, Japan and other countries, especially Britain.

The Washington Times points out that Amnesty International and the State Department too have condemned the abuses in Bangladesh though the State Department says that the Government "generally respected" religious freedom.

Costa, contradicting the State Department's stand, said that local police do little or nothing to investigate the attacks.

Sitangshu Guha, a Hindu-American accompanying her in her tour, said Bangladesh has become a breeding ground for militant Islam.

Friday afternoons, said Costa, who lives near one of the largest mosques in Bangladesh, are the worst.

She alleged that angry Muslims, inflamed by mullahs at Friday services, pour out of the mosque, looking for any available Christian, Hindu or Buddhist on whom to vent their fury.

The situation, she said, was worse in the rural areas. There, Muslim mobs have "ethnically cleansed" many areas of their non-Muslim inhabitants. Hindus are the most affected, she said, because they traditionally have owned the most land.

"Rape," said Costa, "is a most useful tool to evict a family. Rape makes it impossible for a family to stay in the area," she said, explaining that the female victims were frequently blamed for disgracing their families.

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( Evicted slum dweller, from High Court ground)