Organized by Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA), World Council of Churches held on 25th March, 2014, at Ecumenical Center, Geneva, Switzerland.
Speech of Tarun Chowdhury, President, BHBCUC, Europe
Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council
Sweden & Europe
First of all I would like to thank The Commission of the Churches on international Affairs (CCIA) of the World Council of Churches and Bangladesh Minority Council to invite me and gave a chance to discuss the persecution of the minorities in Bangladesh. We are gathered here today to find out a way for the betterment of the human rights situation which you have already underlined.
With the rise of Islamic fundamentalist and militancy in Bangladesh religious and ethnic minorities are being still persecuted. The persecution and violence against religious and ethnic minorities are manifold and have not become crisis overnight. It can be considered as ethnic cleansing and may be described as follows:
- Grabbing of minority property properties by individual or groups by force and threat.
- Large scale eviction of poor minority families and tribal minorities from their ancestral lands.
- Rape, kidnap and sexual violation of women belonging to minority communities.
- Forcing minorities either to convert to Islam or flee from the country.
- Destruction and desecration of places of worships such as temples, monasteries and churches.
- Depriving minorities of education, business and professional opportunities.
- Extortion of money in the form of “infidel security tax”.
- Election time violence or political attacks targeting minorities for their perceived role as “vote bank” for certain parties and being a factor in win/loss for candidates.
When the state appears to be the best patron to the process of discrimination, injustice and violation, it promotes an atmosphere of impunity. Minorities are being assaulted on the streets, in their homes and at their work places and threat to leave the country. Even the human rights defenders are not spared. 2001 Commission report on atrocities on the minorities is not yet published because it is too much sensitive.
Minority girls are the main targets who are kidnapped and converted with the active support the local politicians and religious leaders. It is known as “Love Jihad”. At the same time administration plays important roles to facilitate by applying force , fear and inducement. Rape, by far, is the weapon of choice against the minority communities.
The harrowing tales of the vanishing minorities of Bangladesh and their cries for help go unknown and unheard to the international community. Vanished population can be compared with a dozen European Union countries or more than fifteen US states or about the size of Greece or the State of New York in just 40 years. It seems that a silent genocide is going on in slow and secure process. The decade long minority cleansing in Bangladesh sits atop the history’s infamies right along with the Holocaust. The only difference is that Holocaust ended with the tragic and barbarous massacre of 6 million innocent Jews while Bangladesh minorities’ struggle for survival continues with no end in sight .If the trend continues and nothing is done to turn the tide, very soon, minorities will be wiped out from Bangladesh.
It is not recognized before that atrocities are going towards the religious and ethnic minorities. Now each and every political party recognizes the atrocities in Bangladesh including the Islamic militant groups as because of the great concerns of the International Community after the general election. But no one takes the responsibility and the Blame Game continues as usual and the same group continues to suffer.
Therefore we are calling upon the civilized world to come to the protection of these innocent peaceful people who have committed no wrongs but belonging to faiths other than what Islamists would choose for them. Your understanding , support and collective effort of the world community is essential for the survival of the religious and the ethnic minorities in Bangladesh. We are urging everyone to be united in outrage and by humanity do all you can to save the endangered minorities in Bangladesh.
Finally to curve down the trend and to prevent the flow some essential steps are to be considered.
- Return of the 1972 constitution, which secures the rights of every citizen
- Minority protection bill to protect from the culture of impunity.
- Minority welfare ministry to rehabilitate
Thank you for listening patiently.
Tarun Kanti Chowdhury