Monday, January 27, 2014
The World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) expresses deep concern at the continuing violence againts the Hindu community in Bangladesh.
It was recently reported in several western media outlets that Christian persecution nearly doubled in 2013 from the year before.These persecutions happened in war-torn Islamic nations like Syria, Somalia, Iraq, and Egypt that have received international attention due to their relevance in global geopolitics.
Sadly same attention has been denied to the Hindus of Bangladesh who have faced the wrath of extremist Islam for ages.
It started on 28 February 2013, when the International Crimes Tribunal sentenced Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, the Vice President of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), an Islamist political party, to death for the war crimes committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Following the sentence, activists of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir attacked the Hindus in different parts of the country. Hindu properties were looted, Hindu men were killed and women were raped, Hindu houses were burnt into ashes and Hindu temples were desecrated and set on fire.
As put succinctly in a recent Time report by Shubham Ghosh, a Bangladeshi Hindu activist, “When anything happens, Hindus get attacked in Bangladesh.” The ploy of the Islamists is to drive the Hindus from Bangladesh and to seize property and establish their stronghold. And their strategy has worked. A country where the minority population has steadily decreased from 28% in 1940s to 8% today, the cycle of violence is a once in a lustrum affair for the Hindus that face terror whenever the country goes through a political crisis. Politics legitimizes the violence.
Ironically some of the worst affected regions lie along the borders of India, the heartland of Hnduism. The Satkhira district along the Indian border, where Islamists are a law unto themselves, witnessed a recent wave of violence. There are villages in Satkhira run by JI, the pro-Pakistani Islamic outfit that assisted the Pakistani army during the genocide that ensued the Bangladesh liberation war. Hindu children there can no longer go to school. Hindus are unable to travel the small rural lanes alone for fear of attacks by Islamists.
However, as has happened in the past, very little international attention followed. Barring protests in the parliament by BJP, the main opposition party, there was no official response from the India government. On the contrary there was a street protest in India by Muslim radicals supporting Jamaat-e –Islaami. Some concern was expressed by the United States Department of State in a press briefing on March 4, 2013 and Amnesty International in a couple of reports called upon the Bangladesh government for giving better protection to the minority Hindus in the country.
“If we leave the country, then everybody will take our property. I cannot leave and be a rickshaw puller in India like a coward.” says Shubham Ghosh. This however, has been the fate of many Hindus from Bangladesh. India however does not care and neither does the rest of the world. In a meeting with the US State Deparment, VHPA explained, the Hindus of Bangladesh have been facing an existential threat since the advent of Islam in the region but what makes it one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern times is that they have been effectively ignored by the rest of the world.
The World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) urges the global community to take immediate steps to reverse this pogrom, and enact economic, and criminal sanctions on the leadership of political parties in Bangladesh that are party to it. We stand fast with the Hindu community there, and resolve to make every possible effort to alleviate their suffering.