The World Hindu Council of America (VHPA), Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council-USA, Hindu American Foundation (HAF), Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM), along with faith based and community coalitions from the East Coast, invite you to join our rally TODAY (April 10, from 2pm to 5pm) at the White House in Washington D.C. The rally in protest against the continued attacks on Hindu and other minority communities by the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami party and urge the US State Department and Congress to address the recent and ongoing violence that is targeting minority communities, in Bangladesh.
To the world, Bangladesh is a synonym for poverty, a basket-case nation with a soaring population, a pitiful economy, and a plague of natural disasters. However, Bangladesh has come a long way from the economic abyss and in fact has made steady progress over the years to firmly establish itself as a medium income economy.
Less well known or perhaps even lost from the narrative is the saddening and sobering fact that the country’s minorities have long waged one of the world’s most difficult and serious struggles for survival.
Bangladesh was founded as a secular democracy in 1971 through a costly war and with an enormous price of human sufferings and lives lost.
Hindus in particular bore the brunt of the Pakistan army’s onslaught.Of the estimated 3 million lives lost about 2.2 million were religious minorities (mostly Hindus). But they have yet to reap the benefits of Independence, the fruits of their sacrifice. Beginning with the military coup in 1975, Bangladesh gradually fell into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists who finally declared it an Islamic Republic in 1988. That prompted a systematic erosion of the rights of the religious minorities and inspired waves of violent attacks over the years against minorities and on their interests which ultimately resulted in drastic reduction of minority population from the high of 18% in 1971 to a mere 9.7% today.
For a moment’ let us closely examine and grasp this unfathomable shift in population. In 1971, the minorities formed about 12.6 million or 18% (17.3% Hindus) of the total population of 70 million which, according to the CIA’s World Fact Book, increased to about 15.8 million or 9.7% (9.0% Hindus) of the estimated total population of 163 million 2013.
Bangladesh is universally known as a largely ethnically homogeneous country. Indeed, its name derives from the Bengali ethno-linguistic group, which comprises 98% of the population. So a uniform growth across the country’s population spectrum is what anyone would expect.
At that rate, a comparable population chart would have shown Bangladeshi Minorities to be at about 29.3 million. But their number, as it stands now, is a meager 15.8 million. This represents a net loss of around 15.5 million Bangladeshi minorities and their direct heirs, or about 8.3 in sheer percentage terms. It reflects one of the largest displacements of population based on ethnic or religious identity in recent history The world must recognize this dangerous phenomenon and act with the tenacity and urgency it deserved. When a combined total population of about a dozen European Union countries or the combined total population of more than fifteen U.S. States is vanished from a country about the size of Greece or the State of New York in just forty years, it can be called nothing but genocide and must be confronted as such.
This tragedy sits atop the history’s infamies right along with the Holocaust. The only difference is that Holocaust ended with the tragic massacre of 6 million innocent Jews while our struggle for survival continues and the terrors lurking all around us with no end in sight.
It has not come to this overnight. Years of persecution by the successive governments and organized attacks on minorities and their interests by the Islamists (BNP and Jamat-e-Islami) have led to this dark hour of civilization. The current wave of violence against the minorities transpiring in the wake of the International Judicial Tribunal’s verdict against Delwar Hossain Sayedee, a notorious war criminal and terrorist, is therefore not a new phenomenon. The verdict was simply a pretext for the Islamists to attack the minorities to grab their land, loot their property, and drive them away from the country just like they have done during every single election since 1971, during any International development or controversy involving Muslims or their religion, or even after many rumors in the past. The minorities are in such a quandary that no matter what the reason is, when the Islamists are riled up, the story lines look very familiar:
Hindu temples desecrated; Prominent members of the Hindu community – professors, doctors, engineers; Businessmen murdered in cold blood; Huge ransoms demanded from Hindu communities, Hindu homes destroyed; Women and young girls raped in front of family members; Minority girls kidnapped and forcibly converted to Islam; Ancestral land grabbed; Women’s modesty ravaged and dignity stripped away; Family killed or threatened to leave the country, etc.
Intermittent efforts by moderate governments have failed to thwart the Islamisation of Bangladesh or tame the hostile attitude of the fundamentalist Muslim populace towards minorities. Besides, no government has ever come to the protection of minorities’ besieged minorities at the height of trouble nor have they put in place any plan or mechanism to prevent future attacks. The Islamists cadres are sophisticated in their training, the weapons they have, and the national and international terrorist networks they maintain. They move and operate across Bangladesh with impunity. Frankly, the police and law enforcement apparatus of the country are mostly unwilling to do anything and leave the minorities to fend for themselves.
Years of unprovoked and violent onslaught have taken huge tolls on the morale of minorities and their outlook for the future. They are just a broken people now and it hard to come to terms with the barbaric attacks on their homesteads and businesses and temples.
Therefore, VHPA, HRCBM and Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, USA and HAF are calling upon the civilized world to come to the protection of these innocent and peaceful people who have committed no other wrongs but belonging to faiths other than what the terrorists would choose for them. They can count on no one and go nowhere but your understanding and support and the collective effort of the world community for their survival. The minorities have suffered long enough in the country, made enormous sacrifices throughout the history, and took monumental losses in lives and properties to warrant our support reaffirming their inalienable rights to their motherland. We are urging everyone to be united in outrage and by humanity and do all you can to save the endangered minorities of Bangladesh.
We invite you to join us in expressing our support to the suffering Hindus and other religious minorities in Bangladesh. Your coverage of this rally will go a long way in furthering the voice of the Hindus and other religious minorities of Bangladesh.
cell: (443) 691-0759