Op-Ed: Seeking better human rights in Bangladesh for the New Year
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Op-Ed: The world must stop supporting Sheikh Hasina’s governmentThe Sheikh Hasina government is not facing as much international pressure as it should despite the gross human rights violations within the country.
The present plight of the minorities in Bangladesh is horrific. Recently, documents were submitted to German parliamentary officials, demonstrating how the Bangladeshi government has increasingly been committing human rights abuses against minorities. These human rights abuses include mass killings, rapes, forceful conversions to Islam, the dispossession of property, the arrest of political activists supporting the minorities and the desecration of Hindu places of worship. These reports were submitted on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Minorities in Geneva. In the wake of this development, I call upon the international community to stop supporting Sheikh Hasina’s government!
As we speak, the Sheikh Hasina government is not facing as much international pressure as it should despite the gross human rights violations within the country. Even though US President Donald Trump vowed to punish countries that stood against his Jerusalem declaration at the UN, according to a report in the Dhaka Tribune, it appears that Bangladeshi-US relations won’t be affected by the Jerusalem issue. In fact, many countries are continuing to pursue positive relations with the Bangladeshi regime as if these human rights abuses are not occurring. As a result, the Sheikh Hasina government has no qualms about persecuting the minorities for she does not face any international backlash for doing so.
Persecuting Hindus and other minorities runs in Sheikh Hasina’s family. Her father, Sheikh Mujibar Rahman, did not want the new Bangladesh to be a secular country. Although he favored seceding from Pakistan, he did not support the country changing for the better. He wanted Bangladesh to be an Islamic state. Therefore, during the Bangladeshi War of Independence, Hindus were systematically slaughtered and raped by the Pakistani Army, and Rahman contributed to these atrocities. Many Hindus were compelled to flee to India as a result. According to Time Magazine, Hindus accounted for three-quarters of the refugees and a majority of the dead in 1971 during Bangladesh’s War of Independence.
Rahman was also hostile to the State of Israel. Israel was the first country from the Middle East and the 4th in the world to recognize Bangladesh as an independent country. In fact, Israel even contributed arms to the Bangladeshi struggle for independence via India under Indira Gandhi. However, despite Israel’s support for Bangladesh, Rahman was not interested in establishing diplomatic relations with the Jewish state despite what the country had to offer related to modern technology, agriculture, etc.
Sheikh Hasina is now following in her father’s footsteps. Like her father, she continues to persecute the minorities and is also very hostile to the State of Israel. However, the Bangladeshi Hindus and even many Muslims within the country have had enough of this hostility. Jerusalem is a holy place for Muslims around the world but because Bangladesh does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, Bangladeshi Muslims cannot even visit the Al Aqsa Mosque. Furthermore, as a poor country, my country’s government is shooting themselves in the foot by not being interested in the hi-tech and innovations that Israel has to offer. Even Saudi Arabia now has relations with Israel behind the scenes. So, why not us?
Presently, Sheikh Hasina’s government has no interest in having a relationship with Israel because this does not fit her pro-Islamist agenda of making Bangladesh an exclusively Muslim country. Just as she condemned Trump’s Jerusalem declaration because she cannot fathom non-Muslims remaining in control of Islam’s third holiest city, she also clamps down on the minorities and anyone who supports them. She also enables ISIS and other radical Islamist groups to do her dirty work of transforming Bangladesh into an exclusively Muslim country.
I call upon the EU, the Prime Minister of Israel, the Prime Minister of India and the President of the US to help find a solution for the Bangladeshi minorities. We hope that there will be a new government as soon as possible that will boot Sheikh Hasina out of power. This new government will not only grant equal rights and human rights to all of the minorities but it will also establish diplomatic relations with Israel. For the benefit of humanity, I ask everyone to support Bangladeshi minorities in seeking a better and more democratic future!
Shipan Kumer Basu is the President of the Hindu Struggle Committee, Bangladesh.
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