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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

10,000 incidents of minority repression in Bangladesh since 2001

Tuesday October 11, 04:58 PM

By Nazrul Islam

Dhaka, Oct 11 (ANI): A White Paper on minority repression in Bangladesh has revealed more than 10,000 incidents of communal torture have taken place in the country during the last four years of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led right wing government of Khaleda Zia.

Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee (the committee for annihilation of collaborators of 1971), an organisation of the civil society members, launched the whitepaper Monday giving its observation that in most cases the police ignored to record complaints by the victims of the minority repression.

"The unprecedented torture of religious minority and ethnic sects, which began centring the 2001 general elections, has not stopped even after 1,500 days," reads the introduction of the 2,760-page White Paper.

Writer Shahriar Kabir who edited the whitepaper published in three parts said, the people did not disclose many of the incidents fearing further torture and harassment.

Binodbihari Chowdhury, an advisor of the committee, announced release of the whitepaper, which carries newspaper reports, editorials, columns, articles and opinion on repression of minorities that has taken place since the previous caretaker government took over on July 13, 2001 and 46 months from the coalition government's taking office.

A selection of 2,786 reports have been compiled in the first two parts while the third part carries headlines of 4,092 reports published in 16 newspapers published from Dhaka.

The whitepaper observed that the repression on the minorities increased after the last general elections.

"No single day could be found in the first three months of the coalition government's taking power when repression of minorities did not take place," reads the whitepaper adding that the incidents of physical torture, looting, setting fire to households, forced extortion and rape were more than the number of killings.

The victims of murder included people of different ages, from new-born babies to 70-year-olds. Even priests of temples, Buddhist monks and elderly scholars could not escape murder.

In some cases, Hindus were forced to convert to Islam, while Muslims or ethnic people who converted to Christianity willingly were tortured and even killed.

The White Paper said local activists and supporters of the four-party alliance started attacking, torturing, terrorising and even killing minority religious sects, especially Hindus, at different parts of the country from mid-July of 2001.

They worked to ensure that Hindus do not go to voting centres and, if they go, do not cast their vote for any one other than the alliance candidates.

Blaming the government for its continual denial of the repression from the very beginning, the white paper said the local administration did not take any effective steps against the torture due to the government's denial. Complaints of the victims were not even recorded at police stations, it added.

The organisers criticized the opposition political parties saying although the degree of repression of minorities during the coalition rule was higher than that of any other past reign, the opposition failed to take effective steps to stop it.

They suggested formation of a high-profile commission comprising a Supreme Court judge, joint-secretary-level representatives from home and law ministries and human rights organisations to make inquiries into reported incidents of minority repression in the last four years.

The commission will submit its report in six months and make recommendations for stopping torture and discrimination of minority sects. They also suggests implementation of a secular constitution like that of 1972. (ANI)

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