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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hindus attacked in Bangladesh; temples and houses torched

Source: JAGRAN Post


Hindu temples, homes attacked in Bangladesh
Hindu temples, homes attacked in Bangladesh
Dhaka: Islamic activists have attacked dozens of Hindu temples and hundreds of homes across Bangladesh since an Islamist leader was sentenced to death for war crimes last month, a Hindu group said on Thursday.

Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad, an organization which looks after Hindu temples, said 47 temples and at least 700 Hindu houses had either been torched or vandalised since the verdict against Delwar Hossain Sayedee.

Sayedee, vice-president of the country's largest Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, was sentenced to hang on February 28 for crimes including rape and murder committed during the 1971 independence conflict.

The sentencing of Sayedee and other Jamaat-e-Islami leaders has triggered the worst violence in impoverished Muslim-majority Bangladesh since independence, with 85 people so far killed in the unrest.

Jamaat-e-Islami blamed


Kazal Debnath, a vice-president of Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad, blamed the attacks on Hindu temples and homes on Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir.

"It was the work of the Jamaat and Shibir, but we also accuse the government, the police and the local government representatives including (our) MPs for failing to protect the temples and our community," he said.

He said the attackers were given free rein to "torch our temples, houses and properties".

Jamaat has denied any role in the attacks, blaming supporters of the ruling Awami League party for the violence.

Govt urged to protect Hindus
But Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told diplomats last week that Jamaat and Shibir attacked Hindu temples and houses in a "pre-planned manner".

Amnesty International has appealed to the government to better protect Hindus.

"The Hindu community in Bangladesh is at extreme risk, in particular at such a tense time in the country. It is shocking that they appear to be targeted simply for their religion," said Abbas Faiz, an Amnesty researcher.

Red Cross provides aid

The Red Cross said it had started providing aid to 113 families affected by the violence.

Hindus, who make up nearly 10 percent of Bangladesh's 153 million-strong population, are traditionally seen as supporters of the Awami League, which brands itself as a secular party.

They were the main targets during Bangladesh's 1971 independence war against Pakistan and during post-poll violence in 2001 when a centre-right party allied with Jamaat won a two-thirds majority.

Jamaat-e-Islami leaders have been on trial at the domestic International Crimes Tribunal, accused of colluding with Pakistan and pro-Pakistan militias during the war for independence.

But the party says the process is an attempt by the ruling party to settle scores and not about delivering justice.

Bangladesh on the brink

Source: CNN World


Bangladesh on the brink
March 13th, 2013



By Toby M. Cadman, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Toby M. Cadman is a London based international barrister specializing in war crimes, international terrorism, extradition and human rights. He served as legal counsel to the chief prosecutor of the Bosnian war crimes chamber. The views expressed are his own.
Days of bloody riots in Dhaka are spreading throughout the country; scores are dead thousands injured. Bangladesh has a long history of civil unrest but the current situation is approaching historic proportions. In the past, unrest has led to military coup. Six months ago, another coup was unthinkable; now it is apossibility increasingly being discussed.
Yet while some have compared the protests to the Arab spring, nothing could be further from the truth. In Cairo, people ousted a dictator and demanded democratic reform. In Dhaka, the demonstrations are comprised of two camps: the larger is made up of those seeking immediate execution of people convicted of war crimes related to the 1971 war of independence; the other is made up of those who believe the war crimes tribunals are show trials allowing the government to eliminate the leaders of a critical political party that threatens to shift the balance of power in upcoming elections.
I am a member of the defense team, but was expelled from the country for complaining about the lack of due process. I am not a politician. I support no political party in Bangladesh. But I do support the rule of international law and believe that the ongoing defilement of that rule not only threatens the lives of presumed innocent defendants, it also is placing the country on the brink of chaos.
The 1971 war pitted the two Pakistans against each other. The East and West Pakistan concept created in 1947 by the British during their departure from the subcontinent resulted in an unworkable bifurcated “nation” separated by more than 1,000 miles, with two distinct languages and cultures. The concept was to split the subcontinent by religion: India is primarily Hindu, the Pakistans Muslim. But the Pakistans shared little beyond Islam revolution was inevitable.  The war was bloody, with as many as 3 million people killed in East Pakistan, according to the Bangladeshi side, thousands raped and unknown numbers tortured. As part of the India-brokered treaty, Bangladesh became an independent state and the Pakistan military received effective amnesty. Bangladeshi collaborators received no amnesty.
The Awami League-led government created the War Crimes Tribunal in 2010, basing it loosely on tribunals like Nuremberg. The government rejected suggestions from the international community of the necessity for transparency, strict adherence to legal precedent and involvement of unbiased outsiders. The government wrote its own rules. Charges were brought against 11 suspects out of an estimated total of 1,600. Each defendant held leadership roles in the opposition party Jamaat-e-Islami. In the history of Bangladesh, elected governments have rotated between Awami and BNP led coalitions. Historically, each time BNP held power, its majority relied on a Jamaat coalition seat. Without Jamaat’s votes, BNP is unlikely to regain power.
Early procedural actions by the War Crimes Tribunal raised concerns among bodies including the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. Foreign lawyers, including myself, were prohibited from participating on the defense team, prosecutors were given great latitude and defense lawyers limited in the ability to cross-examine and present evidence.
Last year, a series of tapes and emails surfaced that seemed to suggest collusion between the chief judge of the tribunal, the prosecutors, outside pro-government consultants and indications of direct instructions from the cabinet for quick convictions and death sentences.
The evidence seemed to confirm the international community’s concerns and led to the resignation of the judge. But his replacement stuck to the original playbook and the convictions are now coming down.
Demonstrations followed the first conviction, with pro-government mobs demanding the tribunal forego appeals and move straight to the gallows. A second conviction with a life imprisonment sentence amped up the mobs and demonstrations turned to riots. But with the recent conviction of Jamaat leader Maulana Delwar Hossain Sayedee, the country is exploding. And, while there are indications the police took a policy of turning a blind eye toward pro-government rioters, they now seem to have lost control.
As someone who prosecuted war crimes in Bosnia, I understand the need for justice. However, I do not believe that there can be justice under the current tribunal, which is at best suspect, at worst a tool of a government looking to execute politicians for electoral gain.
What is required now is immediate and effective action to ensure that the trials of the accused before the tribunal are suspended pending an independent, international investigation into the serious allegations of gross misconduct against members of the tribunal including judges and prosecutors, as well as senior members of the Bangladeshi Government and undeclared third parties.
It is unclear what steps, punitive or otherwise, the U.N. Human Rights Council will take in Geneva over the coming weeks.  It will also be deliberating on Syria, Burma, Bahrain and Sri Lanka.  Arguably, two weeks ago, Bangladesh paled in comparison to these, but the events of the past several days paints an entirely different picture.
Bangladesh is descending into sectarian conflict every bit as serious as its competitors for attention, and has now matured into a fully-grown problem for the United Nations. Failure to find a resolution could see the country descend into civil war.






Hindu temples, homes under attack across Bangladesh

Source: Gulf Times


Hindu temples, homes under attack across Bangladesh
9:17 PM
13
March
2013
 A man pours water from a bucket onboard a bus after activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) set fire to it during a nationwide strike in Dhaka on Tuesday.






AFP/Dhaka
Islamic activists have attacked dozens of Hindu temples and hundreds of homes across Bangladesh since an Islamist leader was sentenced to death for war crimes last month, a Hindu group said yesterday.
Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad, a group which looks after Hindu temples, said 47 temples and at least 700 Hindu houses had either been torched or vandalised since the verdict against Delwar Hossain Sayedee.
Sayedee, vice-president of the country’s largest Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, was sentenced to hang on February 28 for crimes including rape and murder committed during the 1971 independence conflict.
The sentencing of Sayedee and other Jamaat-e-Islami leaders has triggered the worst violence in impoverished Muslim-majority Bangladesh since independence, with 85 people so far killed in the unrest.
Kazal Debnath, a vice-president of Bangladesh Puja Udjapon Parishad, blamed the attacks on Hindu temples and homes on Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir.
“It was the work of the Jamaat and Shibir, but we also accuse the government, the police and the local government representatives including (our) MPs for failing to protect the temples and our community,” he said.
He said the attackers were given free rein to “torch our temples, houses and properties”.
Jamaat has denied any role in the attacks, blaming supporters of the ruling Awami League party for the violence.
But Foreign Minister Dipu Moni told diplomats last week that Jamaat and Shibir attacked Hindu temples and houses in a “pre-planned manner”.
Hindus, who make up nearly 10% of Bangladesh’s 153mn-strong population, are traditionally seen as supporters of the Awami League, which brands itself as a secular party.
They were the main targets during Bangladesh’s 1971 independence war against Pakistan and during post-poll violence in 2001 when a centre-right party allied with Jamaat won a two-thirds majority.
Jamaat-e-Islami leaders have been on trial at the domestic International Crimes Tribunal, accused of colluding with Pakistan and pro-Pakistan militias during the war for independence.
But the party says the process is an attempt by the ruling party to settle scores and not about delivering justice.
Panel to monitor blasphemous online remarks
Bangladesh’s prime minister ordered the formation of a committee to monitor content posted online that could offend the country’s Muslim majority, officials said yesterday.
The nine member committee, headed by a senior bureaucrat at the home ministry, will take legal action against bloggers posting derogatory comments about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, government spokesman Abul Kalam Azad said.
“The home ministry will take necessary actions against the individuals uploading comments on their Facebook or blog pages undermining Islam and the Prophet,” the official said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s call for the Internet monitoring committee comes after an anti-Islamist blogger was killed last month by activists from an Islamist party.
Regulators earlier blocked a few blogs and Facebook pages as atheists and Islamists launched campaigns against each other following the February 15 murder of blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider.
Haider was one of the organisers of a demonstration that demanded capital punishment for a leader of the Islamist Jammat-e-Islami party for war crimes committed during Bangladesh’s 1971 liberation war.



Hindus under attack in Bangladesh, temples destroyed

Source: ZEENEWS

Dhaka: The revenge attacks on Hindus that began after a top Islamist leader was sentenced to death for war crimes continue unabated in Bangladesh with the government appearing to be in position to contain the violence. 

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, vice-president of the Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, was sentenced to death on February 28 for crimes including rape and murder committed during the 1971 independence conflict. 

The death sentence to Sayedee and other JeI leaders has triggered the worst violence in the Muslim-majority country since independence; 85 people have so far lost their lives in the unrest. 

Hindus, their houses and temples had come under attacks in districts like Noakhali, Satkhira and Sirajganj. 
As per an organisation that looks after Hindu temples in the country, 47 temples and at least 700 Hindu houses had either been torched or vandalised by members of Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir.

Jamaat, which is an ally of Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nation Party, has denied any role in the attacks, blaming supporters of the ruling Awami League party for the violence. 

For the record, Zia has demanded that the government identify and punish the perpetrators through "neutral" investigation and compensate the victims. 

"I called upon the administration and law enforcers to prevent such attacks on minorities with an iron fist," said Khaleda. 

However, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni had said last week told diplomats last week that Jamaat and Shibir attacked Hindu temples and houses in a "pre-planned manner". 

Amnesty International has made an urgent appeal to the Bangladesh government to provide its minority better protection. 
“The Hindu community in Bangladesh is at extreme risk, in particular at such a tense time in the country. It is shocking that they appear to be targeted simply for their religion. The authorities must ensure that they receive the protection they need,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty’s Researcher. 

Hindus, who make up 8-10 percent of Bangladesh's 153 million-strong population, are traditionally seen as supporters of the Awami League, which brands itself as a secular party. 

They were the main targets during Bangladesh's 1971 independence war against Pakistan and during post-poll violence in 2001 when a centre-right party allied with Jamaat won a two-thirds majority.