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Monday, January 13, 2014

Hindu people living in anxiety in Gaibandha

Source: Dhaka Tribune



Many families have already taken shelter at their relative houses to save their lives plus honour

Fearing further attacks by anti-liberation forces, people of Hindu community have been living life with grave anxiety.
Male persons of Hindu families have started patrolling villages with lethal weapons to protect themselves from Jamaat-Shibir attacks, locals said.
Many families have already taken shelter at their relative houses to save their lives plus honour. 
Principal Paresh Chandra Saha, president of the Bangladesh Hindu, Boudha, Khristan Oikya Parishad, said the miscreants also continued issuing threat to the minority families of Sundarganj, Sadullapur, Palashbari and Gobindaganj upazilas so that they could not dare to go to polling centres during re-elections scheduled to be held on January 16.
A Hindu man was killed and 28 incidence of violence had taken place in Sadar, Sundarganj, Sadullapur, Palashbari and Gobindaganj upazilas of the district during pre and post-poll violence, says a press release issued by Bangladesh Hindu, Boudha, Khristan Oikya Parishad, district unit.
The miscreants allegedly belong to anti-liberation Jamaat-Shibir conducted their destructive activities through attacking the Hindu families, vandalising their houses and furniture, looting properties and setting fire to it during the period, leaving the minorities panicked.
The anti-liberation forces also beat two presiding officers, Kanti Bhuson Barmon and Mukul Chandra Borman, while they were going to polling centres with electoral materials the day before election.
Now, they are undergoing treatment at Rangpur Medical College Hospital.
Besides, the fanatics also exploded two crude bombs at the homesteads of two minority families on the Election Day in a bid to create panic among Hindus, said the release.
Apart from it, Satendranath Borman of Kachdaha village under Ramjibon union of Sundarganj upazila was beaten to death allegedly by Jamaat-Shibir men after the January-5 election.
Hindu people urged the government to take immediate measures to protect the Hindus and their properties by taking stern actions against the people involved in the attacks without any delay.
Meanwhile, cultural activists formed a human chain on Town Hall premises in Mymensingh town yesterday morning, protesting communal violence on Hindus across the country. Mymensingh Theatre Association organised the event.
They also demanded immediate arrest of the attackers to bring them to book.
Convener of Mymensingh Theatre Association and Secretary of Bahurupi Natya Sangstha Shahadat Hossain Khan Hilu, among others, addressed the programme.

Many families have already taken shelter at their relative houses to save their lives plus honour

Fearing further attacks by anti-liberation forces, people of Hindu community have been living life with grave anxiety.
Male persons of Hindu families have started patrolling villages with lethal weapons to protect themselves from Jamaat-Shibir attacks, locals said.
Many families have already taken shelter at their relative houses to save their lives plus honour.
Principal Paresh Chandra Saha, president of the Bangladesh Hindu, Boudha, Khristan Oikya Parishad, said the miscreants also continued issuing threat to the minority families of Sundarganj, Sadullapur, Palashbari and Gobindaganj upazilas so that they could not dare to go to polling centres during re-elections scheduled to be held on January 16.
A Hindu man was killed and 28 incidence of violence had taken place in Sadar, Sundarganj, Sadullapur, Palashbari and Gobindaganj upazilas of the district during pre and post-poll violence, says a press release issued by Bangladesh Hindu, Boudha, Khristan Oikya Parishad, district unit.
The miscreants allegedly belong to anti-liberation Jamaat-Shibir conducted their destructive activities through attacking the Hindu families, vandalising their houses and furniture, looting properties and setting fire to it during the period, leaving the minorities panicked.
The anti-liberation forces also beat two presiding officers, Kanti Bhuson Barmon and Mukul Chandra Borman, while they were going to polling centres with electoral materials the day before election.
Now, they are undergoing treatment at Rangpur Medical College Hospital.
Besides, the fanatics also exploded two crude bombs at the homesteads of two minority families on the Election Day in a bid to create panic among Hindus, said the release.
Apart from it, Satendranath Borman of Kachdaha village under Ramjibon union of Sundarganj upazila was beaten to death allegedly by Jamaat-Shibir men after the January-5 election.
Hindu people urged the government to take immediate measures to protect the Hindus and their properties by taking stern actions against the people involved in the attacks without any delay.
Meanwhile, cultural activists formed a human chain on Town Hall premises in Mymensingh town yesterday morning, protesting communal violence on Hindus across the country. Mymensingh Theatre Association organised the event.
They also demanded immediate arrest of the attackers to bring them to book.
Convener of Mymensingh Theatre Association and Secretary of Bahurupi Natya Sangstha Shahadat Hossain Khan Hilu, among others, addressed the programme.
- See more at: http://www.dhakatribune.com/law-amp-rights/2014/jan/14/hindu-people-living-anxiety-gaibandha#sthash.myi51hkR.dpuf

AHRC Press Release - BANGLADESH: Attacks on non-Muslims must stop now, forever

Source: Asian Human Rights Commission

Shame shadows Bangladesh again. Numerous attacks have been waged on the Hindu community across Bangladesh in the wake of the January 5th general 'election'. Houses and business establishments owned by Hindus have been targeted. Other ethnic and non-Muslim communities have also been attacked. Temples and religious sites have not been spared. Few hundred Hindu families have lost their property and savings in acts of vandalism, loot, and arson. Numerous women and children from minority communities, have fled their homes, and are in hiding in fear of further attacks. Their homes destroyed, some sleep under the open sky in the cold air of winter nights. Neither the state nor humanitarian organizations have responded with adequate food and shelter for the victims.
Thousands of Joint Forces troops, comprising the police, Rapid Action Battalion, and Border Guards, have remained deployed for tightening 'election period' security. The Bangladesh Army has also been on the street to 'aid' the government since December 2013. All these swarming forces have failed to prevent the attacks and protect the minority population.
This is, of course, not the first such series of attacks; it is only the latest instance in a litany of shameful attacks on the dwindling minority population of Bangladesh. Attacking minorities has become an election tradition in the country. Whether real or fake, rigged or boycotted, no election appears to be complete without literal minority bashing. It is time Bangla literature updates its historical reference to there being only 6 seasons in the land. The election period is now akin to a separate season in itself, one in which vandalism, loot, arson, and attack on minority establishments is a key feature.
How long can the non-Muslim communities sustain such barbarity?
Targeting of non-Muslims for political gains is done by both parties that win and parties that lose elections. Of course, many Muslims also fall victim to the seasonal violence of elections; at least five lives have been lost in post election violence this year, not to mention over a hundred killed in the lead-up to the election. Apart from political gains, such attacks, orchestrated by powerful people, linked to the ruling or opposition parties, are often undertaken for grabbing land and assets. The attacks on Hindus, in particular, also open undue opportunities to politicians beyond borders, for earning 'extra' benefits, again, at the cost of the dignity and interests of the people of Bangladesh.
Following this latest rounds of attacks on minorities, the government has hurled accusations on opposition political parties. The pro-government media and civil society has echoed the story of the attacks having been undertaken by the opposition. The police, virtually across the country, have registered complaints maintaining the position of the pro-ruling party, holding the opposition responsible. The chief opposition party, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and its ally, Bangladesh Jamaat-E-Islami (BJI), have, in turn, blamed the ruling party, the Bangladesh Awami League (BAL), for the attacks.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has had the opportunity to enquire after the well-being of victims in Chapatala village, Avoynagar, in Jessore district. The victims' version of events contradicts the government's take. Residents of Chapatala state the following:
They say Mr. Ranjit Kumar Roy, a ruling party candidate, a Hindu, won the election. Cadres of the defeated candidate, Mr. Abdul Wahab – who was a leader of the Bangladesh Awami League until he was denied a ticket by the party this election – led the attacks. Supporters of few other political parties, those with links to the attack leaders, and local 'petty criminals', thieves and muggers, jointly committed the crimes. Around seventy lower caste Hindu families lost most of their assets as a result. Their houses and shops have been looted, belongings burnt.
It must be noted that Abdul Wahab also happens to be a Whip in the yet to be dissolved 9th Parliament. On December 28, 2013, Wahab held an election campaign meeting at Sundali Primary School ground adjacent to Chapatala village. In that meeting Wahab allegedly threatened Hindu families with dire consequences if he were to lose the election to his Hindu counterpart. The Hindu inhabitants of Chapatala village did not imagine that the victory of Mr. Ranjeet Kumar Roy would cause them so much misery. The case of Chapatala makes it clear that politicians of all hues are behind such dastardly violence.
The AHRC has learned that local administrations in some districts have provided relief and remuneration to some victims. While adequate relief is essential, and must cover all the affected, what is really required is 'justice' for the victims. To ensure justice, the institution of a judicial probe commission is the need of the hour, to investigate and prosecute perpetrators regardless of their political or religious identity. However, if history is any indicator, AHRC is well aware that even if such a commission were to be instituted, something highly unlikely, the incumbent regime would only go so far as to abuse it. Such criminal investigations surrounding the communal attacks will only likely end up as another tool for those in power to further corner political opposition.
The AHRC notes the statement of Mr. Subrata Chowdhury, President of Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Oikkya Parishad and a Supreme Court lawyer. BBC Bangla Service news has recorded him stating that "now, it has been accused that Jamaat-Shibir committed the attacks. It is made to be a slogan. In reality, it has been seen that it is not the Jamaat-Shibir who have attacked in all the cases. We have found that in many places the Awami Leaguers are involved too. If Jamaat-Shibir have committed these, then why the government is not bring them to the book and why actions are not being taken against the public officials for failing to prevent such incidents?" Mr. Chowdhury asked.
The realities are truly unfortunate, as Bangladesh has a long and commendable history of communal harmony, unlike neighbouring nations. The people, regardless of their religious background, fought for the country's independence in 1971. Together, they sacrificed lives on the battle field. If any roadside tea-stall plays a song such as "Mora Ekti Fulkey Bachabo Boley Juddho Kori" [We struggle for protecting each and every flower], any Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, and ethnic community member will sing along in chorus. Ordinary citizens of Bangladesh have deep bonds beyond their communal identities. It is, however, the shamelessly dirty politics atop the nation, and the unforgivable failure of the civil and police administration to prevent attacks on non-Muslims, that has butchered the people's history.
The people must unite again to prevent the politics of communal violence. It is not merely a loss for the minorities, in terms of their houses, businesses, and valuables. Trust and respect in society, which money cannot buy, is lost in such attacks. The social fabric of Bangladesh is rent asunder. The country's image and, in particular, that of the Muslim majoritarian community is besmirched internationally. The historic fraternity of the people must resurface, stronger, to sideline those paralyzed by greed. The parties that fail to end such bloody politics must be relegated to the bin of history. Communal violence must be stopped now and forever.
Document Type :
Statement
Document ID :
AHRC-STM-014-2014

Hindu Farmer Murdered in Bangladesh, Houses Burnt

Source: Indian Express

Published: 12th January 2014 04:43 PM
Last Updated: 12th January 2014 04:44 PM 

A Hindu farmer was stabbed to death while his wife and relative were injured Sunday by a masked assailant in Natore district of Bangladesh.
In a separate incident, the rioters Saturday tried to burn two Hindu houses in Jhalokathi's Nolchiti area. The fire damaged a temple in one of the houses, reported bdnews24.com.
Police said Haripad Mondol, 50, and his wife Bishaka Rani, 45, were attacked in their house in Bagdome Mondolparha area.
Mondol died on his way to a hospital while Rani was admitted to the hospital.
The assailant also stabbed Mita Rani, Mondol's niece.
Md Ibrahim, officer-in-charge of Barhaigram police station, said police were trying to ascertain the motive behind the murder.
Meanwhile, Dilip Shil of Abhoynil village said he saw the temple's terrace on fire in Jhalokathi's Nolchiti area.
A.F.M. Anwar Hossain, district assistant Superintendent of police, told bdnews24.com that Abhoynil and Fulhori villages were also attacked Saturday in separate incidents.
Meanwhile, families of two Hindu women in Jessore, who were reportedly raped during the riots after the parliamentary elections Jan 5 in the country, have fled their village after filing a case with police.
On Jan 7, rioters attacked the Hindus at Hajrail village in the district. A family member of one of the women said that the rioters broke their door and asked if they participated in the polls.

String of attacks rattles Bangladesh's Hindus

Source: IBN Live

Bangladesh's Hindus have been rattled by a string of attacks linked to the recent controversial general election, with leaders of the minority community saying such violence can be stopped only if the government takes stern action against perpetrators.
Activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami were blamed for attacks on the Hindus, who were accused of backing the Awami League which won the January 5 polls despite a boycott by the opposition.
The activists torched, vandalised and looted homes, shops and businesses establishments of Hindus in the northwestern districts of Dinajpur, Lalmonirhat and Thakurgaon and at Noapara in western Jessore district, which was the worst affected area. According to statistics from the Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council (HBCUC), 485 households and 578 shops owned by Hindus in 32 districts were vandalised since the election schedule was announced on November 25.
String of attacks rattles Bangladesh's Hindus
String of attacks rattles Bangladesh's Hindus

During this period, 152 temples were also damaged. "It appeared that the state has failed to take adequate steps to protect the minority community," said Mizanur Rahman Khan, chairman of the statutory Bangladesh Human Rights Commission.
Hindu community leaders have cautiously welcomed government actions to prevent attacks on minorities, including a decision last week to set up special tribunals under an anti-terror law to punish those responsible for violence. "We see the situation is improving with no major attacks or intimidation if Hindus in the past two days thanks to growing social resistance and government action," Kajal Debnath, presidium member of the HBCUC, told.
But the community leaders feared the improvement could be a short-lived phenomenon if culprits were not brought to justice quickly and given stern punishment like life sentence. "The most important deterrent could be making a provision under which lawmakers of a (violence-affected) constituency will be held liable along with ensuring the accountability of the local administration and police for any attacks or intimidation," Debnath said.
Information Minister Hassanul Haq Inu reiterated the government s "zero tolerance" policy for communal intimidation as announced by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He told PTI that steps were being taken for "stern punitive actions" against culprits.
"But first of all, let me tell you this is not any communal violence. The attacks were carried out with a political motive to create instability and affect our relations with regional nations," Inu said. He said dozens of culprits had been detained as part of a massive clampdown and the situation would improve further after the new Awami League government assumes office.
Lawmakers would go their respective areas and oversee an anti-communal campaign after the government is installed. The HBCUC staged a nationwide black flag protest over the attacks on Saturday, with the main protest held in Dhaka, where activists demanded the enactment of tougher laws to prosecute culprits in fast tracks courts and compensate victims.
Hundreds of youths carrying banners of the Ganojagaran Mancha or "mass upsurge movement" joined a march towards Jessore, where Hindus were the worst victims of violence. Government officials said the attacks on Hindus would be categorised as acts of "terrorism". Shafique Ahmed, the Prime Minister's law affairs adviser, said a process has been initiated to try the culprits under the Terrorism Prevention Act.
The Law Ministry has already taken the initiative of forming tribunals in consultation with the Supreme Court. Home Secretary C Q Moshtaque said the paramilitary Border Guard Bangladesh was kept in place despite the end of their election duties to asked to prevent fresh attacks on Hindus. Action had also been taken against several deputy commissioners and police superintendents for their failure to prevent attacks, he said.
Government-sponsored social committees had been revived to protect minorities and the districts administrations were asked to reach out to Hindus to give them moral support.
The mass circulation Prothom Alo reported that one Hindu died in panic of a heart attack after some persons set on fire hay stashed in his backyard in northwestern Joypurhat. Premier Sheikh Hasina blamed her arch-rival BNP chief Khaleda Zia for the violence. She promised strict action against the culprits, saying: "Everyone responsible for attacks on the minority community will face stern punishment."
In many places, opposition activists attacked both Hindus and supporters of the AL for defying an opposition call to boycott the polls which the BNP described as "farcical". But the BNP said in a statement that attacks on Hindus were being carried out at the government's instigation to divert people's attention from massive criticism of the polls.
BNP acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, who issued the statement, asked opposition leaders and activists to take effective steps to protect minorities. Minorities account for 9.7 per cent of Bangladesh's population of 150 million and, according to the last census, Hindus make up about 8.4 per cent of the populace.

Bangladesh EC asks authorities to prevent attacks on Hindus

Source: Post

Bangladesh Election Commission
Bangladesh Election Commission

"We have asked the law enforcement agencies to specially resist attacks on minority communities in different parts of the country in the wake of the January 5 parliamentary election," said Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad.
Ahmad issued the order during a meeting with security agencies on maintaining law and order during re-polling in eight constituencies on January 16.
Members of the minority community were attacked by workers of the main Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its right-wing ally Jamaat-e-Islami in Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Thakurgaon, Panchagarh and Jessore districts both before and after the polls.
Reports said Hindus were targeted by Opposition activists for backing the Awami League which swept the polls following a boycott by the BNP-led opposition alliance.
The Opposition activists torched, vandalized and looted homes, businesses establishments and shops of Hindus.
On Tuesday, unidentified men reportedly raped two Hindu women at gun point in front of their relatives for casting their votes in Jessore.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has promised stern action against those responsible for attacks on minorities. She on Friday blamed her arch-rival BNP chief Khaleda Zia for the violence against Hindus.
The government decided this week to set up special tribunals under an anti-terror law to punish the perpetrators of violence against Hindus.

Attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh continue, one more killed

Source: Z News

Dhaka: A Hindu man was stabbed to death and a temple was damaged in two separate attacks in Bangladesh as violence against the minority community continued despite the government's warning of stern action.

Haripad Mondol, a 50-year-old well-off farmer, died after he was stabbed by a masked assailant in his home in northern Natore district today. His wife Bishaka Rani, 45, and some relatives were injured in the attack, police were quoted as saying by Bdnews24.

Mondol's younger brother Chaitanya said the dead farmer had inherited a huge property but did not have any children. They did not have any feud with their neighbours, he said.

Police officials said they were trying to ascertain the motive behind the murder.

Mita Rani, the victim's niece, said she had seen the masked person stabbing her uncle just after midnight. The assailant also stabbed Mita before fleeing.


In Nolchiti area of southwestern Jhalokathi district, a temple was damaged when unidentified persons tried to burn down the homes of two Hindu families late yesterday.

Police official A F M Anwar Hossain told Bdnews24 that local residents and the two households doused the flames.

The flames partly damaged a temple in one of the homes, he said. The fire gutted images of Hindu gods but people put it out before it could do more damage.

Police are investigating whether the incidents were premeditated. Activists of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami have been blamed for attacks on Hindus, who were accused of backing the Awami League which won the January 5 polls after a boycott by the opposition.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has blamed her arch-rival, BNP chief Khaleda Zia, for the attacks on minorities. The government last week said it would set up special tribunals under an anti-terror law to punish those responsible for the violence.

Bangladesh’s Radical Islamists Get U.S. Backing

Source: The Daily Beast


Photo by Reuters

In 1971, the U.S. abetted a genocide in Bangladesh—and it’s now siding with the radical Islamist culprits, who are fomenting the country’s latest political crisis.
In 1971, the United States abetted a genocide in what is today Bangladesh. President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, provided diplomatic and military succour to the Pakistan army and its Islamist allies as they slaughtered three million people, displaced ten million, and forced half a million Bengali women into sexual servitude. There has never been an apology from Washington. But 42 years after it got into bed with Islamist genocidaires in Bangladesh, the U.S. appears once again to be espousing their cause.
On Sunday, Bangladesh held the 10th general election since it became an independent state. The principal opposition—made up of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its chief ally, the Bangladesh Jamat-e-Islami, a clerical ensemble of alleged war criminals and aspiring theocrats—boycotted the vote. Their walkout was prompted by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s refusal to transfer power to a caretaker administration. Yet in spite of their withdrawal the polls, being constitutionally mandatory, went ahead. The ruling Awami League party, without a formidable opposition, won in a landslide. But, far from being a perfunctory show, this election was the most violent in the country’s history. Eighteen people were slain as the opposition, having sworn to keep out, showed up on election day to deter people from exercising their franchise. Polling stations were torched, voters threatened not to step out of their homes, and volunteers of the Awami League were assaulted by mobs. The warriors of the Jamat expressed their “disaffection” by raiding the villages of feeble religious minorities. As one Bangladeshi commentator put it: “In its 42 years of existence, Bangladesh has never seen such violence. It seems like someone has just opened the gates of hell.”
Hasina’s decision not to vacate her office, in defiance of a recent convention, was a grievous mistake. Attempting to remedy it by pushing her to concede to the opposition as it stands now—which is what Washington and its allies are doing—would be suicidal for Bangladesh. The violence that has devoured parts of Bangladesh over the last week was not a spontaneous outburst by disgruntled democrats. It was a campaign of terror calibrated to delegitimize the election and generate chaos, invite a crackdown, depict Hasina as a tyrant to Western governments while weakening her at home, and ultimately halt Bangladesh’s arduous effort—initiated by Hasina—to achieve a sincere reconciliation with its past.
At a time when Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto was aiding the Taliban’s rise in Afghanistan, Hasina was taking on Islamists cut from the same ideological cloth as the Taliban.
The opposition is afraid of the past because its revered members are culpable for some of the most agonizing memories it evokes. Thirteen battalions of mostly Bengali Islamists assisted the Pakistan army in carrying out the single largest massacre of Muslims since the birth of Islam—“a jihad against Hindu-corrupted Bengalis,” as one American witness to the events in 1971 in what was then East Pakistan called them. Kissinger and Nixon, having recruited Pakistan as a conduit in their effort to broker relations with Mao’s China, condoned the massacres. They told each other jokes about the killings. After independence, when East Pakistan established itself as Bangladesh, the new state gave itself a secular constitution. Sheikh Mujib, the father of the new nation, was fierce in the beginning. An act of parliament was passed in 1973 to set up a tribunal with jurisdiction to punish the perpetrators of the genocide. Two years later Mujib, along with almost every member of his family, was assassinated in a coup. Hasina, who was then living in Germany, survived. She was barred from entering the country. Gen. Ziaur Rahman, who took over the country in 1977, scrapped secularism and made “absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah” a fundamental feature of the constitution. When Rahman was assassinated in 1981, his wife, Khaleda Zia, took charge of his Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Islamists who a decade ago had slaughtered their compatriots in service of the Pakistan army became active once again in Bangladeshi politics.
There are no innocents in Bangladeshi politics and every politician is tainted by accusations of corruption. Yet Hasina, for the sheer resolve with which she combated the religious right, must rank among the most formidable women in recent history. At a time when Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto was aiding the Taliban’s rise in Afghanistan, Hasina was taking on Islamists cut from the same ideological cloth as the Taliban. She overcame exile, survived assassination attempts, and rebuilt the Awami League. Her party, the secular alternative in Bangladesh, has provided a modicum of protection to religious minorities. In 2010, she revived the war crimes tribunal: nearly four decades after the crimes, a whiff of justice. Oddly, instead of welcoming the trials, some of the world’s leading Islamic leaders urged Hasina to drop them. Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, the world’s leading authority on genocide denial, wrote to Hasina asking her to spare some of the convicts. But this was Bangladesh’s moment. Hundreds of thousands of young men and women poured into the streets of Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, demanding harsher punishments than the tribunal awarded.
Zia, in bed with the Islamists who were being dispatched to the gallows by the tribunal, found her appeal ebbing. Women are key drivers of growth in Bangladesh. The $12 billion garment industry is virtually dependent on their labour. But if Zia’s allies had their way, women would be forced out of the workforce and into the veil. At home, Zia’s “nationalist” outfit has supported men who are enemies of the Bengali nation. Abroad, Zia has vigorously projected herself as a victim. She has accused Hasina of suppressing democracy. But she’s hardly innocent: it’s her party which pulled out of the elections and forcibly stopped people from voting.
Now that elections are over, violence is the only instrument at Zia’s disposal. She and her allies will attempt to disrupt normal life to the point where the government will either have to assume authoritarian powers or negotiate with her. The status quo is untenable. Hasina will almost certainly dissolve the government and call fresh elections. But it’s important to grasp that democracy is not in peril in Bangladesh. Secularism is. Sanctions, now being contemplated in some capitals, will hurt ordinary Bengalis and assist the far right. They may reverse the gains of the previous half-decade. To get a sense of Hasina’s accomplishment during this time, consider these words by the author Salim Mansur: “a democratically elected government in a Muslim majority country for the first time in fourteen centuries of Arab-Muslim history arranged for, and brought to trial, Muslims charged with crimes against humanity.” Is there a leader in the contemporary Muslim world with a profile quarter as courageous as that?
Any attempt to interfere in Bangladesh’s affairs must begin with the realisation that Zia is not the victim. She is the force behind the unrest. Washington, given its awful history in Bangladesh, has a special obligation to ensure that it doesn’t, in the name of upholding democracy, end up once again giving succour to mass murderers and their political allies.