Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Real War in South Asia

Trained as a social scientist, I learned that if a factor appears in event after event, ignoring it is intellectually dishonest and ineffective analysis.  As recent terror blasts in the South Indian city of Hyderabad remind us, Islam is terrorism’s repeating factor; and no one has yet to explain effectively why it would not be dishonest to summarily dismiss it as one.  Moreover, the refusal of Muslim leaders lay and clerical to act assiduously against those who commit terror in their name is troubling, to say the least.  It should be inconceivable that we live in a world where a group calling itself Indian Mujahadeen sets off terrorist bombs in a crowded Indian market, and stuffs them with nails to create the maximum amount of human suffering; and every single Muslim in South Asia is not hunting down the terrorists.  But we do.  And the rest of the world is not calling them on it, which is our part of the problem.

Yet, having just returned from Bangladesh where Islamists and their appeasers are eliminating its Hindu population, I can say that on the ground this is not a war between Hindus and Muslims but one between decent people and people who have no decency regardless of religion.

In the far northern district of Dinajpur, I recently visited a remote village of 85 Hindu families, cut off from the rest of Bangladesh in almost every way:  no electricity, bad roads, not even a signal for my cell phone.  Some time before our visit, more than 100 marauding Muslims attacked the village; moving from home to home, taking some possessions and destroying the rest; from farm to farm stealing livestock and destroying crops.  They torched the homes burning many to the ground; and they abused many of the women (an all-too-common feature of these attacks).  By the time human rights attorney Rabindra Ghosh and I arrived, the villagers had largely rebuilt, but charred remnants were there, too.  More chilling, the attackers are threatening to return and finish the job if the people do not leave Bangladesh.

Those attackers have no decency; and neither do the Bangladeshi officials, local and national, who refuse to help the victims or prosecute the attackers and are thereby complicit in the terror.  Right now, the only thing that stands in their way is four local Muslim policemen.  They told us that prior to the attacks, no one ever came to the village but that since then, they get there as frequently as possible, often multiple times daily, to let the villagers’ tormenters know that they will have to get through them if they want to renew the attacks.  (Villagers confirmed this.)  They are doing this largely on their own since, as they admit, the government is taking no action.  They fear for the villagers, however, because they know they cannot be there all the time.

In a country where decisions by public servants are based on how much money they get for it, these Muslim policemen represent the apogee of decency.

On the other hand, two Hindu Members of Parliament (MPs) visited me, and I asked them why neither they nor their 15 colleagues (by their count) have done a thing to save their co-religionists or even raised their voice against it.  I indicated Bangladeshi human rights lawyer and tireless activist, Rabindra Ghosh, beside me and said he could provide them with a fresh atrocity that they can read into the record at every session of the Jatiya Sangsad.  They could protest the non-repeal of the Vested Property Act and introduce bills to rescind this economic engine of ethnic cleansing until it is.  I pointed out that 17 MPs is a large bloc, and that the only thing preventing them from acting was their personal greed and moral cowardice.

They are not decent people, but the many young Bangladeshis I met—both Hindu and Muslim—who are trying to fight for the safety of Hindus are.  For their service to their country, the Bangladeshi police and government—who are not decent—rewarded them with beatings and arrests.

Then there is Bangladesh’s Home Minister, Muhiuddin Khan Alamgir, particularly indecent because he is able to do something to stop the atrocities but refuses to do so.  On February 20, he and I had a rather acrimonious argument when he insisted that the government was doing just fine, thank you, in preventing attacks on Hindus.  I wondered how the people I met in that Dinajpur village would have responded.  His most insistent reply was that he “saw the enclaves of the Red Indians” in the United States and that “33 people were killed in Connecticut.” He also “countered” with “union membership has declined in the United States.”  Whether he really thought they have any relation to their government-aided ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh, or he was being cynical; the man has no decency.  Finally, he did ask me to provide him with evidence of any atrocities and he would have them investigated; but I asked him if he did not find it odd that he, the nation’s Home Minister sitting in its capital, was dependent on “some guy from Chicago” for information about events in Bangladesh.

Perhaps, however, the most indecent parties of all are the internationally referenced and well-funded  groups that claim the mantle of human rights defenders but who have actively ignored what has become an open secret in South Asia.  In its 2012 “Human Rights Report” on Bangladesh, Amnesty International did not even mention oppression of Hindus.  It claimed to have visited Bangladesh three times that year but could not find a trace of what has become an open secret that has been well-documented by organizations like the Hindu American Foundation, Global Human Rights Defence, and Bangladesh Minority Watch for years.

Amnesty International; Human Rights Watch; the UN with its misnomered human rights commission; the finger-wagging European Union, CNN, Reuters, the BBC, New York Times, Times of India, Times of London, the left-wing media, the right-wing media, and pretty much every other major “media”:  indecent for their willful ignorance of the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh and of those Islamists and appeasers that are guilty of doing it.

So let’s add it up.  Muslim police, Muslim and Hindu youth activists, activists like Rabindra Ghosh; decent.  Hindu MPs, Muslim attackers, Muslim cleric and political leaders, big name human rights organizations and media, and the Bangladeshi Home Minister; indecent.  The ledger seems tilted against decency right now, and it seems the only hope Bangladesh’s Hindus have is for decent people to change that.

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