Friday, August 01, 2014

Hindu Victims Still Ignored

With the world's attention focused on headline grabbing international matters in Gaza, the Ukraine, Syria and soon somewhere else, victims of ongoing human rights atrocities continue to suffer as they have day after day, month after month, year after year.  For whatever set of reasons, Hindus in Bangladesh have always found their victimization pushed aside by "more important" matters.  And today, while the UN Security Council and others posture and issue declarations about hundreds dying in the Middle East, they are silent about the millions of Bangladeshi Hindus who face government tolerated atrocities daily; atrocities that include murder, rape (including gang rape), child abduction, forced conversion, religious desecration, and more.

There is Eti Biswas, 22 years old when she was abducted in December 2012, who has not been seen since.  The Bangladeshi government has refused to help find the young woman and bring her back to her family; nor has it prosecuted the known perpetrators who openly boast of their "victory."  Worse, the act was retaliation against the family because they refused to abandon their small piece of land simply because they are Hindu; and in fact local officials participated in the abduction.  Koli Goswami was 20 years old when she was abducted in 2009, and she is still missing.  Local police, a magistrate, and even an Awami League MP hatched a cover-up and warned her guardian to back off or his daughters would suffer the same fate.

And right now, 15 Hindus remain in custody in Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's home district, accused of murdering a Muslim.  The latter stormed a Hindu temple, started desecrating deities and abusing women; and when locals stopped him, he was killed.  The men awaiting trial were picked up seemingly at random and charged with the crime.  Perhaps because it knows that the charges are false, the Bangladeshi government has deprived them of due process.  Their families engaged the prominent human rights attorney, Rabindra Ghosh, to represent the accused.  Yet, when he went to see his clients, he was beaten by anti-Hindu lawyers in the courtroom and with the magistrate's tacit approval.  Since then, the local court has determined to proceed with the trial of these men--with those same anti-Hindu lawyers as their counsel.  Advocate Ghosh petitioned the Bangladeshi High Court for a simple change of venue (pretty reasonable given the facts), and was turned down flat.  By the way, there was a sixteenth Hindu accused of the crime, and he mysteriously died in custody.

For decades, the world's self-appointed guardians of human rights have ignored the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh, who have gone from almost a third of the population to perhaps one in 15.  It is high time we end our shameful silence.

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