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Bangladesh must ensure protection of Hindus and others: Amnesty International

  • News Desk,
    Published: 2021-10-18 23:38:01 BdST

Protesters occupy the Shahbagh intersection on Monday, Oct 18, 2021, in protest of attacks on Hindu temples and pandals around the country during Durga Puja. Photo: Asif Mahmud Ove

Amnesty International has called for urgent steps by the Bangladesh government to protect Hindus and other minorities in the country amid a spate of violent mob attacks.   

Hindu households, temples and puja venues in Bangladesh came under attack during and after the Durga Puja, the country’s biggest Hindu festival, which ended Friday.

These are “symptomatic of the growing anti-minority sentiment in the country,” Saad Hammadi, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, said in a statement on Monday. 

“Such repeated attacks against individuals, communal violence, and destruction of the homes and places of worship of minorities in Bangladesh over the years show that the state has failed in its duty to protect minorities.”

Hammadi described the targeting of religious sensitivities to stoke communal tension as a “serious human rights violation”. It requires “immediate and decisive action from the government,” he said.

“We urge the authorities to take urgent steps to protect the members of the minority community against such attacks and ensure access to justice and effective remedies for victims.

“The authorities must promptly, thoroughly, impartially and transparently investigate the incidents and bring those suspected to be responsible for the violence and vandalism to account through fair trials.”

Violence erupted in Bangladesh following allegations on social media that a copy of the Quran was desecrated at a puja venue in Cumilla on Oct 13.

At least eight people have reportedly been killed in attacks and clashes in several districts since then.

On Sunday night, a group of people carried out arson attacks in a village over an alleged blasphemous Facebook post by a resident, leaving about 20 homes burnt. 

A group of citizens on Monday blocked Shahbagh intersection in Dhaka in protest against the attacks.

The police have filed dozens of cases and arrested scores.