6 March 2013
Bangladesh: Wave of violent attacks against Hindu minority
A wave of violent attacks against Bangladesh’s minority Hindu community
shows the urgent need for authorities to provide them with better
protection, Amnesty International said.
Over the past week, individuals taking part in strikes called for by
Islamic parties have vandalised more than 40 Hindu temples across
Scores of shops and houses belonging to the Hindu community have also been
burned down, leaving hundreds of people homeless.
The attacks come in the context of large scale violent protests that have
been raging across Bangladesh for weeks over the country’s ongoing war
crimes tribunal, the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT).
“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 International’s
“All political parties in Bangladesh should condemn strongly any violence
against the Hindu community, and to instruct all their members and
supporters not to take part in such attacks.”
Survivors told Amnesty International that the attackers were taking part in
rallies organised by the opposition Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and
its student group Chhatra Shibir.
JI has publicly denied any involvement in violence against the Hindu
Attacks have happened across Bangladesh, but mostly in remote areas in the
country. The latest attack took place today in Daudkandi village,
south-eastern Comilla district, where a Hindu temple was vandalised and
One survivor told Amnesty International that on 28 February, his family’s
village of Rajganj Bazar in the south-eastern Noakhali district was set on
fire by people taking part in a JI-organised strike.
“They moved into our properties and set fire to 30 of our houses.
Seventy-six families were living in these houses. They also set fire to our
temples – all are now vanished,” the survivor said, who asked to remain
anonymous out of concerns for his safety.
He said the authorities have provided temporary accommodation to the
affected families, who had lost almost all their belongings to theft or
destruction in the violence.
Another survivor said that on 2 March, a group of about 100 young men
holding banners in support of JI looted and damaged four shops in Satkania
near Chittagong and vandalised a Hindu temple in the village.
Bangladesh’s Hindu minority makes up only eight per cent of the population,
and has historically been at risk of violence from the Muslim population –
including during the independence war in 1971, and after elections in 2001.
“Given the obvious risks the Hindu minority faces in Bangladesh, these
attacks were sadly predictable. We urge the authorities to take note of the
violence and act to prevent further attacks,” said Faiz.
Tensions have been running high in Bangladesh in recent weeks as JI and its
student wing have called strikes and mass protests against the ICT, which
has found some of its senior members guilty for crimes committed during the
Protesters have also been involved in violent clashes with police, who have
used tear gas, rubber bullets or live ammunition against them. At least 60
people have been killed, mostly by police fire, but among the dead are also
“While there are credible reports that police firing may have followed
violent attacks against them by protesters, police use of excessive force
cannot be discounted”, Faiz said.
AI Index: PRE01/110/2013
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