The Crescent Report

July 20, 2010

Muslim, Interfaith and Human Right Leaders Concerned About Crisis of Democracy in Bangladesh

Filed under: From the Desk of Imam Mahdi Bray — Imam Mahdi Bray @ 4:21 pm

The current crackdown on political opposition, students, journalists and academicians by the ruling party (Awami League) in Bangladesh is receiving very little attention from the media and the United States Government.  Yet its potentials for increasing destabilization in an already volatile religion could be devastating.  Check out the piece below. Imam Mahdi Bray

Quote of the Day: “We who believe in freedom can not rest…until it comes.”

Muslim, Interfaith and Human Right Leaders Concerned About Crisis of Democracy in Bangladesh

Current Crackdown on Opposition Could Further Destabilize the Region

National Muslim organizations, interfaith leaders and human right activists in the United States are concerned that the recent arrest of key leaders of the Islamic Movement in Bangladesh (Jamaat-e-Islami), student activists, journalists and members of the political opposition have created a huge crisis in the nation.  These actions by the Bangladesh ruling party coalition (Awami League) might well result in violent confrontations between political dissidents and the government.  There is  also concern that the current U.S. government support for AL may actually reinforce, and protect, ongoing human rights violations that contradict the stated objectives of American foreign policy in this volatile region.

Many human rights experts also contend that these arrests and human rights violations are often carried out under the pretext of a Bangladesh government response to “terrorism”.

These arrests come at a time when AL is being accused of acts of extrajudicial killings, arrests, rape, and even the torture of the members of the Islamic opposition party which holds some 17 seats in the national legislature, and commands a following of some 12 million people in Bangladesh, according to the Christian Science Monitor, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the US State Department’s Human Rights Report on Bangladesh.

The national Muslim umbrella organization, the American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights and Elections (AMT) under the leadership of Dr. Agha Saeed, has expressed grave concern over the human rights conditions in Bangladesh.  American Muslim leaders have also expressed that the current government’s descent into authoritarianism, oppression of religious elements: dismantling freedoms, violating human rights and ending practices that promote  transparency could be exploited by extremist movements that, unlike Jamaat-e-Islami, BNP and other opposition groups, do not advocate peaceful means for social change in Bangladesh.

There is also concern that the current crackdown and arrest of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders, including the head of the Jamaat, Hajj Moitur Rahman Nizami, is meant to coincide with the start of a national tribunal investigating war crimes committed in 1971.  That was when Bangladesh, formerly known as East Pakistan, broke away from West Pakistan to establish an autonomous, predominantly Bengali republic. While the Awami League indicts the Islamic movement for complicity in the killings of civilians in this period of turmoil, other reliable sources contend that these acts of violence were carried out by other Bengalis who sided with the then-West Pakistan army.

Also, the current crackdown jeopardizes the rule of law, and the social and legal space that nonviolent opponents of the current Bangladeshi government.  While the Jamaat-e-Islami functions as a peaceful political opposition force in the country, some observers recognize the potential for mass violence in Bangladesh if the Awami League, and its political allies, continue their attack on Islamic opposition figures, trade unionists, intellectuals, and others dissidents.

An interfaith and human rights coalition is currently preparing to visit U.S. State Department officials and members of Congress to express its concerns about these events, and about current United States foreign policy in the region.  We believe that US support for the current regime and its policy will only impede efforts for nonviolent political change in Bangladesh, and potentially isolate America from progressive, nonviolent forces in that nation who now suffer from government repression.

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8 Comments »

  1. Bangladesh current regime promotes Soviet style totalitarian regime. When they first formed the govt. in 1972-1975 in newly indeppendent Bangladesh they first all Islamic parties subsequently banned all opposition political parties, all the news papers excdpt govt. contolled 4 newspapers, they killed 30 thousands political opponents, created Gestapo style “Rokkhi Bahin” . Unfortunately after 35 years – Bangladesh is seeing that BAKSAL era emerging again. Though they are getting US support because their rhetoric about “Islamic Terrorism” but US must know that Islamic Parties, especially Jamaat-e-Islami is a moderate, democratic party for over 60 years. They sided with US for countless critical time (e.g., Gulf war) – so US shouldn’t abandon this critical ally and chose fascist regime Awami League.

    Comment by Engr. Masud Rahman — July 20, 2010 @ 6:53 pm

  2. Thanks Imam to voice it out. We need some serious look into Bangladesh before it plunges into a civil war. Mainstream Muslims are persecuted right and left by the secular forces, which reminds us of Turkey.

    Comment by M. Nasser — July 20, 2010 @ 10:25 pm

  3. Dear Brother,

    Assalamu Alaikum. Thank you and Jazakumullah for your excellent writing and support for most innocent opprest people. Bangladesh Islamic people darely need your support. May Allah SWT. give you tawfiq to help them more. Current Bangladesh government working to perish Islam and Muslim in the country. We the muslim must work to stop Bangladesh government and come back from her evil agenda.

    Comment by Delwar Hossain — July 20, 2010 @ 11:41 pm

  4. What great step has been done to the grave situation in Bangladesh by Imam Mahdi. If we the world don’t speak out, an unjust will impose to the people of Bangladesh.

    Comment by kamal — July 21, 2010 @ 6:41 am

  5. Thank you Imam Bray for your excellent piece. De-islamization process has started ever since this AL led grand alliance came to Power. Although 85% of the populace in Bangladesh are Muslim, living in Bangladesh with faith in Islam has become a great trial now. Oppression on Opposition Political parties’ activitsts and leaders, minorities, rape, secret assasination, and looting other properties by the activitsts of Ruling Awami league have become now order of the day. US must act now to stop all these atrocities commited against the innocent populace of Bnagaldesh by the ruling Awami League.

    Comment by Zahid Zamir — July 21, 2010 @ 9:04 am

  6. Hi there

    The current Awami League government is irresponsible to say the least. It is vindictive, and will unleash something it can’t control

    Comment by Jasmine — July 21, 2010 @ 9:58 am

  7. Bangladesh is so low profile internationally, but regionally India wants to ensure that it can control this huge Muslim population on its borders.

    Comment by Jasmine — July 21, 2010 @ 10:01 am

  8. while the international community is turnign a blind eye, a power commentry like this frol such an influencial muslim leader will inevitebly have a huge impact.i am circulating this to all my contacts asap.
    Finally jazakumullah khaura for ur words shaikh!

    Comment by Ahmad — July 21, 2010 @ 11:00 am


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