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Bangladesh: Wave of anti-Hindu attacks must be fully investigated by authorities

© Munir Uz Zaman / AFP via Getty images

Seven people killed and hundreds injured in clashes that broke out across the country last week

Protection of Hindus and others must be guaranteed amid ongoing violence 

‘The state has failed in its duty to protect minorities’ - Saad Hammadi  

Responding to a recent wave of attacks on Hindu minority households and temples in Bangladesh during and after the Durga Puja, the country’s biggest Hindu festival, Saad Hammadi, Amnesty International’s South Asia Campaigner, said: 

“Reports of a spate of attacks by angry mobs against members of the Hindu community, their homes, temples and puja pandals during the country’s biggest Hindu festival, are symptomatic of the growing anti-minority sentiment in the country.

“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.  

“Targeting religious sensitivities to stoke communal tension is a serious human rights violation, and requires immediate and decisive action from the government to address the situation of minorities in the country.  

“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 of responsibility for the violence and vandalism to account through fair trials.” 

‘Desecration of Quran’ claims

Violence erupted following allegations on social media that a copy of the Quran, was desecrated at a puja pandal (temporary structures made for the religious ceremony) in the city of Cumilla in the east of Bangladesh. At least seven people have been killed and hundreds injured in clashes that broke out across the country on 13 October. 

According to local reports, yesterday at least 25 houses and shops belonging to members of the Hindu community were torched in Rangpur, a northern district of Bangladesh. The country’s information minister Hasan Mahmud has warned of further attacks. 

Today, teachers and staff from Dhaka University blocked a major intersection in the city in protest at the ongoing violence. 

In 2016, the authorities initiated eight separate cases accusing thousands of people of involvement in the burning down of hundreds of homes, businesses and temples belonging to Hindu families in the Nasirnagar district after the appearance of social media posts that allegedly insulted Islam. In 2012, at least six Buddhist temples and several homes were torched apparently over a Facebook post allegedly defaming the Quran. 

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