Will good sense ever prevail in the world? This question continues to haunt my mind and soul, especially after the recent communal violence against the peace-loving Buddhists living in the southeastern part of Bangladesh. Last weekend the villages of Ramu, Ukhiya and Teknaf of Cox’s Bazaar and Potiya of Chittagong suffered carnage like never before when dozens of temples including the 250-year-old Maitri (Friendship) Temple and at least 50 Buddhist homes were set ablaze in the most atrocious manner. The perpetrators then went on a looting rampage.
Precious artifacts including statues of Buddha were taken away. Besides Buddhist temples, Muslim radicals also destroyed Hindu temples.
Allegedly a young Buddhist man posted a photo on his facebook page insulting Islam, and this ‘allegation’ provoked violence of a magnitude that it no way matches the supposed blasphemy. Brutality of the ensuing violence aside, the very manner of this crime reflects that it was premeditated, and NOT just an instant reaction to a facebook photo. It appears that the attackers were ready with their plan well before the issue was created. How else within merely two hours of the alleged appearance of the facebook photo was a mob of thousands mobilized towards Ramu on buses and trucks, all geared with petrol and gun powder to burn down the marks of the oldest civilization of Bangladesh!
The archeology of Bangladesh is testament to the pioneering role of earlier Buddhists in establishing an enlightened civilization in this delta land. This same archeology also shows that various races of subsequent invaders kept on killing these peaceful humankinds to take over their motherland. Now, they have been marginalized to only one percent of the total population and left cornered in the southeastern part of Bangladesh. This time Muslim invaders are once again playing an all out game of terror and fear so that the Buddhist sons of the soil leave their motherland and radical looters can grab their land and wealth.
This game of terrorizing minorities in Bangladesh started after 1947 against the Hindus. We saw the same kind of mass attacks and evictions especially after the general elections of 2001 to push indigenous Hindus out of Bangladesh. It’s as if Bangladesh has lapsed into a primitive age run by jungle’s law. The 2001 genocide of Hindus never saw the face of justice and I believe it is that failure to provide justice which encouraged radical Muslims to carry out recent attacks against the Buddhist. The way Taliban destroyed ancient statues of Buddha in Afghanistan; our home-grown radical opportunists demonstrated the same savage pattern by demolishing and burning statues of Buddha in Bangladesh.
According to our minority leaders, the local police and administration maintained an unfamiliar silence during the rampage, burning and looting. Even the local MP and other area representatives were conspicuously absent during the violence and appeared only after damage had been done. No one was there to stand up for the victims.
Once the damage was done, the entire issue was made complicated by conflicting news stories, political war-mongering and rumors spread by interest-based groups. The Buddhists of Bangladesh are peaceful and harmonious people. The Rohingya issue in Myanmar could have been used as bait in instigating this violence. There is a possibility worth investigating that the Muslim radicals of Bangladesh used Rohingya refugees to create this chaos and use the situation to their advantage. Jamaat’s student wing has already started harvesting results in the shape of anarchy spreading across Bangladesh. The main opposition party, BNP, has launched a blame-game against the government, while conveniently forgetting the 2001 minority genocide during its own regime. The role of local Awami League leaders during the Ramu carnage is also under scrutiny. Does it mean that in case of violence against minorities Bengali Muslims are somehow united at heart? The answer to this question is of highest priority at this moment before claiming anymore that Bangladesh is a secular state.
Traditional media has the comparative memory of a fish, so it’s up to the virtual world to keep this issue alive. Like always, the government will perhaps form a committee to investigate the incident and submit its findings. We have hardly ever seen any such report published and/or pursued. The esteemed court is known to take suo moto action in such matters but that too loses momentum over time. Only the trauma and nightmare of the victims live on.
We strongly condemn this violence against a non-violent minority. We demand justice from a government that makes claims to secularism. If justice is delayed, it will once again be forever denied, and no one will be able to stop Bangladesh from heading towards complete radicalization.
NOTE: With new facebook settings anyone can post or tag anything to anyone’s page.