Sunday, March 10, 2013

Condemning the Attacks on Christians in Pakistan and Hindus in Bangla Desh!

Sunday, March 10, 2013


The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), Mumbai condemns the attack on innocent Hindus in Bangladesh over the past week and Christians in Pakistan yesterday by a angry mob of 7,000 and more. We appeal to all Indians and the wider human rights community to join us  in condemning  these dastardly attacks.

While condemning the targeted and  violent attacks against Bangladesh's minority Hindu community, the CJP calls upon the Indian government and international organisations to ensure that the Bangladeshi authorities provide them with better protection. There have been disturbing reports that individuals taking part in the protests called by supremacist Islamic parties (including reportedly led by Jamaat-e-Islaami, Bangladesh) have vandalised more than 40 Hindu temples across Bangladesh, scores of Hindu homes and shops have also been burned down, leaving hundreds homeless. The attacks have come in the wake of protests to implement the findings of the country's ongoing war crimes tribunal, the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT). The role of the Jamaat-e-Islaami-Bangladesh has been pointed to in the recent anti-minority attacks. In Pakistan, regarding the targeted attack against a group of Christians in Lahore, the CJP urges the Indian government and international organisations to lend voice to their demand that the   the Punjab government should have given the Christian community more protection in Lahore following the false allegations of blasphemy.

All of us undersigned condemn these dastardly attacks and call for the immediate punishment of those guilty. It is long overdue that the demands of human rights activists from all countries in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal. Afganistan, Srilanka, Burma and Bhutan are met and a South Asian Commisison/Authority for Human Rights  Protection is established that looks into all instances of cross border human rights  violations, atrocities against women and children and traffking, caste atroctries and attacks on identities, ethnicities and religious minorities. CJP has been part of efforts to set  up this kind of mechanism for over a decade.

Teesta SetalvadSecretary & trustee

Other trustees: IM Kadri (Vice President), Raghunandan Maluste (Vice-President), Arvind Krishnaswamy (Treasurer), Alyque Padamsee, Cyrus Guzder, Javed Akhtar, Taizoon Khorakhiwala, Anil Dharkar, Rahul Bose, Javed Anand, Ghulam Pesh-Imam, Cedric Prakash

Background articles:-

Protect Bangladeshi Hindus, says Amnesty

Amnesty International has made an urgent appeal to the Bangladesh government to provide its minority better protection.
“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’s Researcher.
Survivors told Amnesty that the attackers were from the Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir.
In the report, ‘Bangladesh: Wave of Violent Attacks Against Hindu Minority’, Amnesty gave the country’s war crimes trial as the context to the violence against the minority.
The report said attacks on Hindus and other minorities were often reported from Bangladesh, especially from the far-flung areas. The latest attack took place on March 6 at Daudkandi in Comilla, where a Hindu temple was vandalised and burnt down. It said on Feb 28 a minority village of Rajganj Bazar in Noakhali was set on fire by the Jamaat supporters. According to Amnesty, Bangladesh’s Hindu minority constitutes only eight per cent of the population and has historically been at risk of violence. They suffered heavily during the 1971 liberation war and again after the 2001 parliamentary elections, when BNP-Jamaat coalition came to power.

Bangladesh: Jamaat continues attacking Hindus

Jamaat-Shibir attacks on Hindu community and their temples continued in different parts of the country yesterday creating widespread fear among general people living unprotected in rural areas. Reports of arson, vandalism and physical assaults on members of Hindu community and also on Awami League activists have been rampant since Thursday, when the International Crimes Tribunal-1 had awarded death penalty to Jamaat leader Delawar Hossain Sayedee. Yesterday in Khulna, more than 300 Jamaat-Shibir and BNP acitivists brought out a procession from Chad Ali Bridge in Amadi Bazar area of Koyra upazila around 10:30am, during the BNP-called hartal. Locals said the focus of the procession suddenly turned to Dhopapara, an extremely poor locality with predominantly Hindu population traditionally making a living on washing clothes. Within minutes, eight houses belonging to Hindus were set ablaze. While the Hindu men, women and children ran for safety, the attackers looted whatever they could put their hands on.

The attackers soon swooped on to nearby Amadi Bazar. They broke into eight to 10 shops belonging to local Hindus and looted them before being dispersed by Border Guard Bangladesh and police personnel around noon. Meanwhile, the attack left a woman and a young man injured. They were admitted to the local health complex. Amiya and Apurbo Das, who lost their home in the attack, said neighbours had tried to douse the fire but their thatched house stood no chance. Others who lost their houses to the arson include Subodh Das, Kartik Das and Sona Das. Each of the victim families had more than one thatched house. The attackers also torched a prayer room set up inside a house. “We do not know what to do and are living in fear of further attacks,” said Apurbo Das. Locals said the attackers also unleashed violent assaults on several residents.

Officer-in-Charge (OC) Khairul Kabir of Koyra Police Station said they had arrested two Shibir activists from the area. “Two to three houses were torched and looted and about eight shops were looted during the attack,” said the OC. Superintendent Golum Rouf Khan of Khulna police said BNP and Jamaat-Shibir men had set fire to thatched houses and a semi-concrete structure, and vandalised shops belonging to local Hindus. The ploy in which attacks on Hindu temples and idols were executed, bear striking similarity in most cases throughout the country. At Rotherpar village in Aditmari upazila of Lalmonirhat, religious fanatics entered the Sree Sree Shoshan Kali Mandir [temple] some time early hours yesterday and vandalised the temple smashing the idol of goddess Kali. President of the temple committee Subhas Chandra Roy said they had lodged a written complaint with the police and it was now up to the law enforcers to take action.

At Lakhirpar village under Kotalipara upazila in Gopalganj, zealots set fire to a temple of goddess Kali on Monday around 7:45pm. The fire partially gutted the temple and destroyed four idols of the goddess. The arson instantly drew protests in the area. Kotalipara police detained five suspects in this connection. In Natore, Jamaat-Shibir men are strengthening themselves in the border areas of Lalpur upazila where Awami League activists and members of the Hindu community are living in fear. On Monday evening, Jamaat-Shibir men in a bid to spread further panic set fire to a temple of Shoair village under Singra upazila and destroyed the Hori Protima [the idol of god Hori]. Isahaq Ali, secretary of Lalpur upazila unit Awami League, said Jamaat-Shibir men were capitalising on the innocence of the villagers through anti-minority propaganda.

“The situation is such that we cannot even go to the border areas of Char Jazira, Horir Char and Gorgoria where on the one hand, gangs of Jaamat-Shibir rule and on the other, outlaws roam around at large,” said Isahaq Ali. In Chittagong, Hindu temple Sarbajaneen Magadeshwari Mandir at East Rupkania of Satkania upazila was torched early yesterday. Sukumar Nath, a local resident, said the arson took place around 2:30am. “We woke up by the sound bamboos cracking in fire and witnessed our holy temple burn to ashes,” said Nath, adding, “We do not know who did it.” Sub-Inspector Nazmul Alam of Satkania Police Station said the pattern of all the arson attacks leads police to suspect that Jamaat-Shibir fanatics had been involved in the act. Since Thursday, Jamaat-Shibir men had wrecked havoc in the area, mainly targeting the Hindu community.

The fanatics have changed their tactics for attacks on the state mechanisms. In Jhenidah, Lalmonirhat, Satkhira and elsewhere they shielded their attack force by luring rural women and children in the front line of the processions with religious propaganda. In Uzirpur upazila of Barisal district, miscreants tried to set fire to Guthia Sarbajaneen Kali Mandir [temple] under Guthia union early yesterday. President of the temple committee Sudhir Malakar said some miscreants had thrown burning torches of straw and tree branches inside the temple and fled the scene. The fire died automatically as the branches and straw were not so dry but yet it partially damaged the fences said Sudhir, adding that they had informed the local upazila parishad chairman of the incident. Officer-in-Charge Anwar Hossain of Uzirpur Police Station said a general diary had been lodged with them and that they had visited the spot and started investigating the arson attempt.

25 Christian houses burnt over blasphemy

From the Newspaper |  | 12 hours ago
Pakistani police officials examine the burnt out houses of members of the Christian community attacked by Muslim demonstrators during a protest over alleged blasphemous remarks by a Christian in a Christian neighborhood in Badami Bagh area of Lahore on March 9, 2013. - Photo by AFPPakistani police officials examine the burnt out houses of members of the Christian community attacked by Muslim demonstrators during a protest over alleged blasphemous remarks by a Christian in a Christian neighborhood in Badami Bagh area of Lahore on March 9, 2013. – Photo by AFP
LAHORE: A mob enraged over alleged blasphemy set on fire a number of houses belonging to Christians in Badami Bagh on Saturday.
There was no casualty as members of the Christian community, including women and children, had left the neighbourhood on Friday night after police advised them to do so.
A church and several shops were also torched by the mob. Police put the number of burnt houses at 125. Around 25 were arrested.
The blasphemy suspect was identified as 26-year-old Sawan Masih. Police took him into custody in the small hours of Saturday. Later a magistrate sent him on judicial remand.
Thousands of protesters armed with sticks, clubs and stones ransacked Joseph Colony, which is surrounded by iron warehouses, and then set over 100 residential properties as well as some motorcycles and rickshaws on fire.
A clash between the police and the arsonists left a number of people injured from both sides.
Fire-fighters succeeded in dousing the flames after battling for several hours.
A heavy police contingent cordoned off the area for rescue work.
As soon as businessmen saw the mob, they shuttered their shops and warehouses.
Witnesses and police said an angry crowd ransacked and burnt the entire locality comprising 175 small houses, a day after all Christian families left the area because police had alerted them to the possibility of an attack.
They said a majority of attackers who had lodged a protest a couple of days ago assembled on Noor Road, facing Joseph Colony, and started setting houses and shops on fire.
The affected people accused police of doing nothing to pre-empt the plunder.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif issued orders for suspension of two police officers and for making two others OSD.
City SP (Operations) Multan Khan, who was made OSD, said the arson attacks began at around 11:30am and up to 7,000 people took part in it.
He said the accused and the complainant had quarrelled under the influence of liquor on March 7, but the latter painted it as a case of blasphemy.
The case was registered on March 8 under Section 295-C of the Blasphemy Act.“I returned after dropping my children at their school around 8am and saw people gathering at the roundabout. They later started throwing furniture and crockery from houses and burning them,” said Muhammad Safdar, a local resident.He said most of the attackers belonged to the Pakhtun community.
According to him, tension gripped the locality after Imran Shahid, a barber, and blasphemy accused Sawan exchanged hot words on Thursday.Safdar said most Christian families had left the area after Sawan’s house was attacked on Friday evening.
A group of protesters visited the police station on Saturday morning and asked police to identify the accused. Later people gathered outside the colony and ransacked houses, he added.Imran Shahid accused Sawan of making blasphemous remarks about Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) after the latter came to his shop.However, Dilawar Masih, who lost his house and shop in the attack, said: “Both Imran and Sawan are close friends and the former has made the allegation only to settle a personal score because they had quarrelled over some petty matter.”
Dilawar wondered why the attackers burned their houses after the accused was handed over to police by the mob.He said a few policemen deployed on Friday evening fled the next day after the angry crowd attacked the houses.A local woman, who identified herself as midwife Riaz, claimed Imran and Sawan dealt in liquor business and the former got the latter implicated in a fake blasphemy case. She said Sawan was handed over to police by local people, including Christians, on the demand of Muslims.
Raja Asif, standing outside his burnt house, said around 165 houses were destroyed.Religious scholars, led by the prayer leader of Badshahi Masjid, visited the place on Saturday and persuaded the mob to disperse.The Badami Bagh attack is the second such incident during the tenure of the PML-N-led Punjab government.A few years ago, people burnt a Christian colony in Gojra (Toba Tek Singh) over alleged blasphemy.
INQUIRY: President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf have ordered an immediate inquiry into the attacks.
“President Zardari called for a report into this unfortunate incident and said such acts of vandalism against minorities tarnish the image of the country,” his spokesman Farhatullah Babar said in a statement.Prime Minister Ashraf also ordered an “expeditious inquiry and measures to stop recurrence of such incidents”, his office said in a statement.
Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the government would not spare those involved in the attack.“These people committed a serious crime… there was no moral, legal or religious ground to indulge in such an act,” he told a TV channelThe exact number of houses in Joseph Colony was not immediately known but police and rescue officials said they belonged to low to middle-class families from the minority community.“At least 160 houses, 18 shops and two small churches were burnt by protesters,” Dr Raza, who was busy in rescue operations in the area, said.
Zohra Yusuf, chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, put the number of houses burnt at over 100. She criticised the provincial government in a statement and said “it totally failed in providing protection to a minority community under siege”.Shamaun Alfred Gill, a spokesman for the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance, also condemned the incident and called upon the government to ensure safety of life and limb to Christians.

Pakistan Christians rally over Lahore attacks

Protests in Karachi after mobs ransack and torch homes in Christian area of Lahore over alleged insult against prophet.
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2013 06:03
Angry protesters threw bricks at Christian houses after setting them on fire in Lahore [AP]
Dozens of Pakistani Christians have protested in Karachi, hours after mobs ransacked a Christian neighbourhood in Lahore and torched dozens of homes.
Mobs on Saturday caused widespread damage in the eastern Pakistani city after hearing reports that a Christian man had committed blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad, according to a police officer.
The group of Christians in Karachi said the Punjab government should have given the Christian community more protection in Lahore following the        allegations of blasphemy.
"It's very very sad and that's why I want to appeal to the government; please look into the matter and see also that the people who are affected, their properties are burnt," Father Peter John, from the Saint Patrick Church in Karachi, said.
"They should also get some sort of compensation."
Blasphemy is a serious crime in Pakistan that can carry the death penalty, but sometimes outraged residents exact their own retribution for perceived insults of the prophet.
Homes ransacked
On Friday night, a large crowd from a nearby mosque went to the home of the Christian man in Lahore accused of insulting the prophet, and police took the man into custody to try to pacify the crowd.
Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Christian families fled the area overnight.
Police said the mob returned on Saturday and began ransacking Christian homes and setting them ablaze.
The police spokesperson said no one in the Christian community was hurt, but several policemen were injured when they were hit with stones as they tried to keep the crowd from storming the area.
Pakistan is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, with Christians making up around two percent of the population.

No comments: