Stand Against Attacks and Extermination of Bengali Scholars, its Culture and Heritage in Bangladesh sign now

Recent Developments in Bangladesh

In recent months, a number of reputed scholars, writers, teachers, columnists, intellectuals, diplomats and politicians have either been murdered or attacked in Bangladesh in addition to attacks on their cultural, religious and social events and destruction of heritage. Apparently, they are the victims of 'target killing'. Anyone who writes against Islamic fundamentalist view points, critical of Jehadis and argues against social injustice and religious intolerance are being systematically murdered or attacked. Such barbaric acts started with the murder of Principal (President) Gopal Krishna Muhuri of Chittagong followed by attacks on Dr. Montasir Mamun, a reputed author/columnist and a Professor of the Dhaka University, Shahriar Kabir and Saleem Samad, reputed journalists, followed by murder of Dr. Humayun Azad, a noted author and a professor of the Dhaka University. Most recent victim is Dr. M. Yunus, a respected professor of the Rajshahi University. He was also the Vice President of the Bangladesh Economic Association, a professional organization. It is more disturbing that when the University authority lodged a compliant with the local police, six faculty and academic administrators, including the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Executive Vice President) of the University have been threatened and warned not to pursue the murder case. Furthermore, the Bangladesh government reportedly reassigned the Investigating Police Officer.

Just earlier this month, when the Bengal Studies Conference (BSC) was scheduled to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for the first time in its 40 years of history, the participants received 'death threats' and were warned to stay away from participating in the conference. The BSC is a professional organization of Americans of Bengali origin. Many other Americans those who have interest in Bengali culture, heritage, history, economy, social and political studies also belong to this organization.

The Center for Research and Information (CRI), an institute that collects information on socioeconomic issues and publishes research documents/books has been closed down by the Government. The Bangladesh Government seized its research materials, documents, database and computers. Although the highest Court in Bangladesh has accepted a motion on behalf of the CRI to reopen the center, the judges are yet to make a decision on the motion. A few judges have expressed that they are 'troubled' [bivrotho]. As a result, CRI is now virtually closed for the unforeseeable future.

Background

Under the policy of appeasement, this is what the Nazis did in Germany before and during World War II and so did the totalitarian governments including that of Saddam Hussein of Iraq and Mollah Omar in Afghanistan. The Talibans proudly destroyed the century-old Buddhists heritage and forbidden its girls to attend schools or sports.

The grim memory of the genocide committed by occupying Pakistani soldiers and their local collaborators in 1971 still horrifies many in Bangladesh. Like the Nazi Germany, the genocide of Bengalis was preceded by repeated attacks against their cultural heritage. The attacks against the Bangla language, its culture including killings of Bengali intellectuals in 1971, were all designed to substitute a thousand-year old rich and secular Bengali culture with certain fundamentalist principles. Fortunately, the creation of an independent Bangladesh has forever changed the dynamics of that plan. On the other hand, members and supporters of fundamentalist groups that opposed the creation of secular Bangladesh are becoming more and more politically active; and in recent years have started once again launching violent attacks against intellectuals including, poets, writers, newspaper columnist, and educators. They also destroyed and attacked many religious institutions; churches, pagodas, mandirs, temples and Ahmedia mosques belonging to different beliefs and faith. In addition, Bangladeshi girls and women have forcibly been denied participating in out door games including Olympic swimming and football competitions.

In fact, once again security of life, liberty, research, scholarship and freedom of choice and opinion is at stake in Bangladesh. Like 1971, target killing is being used by the Islamic fundamentalist as a strategy to silence intellectual freedom and scholarship.

Following Dr. Zbigniew Brzesinski or Nobel Laureates Milton Freidman, Hans Bethe, Insidor Rabi, Harold Urey, or Eugene Wigner, we would like to state that 'although our governments may remain silent, we, as scholars and teachers, cannot. It remains our duty to the fallen colleagues to express our sense of horror and we call upon our respective governments and lawmakers to express their horror at this systematic extermination of scholars.

The Bangladesh Bar Council Human Rights Cell reports that there had been a total of 45,396 cases of human rights violations in Bangladesh in 2004 [which is double of 2003] including 5,113 murders, 814 rapes and 348 extra-judicial deaths under security/police custody.

The Resolution

On January 17, 2005, a meeting of concerned people of Bangladeshi origin was held at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A. The meeting adopted the following resolutions:

(1) We call upon our respective governments and lawmakers to express their horror at this systematic killing of scholars.

(2) We urge the Bangladesh government to take necessary measures to punish the culprits and their associates. The government should also take effective steps to stop any further target killing and desecration of religious and social heritage.

(3) We request the U. S. and other governments and their lawmakers as well as respective international organizations to take appropriate actions deemed necessary to stop such target killing and attacks.

[If you are outraged at such systematic killing and attacks, and destruction of heritage and freedom of choice, please put your signature, name, affiliation, city, state, country and send it to respective governments/ international organizations and to your public representative and local media to end such extermination. Thank you].


For further information on the rise of fundamentalism in Bangladesh, please visit the following links:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/23/magazine/23BANG.html?oref=login&oref=regi
http://www.asiapacificms.com/articles/bangladesh_terror/
http://www.sabrang.com/cc/archive/2004/sep04/cover.html
http://www.mukto-mona.com/new_site/mukto-mona/Articles/shahriar/islamization.htm
http://mukto-mona.com/Articles/saleem/secular_to_islamic.htm
http://www.mukto-mona.com/new_site/mukto-mona/Articles/shahriar/ahmadya.htm
http://www.saag.org/papers11/paper1058.html
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3864783.stm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3714550.stm

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