Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sitangshu Guha cry for religious freedom

photo: discussion forum organised by Bangladesh Association of New York. I was flanked by (from the right) Mohammed Ali Siddiqui, senior journalist, Dr Mohsin Ali, president Bangladesh Human Rights Watch, and Sitangshu Guha, leader of Gatak Dalal Nirmul Committee

It was snowing on Sunday morning. Braving bad weather the meeting organised by Bangladesh Association of New York was well attended.

The discussion forum attended by Bangladeshi-American were mostly dissidents, or critical of the government's policy.

The meeting was organised by my good journalist friend, a social justice activist Sitangshu Guha on 4 December 2005. This was my first interaction with Bangladeshi-American in New York.

ModerIn the discussion spoke mostly dealing on religious freedom, Muslim jihadi, Islamic militancy, my ordeal with the dreaded military intelligence (DGFI), press freedom and current political development in Bangladesh.

Sitangshu left Bangladesh several years ago due to increasing economic and social insecurity as religous minority.

I met him after ages at a seminar on religious freedom in Bangladesh at Concordia University, Montreal last winter.

He is an activist on religious freedom with focus on persecution of Hindus, Ahmadiyyas Muslims, Christians & Buddhists in Bangladesh.

He systematically lobbies with US & European policymakers, human rights networks, media and civil societies to pressure on Bangladesh Islamic nationalists chauvinist government in a bid to halt persecution of religious and ethnic national minorities.

Alas he will never be able to return to Bangladesh for "fear of persecution" by security agencies. He is an outspoken activist about religious freedom in Bangladesh, now he is speaking against rising Islamic radicalism, which threatnes the basic principles of secularism and democracy.

I often wonder why the rights activists does not demand to lift impunity of the perpetrators engaged in crime against humanity. Some of the perpetrators who served the Bangladesh army and law enforcing agencies are presently immigrants in USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

Canada has recently began investigating immigrants and refugee claimants under "War Crimes & Crime Against Humanity, 2000" [see separate blog]

I am myself, a journalist and researcher on social conflicts and a witness to persecution & ethnic cleansing of ethnic hill people in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in south-east Bangladesh during 1980-1991 by the Bangladesh anti-insurgency troops.

My articles were published on systematic persecution, genocide, and sexual abuse of women. In reality the military unleashed a reign of terror in CHT for two decades and committed series of crime against humanity.

That is a different issue, I will discuss that in a separate forum. Meanwhile I will begin a semi-official visit to New York and Washington from 3 December for 4-6 weeks.

Sitangshu Guha

For further studies on persecution of religious & ethnic minorities please visit: http://www.hrcbm.org/ http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGASA130062001 http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGASA130192004 http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/ENGASA130032004

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