Eminent activists and academics from across South Asia, have expressed solidarity with the victims of the recent anti-minority violence in Bangladesh that began during Durga Puja. They have called attacks on minorities “a sign of injustice and a matter of shame for any society” that bring a bad name to the Government.
Noting that even as the Government of Bangladesh is working to control communalism in the country, this “outbreak of mayhem and violence against the minorities” seems to be a setback to the government’s efforts. They stated that fanatic elements “are always on the prowl to damage social fabric and we have to be on constant vigil against them.” The group has urged the Government of Bangladesh to immediately “reconstruct and repair all places of worship, houses and any other assets that are damaged and provide generous compensation to those injured and to the families of all those killed and government jobs to the next of kin.”
Violence had spread after allegations of desecration of the Holy Quran after it was discovered that someone had placed a copy of it at the feet of an idol of a Hindu deity in a puja pandal. While the alleged desecration took place in one location, incidents of violence and vandalism were reported from different parts of the country.
The statement was signed by activists and academics including,
- Syeda Hameed, Shabana Azmi, Tapan Bose, P.V. Rajagopal, Fr, Cedric Prakash, Purushottam Aggarwal, Rajeev Bhargava, Tani Bhargava, and Mazher Hussain from India;
- Pervez Hoodbhoy, Karamat Ali, Sheema Kermani, Peter Jacob, Mohammed Tahseen, Mehnaz Rehman, Comrade Nasir Mansoor, from Pakistan;
- Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik, Shahriar Kabir, Monoranjan Ghosal from Bangladesh;
- Nalini Ratnarajah, Mohammed Mahuruf from Sri Lanka;
- Fidel Rehmati, Sima Samar from Afghanistan and Mohammed Latheef from Maldives.
They stated that such hate and violence, especially against minorities is being noted in different countries of South Asia, and thus “calls for immediate attention and decisive actions by all the governments of the region to ensure amity, peace and pave the way for development and prosperity of the people.”
The complete statement may be read here:
As South Asians, we are deeply distressed and saddened by the spate of violence and killings in Bangladesh on the occasion of Durga Puja and Vijayadashmi.
Attacks on minorities are a sign of injustice and a matter of shame for any society and bring a bad name to the Government.
Our heartfelt empathy and solidarity with all those killed, injured and affected in any way by this inhuman and mindless violence.
Even as we were feeling some relief at the Government of Bangladesh reigning in fanatic groups and controlling communalism in the country, the current outbreak of mayhem and violence against the minorities comes as a big shock, and seems a setback to the Government of Bangladesh in its efforts to curb communalism and promote communal amity and peaceful coexistence..
This also shows that fanatic elements bent on spreading hate and violence in any society are always on the prowl to damage social fabric and we have to be on constant vigil against them.
In the time of social media, it is easy to identify, try and punish all those who are involved in the recent violence. We understand that the Government of Bangladesh has started action against those involved and we welcome it and urge that quick and exemplary punishment should be given to deter others and ensure such obnoxious incidences are not repeated again.
Finally we urge the Government of Bangladesh to immediately reconstruct and repair all places of worship, houses and any other assets that are damaged and provide generous compensation to those injured and to the families of all those killed and government jobs to the next of kin.
We find that divisive forces in different countries of South Asia are spreading hate and violence, especially against minorities. This is a matter of grave concern and calls for immediate attention and decisive actions by all the governments of the region to ensure amity, peace and pave way for development and prosperity of the people.
All countries of the region are already lagging behind on all development indicators and any further divisions in society and violence can push our people into more poverty and greater misery.
We urge all South Asians to speak out against any violence in any form and prevail upon their governments to secure peace and ensure prosperity of the people.
Syeda Hameed- Khwaja Ahmed Abbas Trust
Shabana Azmi- Film Actor- Activist
Tapan Bose- Peace Activist
P.V. Rajagopal- Sarvodaya Samaj
Fr, Cedric Prakash- Peace Activist
Purushottam Aggarwal- Writer and Peace Activist
Rajeev Bhargava- Academic
Tani Bhargava – Academic
Mazher Hussain- COVA Peace Network
Pervez Hoodbhoy- Physicist – Activist
Karamat Ali- PILER
Sheema Kermani- Tehrik- e- Niswan
Peter Jacob- Peoples Commission for Minority Rights
Mohammed Tahseen- SAP
Mehnaz Rehman – Aurat Foundation
Comrade Nasir Mansoor, National Trade Union Federation ( NTUF)
Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik-
Shahriar Kabir- Forum for Secular Bangladesh
Monoranjan Ghosal- Interreligious Harmony Society
Nalini Ratnarajah- Women Development Innovators
Mohammed Mahuruf- PEaCE
Sima Samar- Former Minister for Womens’ Affairs
Fidel Rehmati- Academic
Mohammed Latheef – Peace Activist