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6 congressmen’s letter to Biden about state of Bangladesh’s minorities

Community leaders call it a ‘false projection’

Published : 04 Jun 2023 10:19 PM

Several noted minority community leaders, academics and anti-war crimes campaigners have pulled up six US congressmen for what they called “absolutely false projection” of the state of minorities in Bangladesh in a letter to President Biden, asking to take “appropriate measures” for banning Bangladeshi law enforcement and military personnel from participating in UN peacekeeping missions.

They called it a “threat to the existing communal harmony in Bangladesh.”

Asked about the authenticity of the claim in the letter that “Since Sheikh Hasina's rise to power, the Hindu population has been halved,” Advocate Rana Dasgupta, leader of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian OikyaParishad, outright rejected it.

“I will say this claim is a travesty of truth,” he said.

Referring to a number of surveys, he added, “Between 1947 and 1971, under Pakistani rule, a whopping 9.7% of the population declined.”

Since Bangladesh became independent, over the last five decades, Hindu population decreased around 10 percent. This happened considerably when the country was ruled by BNP and Jamaat, he said.

In response to such assertions in the letter from the US congressmen, Dasgupta said, “As the national election is approaching, a certain group has become very active.”

Referring to earlier lobbying efforts by Jamaat, a political party which has proven record of collaborating with the Pakistani Military junta in 1971 in the acts of genocide, abduction, loot, arson, and rape, Dasgupta, also a prosecutor of the International Crimes Tribunal, said: “With the singular objective to stop the war crimes trial and enjoy the culture of impunity, Jamaat spent money and struck an agreement with lobbyist groups overseas to get the backing of foreign governments in their favour.”

“On the international stage, a systematic smear campaign has been carried out against the trial process,” he said.

The letter from the six congressmen also claims “Sheikh Hasina’s government also has persecuted Bangladesh’s minority Christian population – burning and looting places of worship, jailing pastors, and breaking up families when religious conversion occurs.” Leaders of the community including NirmalRozario, president of Bangladesh Christian Association, rejected this claim as well.

“It is an outright lie. Rather, the reality is that with the return of AL, our community has been living in harmony – with assistance from the prime minister. The government’s development schemes connect the minorities as well,” he said.

Eminent researcher and freedom fighter Ajoy Das Gupta, said, “A number of BNP leaders, including RumeenFarhana, went vocal on social media, justifying the letter.”

“BNP and Jamaat hold a sordid record of attacking minorities,” he added.

Calling such assertions “biased, a travesty of justice, and highly motivated,” the minority community leaders also called into question why the US congressmen did not bother to mention the “BNP-Jamaat sponsored hate campaign against minorities”, including a series of tweets posted from the verified account of Basherkella – known as a “Jamaat mouthpiece” – calling for “boycotting” the Ahmadiyya community.