Sunday, 7 January 2007

Fundamentalism in Bangladesh Must Be Prohibited, Secularism Must be Restored, and Neutrality of the Caretaker Government Must the Established.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Human Right Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM) is gravely concerned at recent development in Bangladesh politics, especially at the signing of “Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)” by the Awami League (AL) with the Bangladesh Khilafet-E-Maslish (BKM), an Islamic fundamentalist extremist party. The MOU, among other ideals, pledged proclamation of fatwa (Islamic edicts), introduction of Shaiah Laws, accreditation of Quami Madrasas, and in principle laid the foundation for establishing Bangladesh as a religious Islamic state in the future. We vehemently deplore and condemn this treacherous act and betrayal of values and ethics in politics. We are shocked to witness that thirty-five years after the liberation of Bangladesh from the occupation forces of the Pakistani army through a nine-month-long bloody war, the AL, which led the war of liberation, abandon the founding principles of the country that inspired the whole nation in 1971. We are shocked to see the demise of values and principles within AL leadership.

Nationalism, democracy, secularism and socialism were the four pillars of Bangladesh Constitution of 1972. Formation religious political parties were banned in Bangladesh. The rehabilitation of Islamic fundamentalist who opposed the war of liberation and collaborated with Pakistani occupation army started with the savage assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of the nation, on August 15, 1975, followed by a series of measures and killing of the four leaders of the war of liberation inside the Dhaka Central Jail. General Ziaur Rahman became the Chief of Army Staff on November 7, 1975 with Justice A.B.M. Sayem as the president. Starting with Ziaur Rahman the Governments of Bangladesh between August 1975 and 1990 were overtly or covertly military in nature, which consciously and step-by-stem amended the constitution, removed secularism from the constitution and established Islam as the state religion. The nation has experienced the perils of fundamentalism since 1975. Since 2001 General Election in Bangladesh, we warned Bangladesh government and the organizations and governments of the free world, from time to time, about the growth of fundamentalism and its impact on human rights in Bangladesh.

Since the transformation of Muslim Awami League to Awami League in the 1950’s it has been the fore-bearer of secularism. With the signing of MOU with Khilafet-E-Majlish and agreeing to concede rights of “fatwa” to these fundamental clerics, the AL not only marginalized the progressive elements within the party, it marginalized the whole progressive people of Bangladesh. It has destroyed all its achievements that it earned through struggles over fifty years of its history.

The AL leadership needs to realize that in a modern democracy there no place for fatwa and any kind of religious edits. It is vital that AL leadership strikes through this notorious MOU, come out clean, restore its damaged reputation and regain the confidence of the majority of the people who are still progressive and believe in the principles of the war of liberation.

The announcement of boycotting of the election by the grand alliance lead by the AL has worsened the political crisis in Bangladesh. We have observed that the caretaker government (CG) has failed to create the environment for holding a free and fair the election. The CG needs to listen to the voice of the people, create an atmosphere of fairness and trust, rise above partisan politics and bring all political parties to the level ground for holding a free and fair election.

Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities urges that:
· The Awami League must denounce the notorious MOU and practice secularism in their action and words.
· Any attempt by any political group to undermine laws of the land must be stopped.
· Fundamentalism must be prohibited.
· Secularism must be restored.
· Neutrality of the caretaker government must be established.
· Voter list must be corrected and published well ahead of the election.
· Minorities must be protected and participation in the election must be ensured.
· Atmosphere for free and fair election must be created so that people can exercise their constitutional franchise without any discrimination of caste, creed, faith and political affiliation.
· Basic human rights of all citizens enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are upheld.
· The civil society of Bangladesh must stand firm and united on the principles of the original constitution and resist all attempts by any forces to undermine the rights of the people.

Ajit K. Roy, Ph.D.
Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities

(Source:Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM)P.O. Box 5493, Santa Clara, CA 95056-5493Tel: (212) 592-3627, Fax: (212) 202-7683Email: info@hrcbm.orgWeb Page:

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