Ahmadiyya houses marked before attacks: rights groups

Staff Correspondent | Published: 00:26, Mar 14,2023


Transparency International Bangladesh executive director Iftekharuzzaman addresses a press conference on the recent attack on Ahmadiyya community at Panchagarh organised by Human Rights Forum Bangladesh at the National Press Club on Monday. — New Age photo

The houses belonging to the Ahmadiyya community were marked with flags prior to attacks on them, according to human rights activists that visited Panchagarh after attack and came up with the findings.

They said that the police and local administration utterly failed to prevent the ‘preplanned’ series of attacks on the minority group.

Human Rights Forum Bangladesh shared the findings with media at a press conference at the National Press Club on Monday.

On March 3, two people were killed, and dozens, including police personnel, were injured while scores of houses were torched and vandalised as a group of Islamists clashed with law enforcers in the district over an annual congregation of the Ahmadiyya community.

So far, 11,000 people, mostly unnamed, have been accused in 23 cases filed over attacks as the police rounded up over 190 people.

A team of rights watchdog Ain o Salish Kendra visited the affected areas and talked with the Ahmadiyya community leaders and women at their headquarters.

The team found that houses of Ahmadiyya community were marked with red and white flags and later, those were attacked and robbed, and items carried away in pickup vans before arson attack and vandalism.

Even women had participated in the attacks, said Sara Hossain, honorary executive director of the BLAST, sharing their findings of the field visit.

She stated that hate and provocative statements and messages had been circulating online before the attacks and the police did not take any concrete steps to identify the propagandists.

The government often uses the Digital Security Act to repress journalists, voices of dissident, but there have rarely been any such incident against which law has been used to check the spread of false and fake information against minority groups, said Sara.

TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said that the attacks were carried out for political and administration patronage.

‘Such attacks were feared earlier and the Ahmadiyya community leaders informed police and local administration about it, but there were no preventive measures,’ he added.

Rights activist Nur Khan said that tube-wells in Ahmadiyya inhabited areas were damaged to make sure that there could not be any effort to douse flames after arson attack.

He added that the law enforcers and administration should have prevented the attacks, but instead they stopped Ahmadiyya Jalsha.

The speakers said that there had been attacks on the Ahmadiyya community over the years and justice was never served in any such incidents.

Had there been any justice done, such attacks would not have been repeated, they added.

Manusher Jonno Foundation executive director Shaheen Anam, Step Toward executive director Ranjan Karmakar, among others, shared their views at the programme.

The rights activists, however, could not clarify whether there was any political instigation in the attacks and any politically motivated arrests carried out by the police.

source https://www.newagebd.net/article/196774/ahmadiyya-houses-marked-before-attacks-rights-groups

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