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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 290
October 06, 2012

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Minority communities must be protected and arsonists face justice

Photo: Amnesty International

The perpetrators of arson attacks on temples and Buddhist villages in the south of Bangladesh must be brought to justice and steps taken to ensure ethnic minorities are protected, Amnesty International said. More than 20 Buddhist temples and monasteries and at least one Hindu temple, along with scores of homes and shops, were set on fire during attacks in southern cities of Cox's Bazar and Chittagong over the last week and on September1 after thousands of people protested against the posting of an allegedly derogatory image of the Quran on social network site Facebook.

“The scale and ferocity of these appalling attacks on ethnic communities have shocked Muslims and non-Muslims alike and the entire civil society in the country. The Bangladeshi authorities must ensure this does not happen again,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International's Bangladesh researcher. “Amnesty International calls on the leaders of all political parties to condemn publicly the violence against minorities and urge their members not take part in such acts.”

“Reports that police failed to ensure the protection of minority communities - even though they had received news about imminent attacks are disturbing, and must be investigated.”

The Deputy Inspector General of Police for Chittagong told Amnesty International on September 2 an investigation had been launched into allegations that the officer in charge of Ramu police station in Cox's Bazar had neglected his duty to ensure the safety of minority communities. He also said that up to 300 people had been arrested.

“The terms of reference for the investigation, called for by the Home Minister, must be made public and strong measures must be put in place to protect Buddhist, Hindu and all other witnesses who give evidence,” Faiz said.

“Those identified as responsible for the attack should be brought to justice in adherence to international fair trial standards and all people affected by the violence must be provided with shelter, and assistance to rebuild their homes and places of worship.” The attacks are believed to be the first to have taken place on such a large scale against minority places of worship in Bangladesh.


Source: Amnesty International(http://www.amnesty.org/en/news) .

Talk of the world

Eshita Tasmin

Recently in YouTube short clips of a film “innocence of Muslims” have been uploaded by the film maker,Nakoula Basseley Nakoula who is Coptic Christian which has just created a chaos all over the world. Because this is just a film which will surely hurt the sentiment of any Muslim if he/she watches even just 1 minute of this film. YouTube has restricted access to the film “innocence of Muslims” in Libya and Egypt, after the attack on the United States consulate in Benghazi. In Pakistan the government has declared a national holiday in honor of prophet and call for peaceful protest against the film and most importantly they have closed the website (YouTube) in Pakistan. But Bangladesh has been able to avoid all kinds of violent activities. At first our honorable Prime Minister Seikh Hasina criticized the video orally a nd asked BTRC to write a letter to Google for the purpose of withdrawing the video from YouTube. But no response from Google was found and therefore BTRC had to close the website (YouTube). Closing the website was the only option left for us. Because YouTube doesn't have any policy to withdraw any video uploaded except pornography. But if we look in our domestic law there is a very acceptable provision provided to handle this kind of situation. Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology Act, 2006 says-“ whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in electronic form any material which is obscene or its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons and which may harm the religious sentiment of the religious community and who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear matter contained or embodied in it, then the work of that person shall be considered as a crime”.

You tube is an international website which cannot be fetched under the cyber law provisions of Bangladesh. Perhaps the government has taken the right decision to close the website because certainly it could have created an unwanted situation which is just not expected. And this kind of initiative was most gentle, peaceful and silent protest. Hopefully BTRC will be playing this kind of perfect and appropriate role when the situation demands. Cutting the head while headache is not a good solution but sometimes just no other way remains left.


The wrier is a Lecturer, Department of law, Uttara University.



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