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WorldAsiaIslamist BNP wages war against Bangladesh Army

Islamist BNP wages war against Bangladesh Army

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which is known for its notoriety of continuing terrorist activities and arson attacks thus murdering dozens of innocent civilians in Bangladesh and its nefarious role in persecuting religious minorities, including Hindus  has been spending millions of dollars towards lobbyist activities in the United States with the ulterior agenda of getting leaders of ruling Awami League and members of Bangladesh Armed Forces and law enforcement and intelligence agencies under US sanctions have recently succeeded in sending a letter which is signed by six Republican congressmen seeking “stricter individual sanctions, banning Bangladesh law enforcement and military personnel from participating in UN peacekeeping missions”.

On May 17, 2023, six Republican congressmen namely Bob Good (VA-05), Scott Perry (PA-10), Barry Moore (AL-02), Tim Burchett (TN-02), Warren Davidson (OH-08), and Keith Self (TX-03) sent a letter to President Joe Biden seeking, “stricter individual sanctions, banning Bangladesh law enforcement and military personnel from participating in UN peacekeeping missions”.

They also said: “Since Sheikh Hasina’s rise to power, the Hindu population has been halved. Looting and burning of households, destruction of temples and religious idols, murder, rape, and forced religious conversion are causing Hindus to flee Bangladesh. 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 a religious conversion occurs”.

But, in reality, the actual situation is just the opposite, where Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ideological partner Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) are involved in continuous cruelty on religious minorities, including Hindus.

Since 2009, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) along with its extremist allies Jamaat-e-Islami and its student wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir (ICS), have developed a brand of politics characterized predominantly by extremely violent street protests targeting civilians and law enforcement officials, intermittent and targeted pogroms on religious minorities and assassination of political opponents, often using violent extremist organizations like Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Harkat Ul Jihad. Since 2013, a newer dimension to the violence came in the form of petrol bombs and Molotov cocktail attacks on passengers in public transport. This document summarizes the disturbing scenario BNP-Jamaat had been creating since 2001.

The attacks against Hindus by Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat E Islami following October 2001 elections have been widely reported and documented. Amnesty International in its report said:

The wave of attacks against the Hindu community in Bangladesh began before the general elections of October 1 2001 when Hindus were reportedly threatened by members of the BNP-led alliance not to vote, since it was perceived their vote would be cast for the Awami League. The backlash after the elections was systematic and severe. Reports indicate that the worst affected areas have been in Barisal, Bhola, parts of Pirojpur, Khulna, Satkhira, Gopalganj, Bagerhat, Jessore, Commilla and Norsingdi. Attackers have reportedly entered Hindu homes, beaten members of the family, looted their property and in some cases, raped Hindu women.

During this carnage, rape was used as a principal means of violence and intimidation. Human rights organizations in Bangladesh believe over 100 women may have been subjected to rape. Reports persistently allege that the perpetrators have been mainly members of the BNP or its coalition partner Jamaat-e-Islami. A number of Hindu girls were reportedly abducted. It is not known whether or not they have returned to their families. Hundreds of Hindu families have fled across the border into India because they have been attacked or threatened (AFP, October 29, 2001). They either ended up in camps or went to their distant relatives. Hindus interviewed by journalists have said they have been targeted because they were thought to have been supporters of the defeated Awami League. Hindu places of worship were also attacked during this time.

According to a report of the Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada, incidents of violence against Hindus in Bangladesh following the October 1, 2001 election were widely reported in several sources such as BBC (October 10, 2001), Gulf News (February 12 2002), Press Trust of India (October 20, 2001), Pax Christi (26 Nov. 2001) etc. According to the report , “…these incidents include rape, torture, murder and looting as well as setting fire to Hindu properties. Hundreds of Hindus have reportedly fled the violence, crossing the border into India. The Fair Election Monitoring Alliance (FEMA) reported that most of the violence was committed by BNP activists… The attacks against Hindus have occurred in numerous districts across Bangladesh”.

The post-2001 elections attacks on minorities by BNP-Jamaat nexus was also reported in the US Department of State’s Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report 2005. The USCIRF report states :

“Reports of BNP harassment of Hindus, who traditionally vote for the AL (Awami League), preceded and followed the 2001 election. Reported incidents included killings, rape, looting, and torture… Since the 2001 elections, religious minorities reportedly have continued to be targeted for attacks, which has led to the requirement for guards to be present at church and temple ceremonies. Reportedly, incidents include killings, rape, torture, attacks on places of worship, destruction of homes, forced evictions, and desecration of items of worship. These claims continued during the period covered by this report”.

According to an investigation of a Judicial Commission in Bangladesh, formed at the behest of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, it was found that 26,352 leaders and supporters of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat E Islami were involved in the aforementioned crimes. This included 26 Ministers and lawmakers of the BNP-Jamaat Alliance Government. The accused 6 ministers are Ruhul Quddus Talukder Dulu, Abdus Salam Pintu, Motiur Rahaman Nizami, Altaf Hossain Choudhury, Tariqul Islam and Hafizuddin. Among them, Altaf Hossain Choudhury was the then-home minister.

Following the verdict against Jamaat-e-Islami leader and a notorious war criminal Delwar Hussain Sayedee, Hindus faced physical violence  and property damage, loot and arson.

The BNP-Jamaat nexus let loose a reign of terror to resist the January 5 election of 2014. They vandalized and torched hundreds of vehicles. As many as 200 people, including 20 law enforcers, were killed by their petrol bombs, handmade bombs and other sorts of violence. They felled thousands of roadside trees. They torched small shops, government and private establishments, and power plants. The goons of BNP-Jamaat vandalized mosques, temples, pagodas and churches, and torched hundreds of copies of the holy Quran. On the day of the election, they killed 26 people, including a presiding officer and torched 582 schools across the country that were serving as voting centers. Braving all obstacles, people exercised their voting rights and helped continue the democratic process.

From January 4, 2015 onward, BNP-Jamaat unleashed another reign of terror in the guise of marking one year of the January 5, 2014 election. They killed 231 people (mostly through arson and petrol bomb attacks) and injured (mostly through burning) 1,180 others. Arson attacks were conducted to burn 2,903 cars, 18 rail carriages and 8 passenger water vessels. Through targeted attacks, 70 government offices were vandalized and or destroyed and 6 land offices were burnt.

According to police reports submitted to the High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, around 160 incidents of attacks  and atrocities on Hindus took place in 21 districts after the January 5 parliamentary polls by BNP-Jamaat. Property worth around TK 4 million was damaged in 70 of those attacks and local BNP-Jamaat activists were responsible for most of the occurrences. The atrocities include injuring Hindu people, damaging their houses, temples and business establishments and setting them on fire, and looting valuables.

On January 15, 2014, the High Court Division issued a suo-moto rule, pursuant to which officials of different police ranges submitted the reports to the court through the Office of the Attorney General. Hindus in Dinajpur, Mymensingh, Netrakona, Sherpur, Tangail, Comilla, Chandpur, Bagerhat, Jessore, Narail, Rajshahi, Naogaon, Natore, Joypurhat, Barisal, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Rangpur, Gaibandha Nilphamari and Thakurgaon districts came under the attacks.

BNP, a terrorist organization

The fact that BNP’s violent activities have passed the threshold of political activism into terrorist activities has been established in a foreign court too. The Canadian Federal Court in Ottawa, Ontario in Gazi v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) (2017 FC 94) held that BNP is indeed a terrorist organization. The court took into account that BNP is a party that uses armed struggle or violence to reach political objectives, uses ‘ammunitions and arms’ like hand bombs, pistols, and big swords like in a war and also attacks the leading government’s people at the time of strike or precession. It also noted that BNP “…uses sticks to hit people and shoot pistols at people and throw hand bombs. They burn the stores”.

The court stated:

‘The hartals [general strike] employed by the BNP have significant economic impact on Bangladesh’s economy and have resulted in both substantial damage to property and both death and serious bodily harm caused by BNP activists and members as well as disruptions in service.’ and ‘BNP’s continued reliance on hartals as a tool to coerce the government by creating significant economic disruption as well as the incidences of violence that resulted from the implementation of the hartals caused by BNP members are sufficient to find that the BNP constituted terrorist acts’.

In reaching the conclusion that it is indeed reasonable to believe that the BNP was, is, or will be engaged in terrorism, the court looked at several reports from such sources as BBC, AFP, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, Foreign Policy Magazine, Economist, the South Asian Terrorism Portal and the Human Rights Watch which showed the involvement of BNP, especially in recent years, in such tactics as forcibly enforcing strikes, costing a terrible economic price for the strikes, mounting firebomb attacks, causing deaths from arson attacks on buses, killing of civilians during the strikes, implementing targeted attacks on villages, attacking religious minorities, attacking polling stations, burning down schools, using street children to throw petrol bombs and creating and detonating explosives to press home their demands.

Justice Brown concluded:

“The hartals employed by the BNP have significant economic impact on Bangladesh’s economy and have resulted in both substantial damage to property and both death and serious bodily harm caused by BNP activists and members as well as disruptions in services”.

He added that these tactics rise above simple peaceful protest or advocacy. He also noted that he reasonably believes that BNP implicitly condoned  the use of violence, as they never took a strong stance against them, only meekly condemning some incidents after they had taken place.

Within a few months of the Gazi decision, another Canadian Federal described BNP again as a terror organization as it denied asylum prayer of a BNP leader for the party’s role in triggering violence and vandalism to enforce a protracted nationwide hartal in Bangladesh. Federal Court Judge Justice Fothergill made the remark and dismissed the asylum petition of the BNP activist for judicial review of the immigration authorities’ decision on May 12. The court upheld the previous Canadian immigration authority decision saying the petitioner is a member of such a political party that engages, has engaged, or will engage in acts of terrorism. The judge said he did not find any wrong in the immigration authority’s decision as BNP was well aware of the impact of the “hartal” as they enforced it with an intention.

The judge said the BNP’s consistent use of hartals and their resulting incidences of violence led the immigration officer in reaching a logical conclusion that BNP is a terror organization. Justice Fothergill not only dismissed the judicial review plea  but also binned SA’s petition seeking to appeal against the verdict to a higher court.

Here are only few links to the media reports on Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s cruelty on Hindus in the country:

On December 5, 2001, Amnesty International said : “Before the general election in October, the Hindu community was targeted, reportedly by supporters of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) for their perceived support for the rival Awami League. The backlash after the elections was systematic and severe. Bangladeshi press has reported that attackers have entered Hindu homes, beaten family members and looted their property”.

January 6, 2014: BNP-Jamaat activists vandalized and looted 130 houses and torched 10 others at a Hindu village in Abhaynagar upazila  of Jessore tonight hours after the end of voting in 10th parliamentary polls.

January 9, 2014: Bangladesh Nationalist Party vandalizes a Hindu temple in Bangladesh.

January 20, 2014: Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami behind the Maloparha attack on Hindus .

On May 2, 2016, CNN in a report said : “Police in Bangladesh say they have detained three people in relation to the killing of a Hindu tailor, who was hacked to death in the central Bangladeshi district of Tangail. Those detained for questioning include two party members, one from the opposition BNP party and a local leader of the Jamaat e Islami Islamist party”.

November 16, 2016: Police arrested a local leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in a case filed over the arson attacks on the Hindu community at Nasirnagar upazila in Brahmanbaria.

February 5, 2018: Local BNP leader Masud Rana has confessed to leading arson attacks on Hindu homes  in Rangpur’s Thakurpara over an alleged blasphemous Facebook post.

April 25, 2018: “Bangladeshi Islamists have done it again, but this time they pulled the feat in London. They insulted the Hindus  by using holy Hindu chants in a derogatory manner while protesting in front of the Central Hall in Westminster during a public meeting on Saturday 21st April 2018 which had the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, in attendance. The public meeting was organized to celebrate Bangladesh’s advancement from a Least Developed Country (LDC) to a Developing Country but the Islamists with their ties with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and far-right Jamaat-i-Islami Party (JI) descended on the venue and started using religious chants ‘Hare Krishna Hare Ram’ in a derogatory manner to mock the Hindu sentiments.

Canadian government in a report said : “Sources state that prior to the January 2014 elections, the BNP-led opposition called for “blockades” [abarudh, or traffic blockades] in October 2013 (Human Rights Watch Apr. 2014, 13; New Age 14 June 2015) and hartals [general strikes] in October 2013 (ibid). Sources further state that BNP and Jamaat-eIslami supporters allegedly used petrol bombs to enforce the blockades (Human Rights Watch 29 Jan. 2015; The Diplomat 22 May 2015). According to Human Rights Watch, BNP and Jamaat supporters were identified by their neighbours as being responsible for attacks on Hindu homes and businesses, including an attack on the village of Kornai in Diajpur district (Human Rights Watch Apr. 2014, 19, 20). Sources state that approximately 500 people were killed in political violence leading up to the January 2014 elections (AFP 5 Jan. 2015; Andersen 4 May 2015). According to Human Rights Watch, the January 2014 elections “were the most violent in the country’s history” (Apr. 2014, 1)”.

October 20, 2021, South China Morning Post in an opinion editorial said : “Awami League leaders say it is impossible to stave off the radical Islamist challenge by pandering to them at a time when their morale is boosted by the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan”.

These are only a small fragment of reports centering Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ideological partner Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI)’s notoriety on Hindus in Bangladesh. There are hundreds of reports centering BNP-Jamaat’s nefarious arson terrorism too. Are the US policymakers aware of the terrorist background of these Islamist parties? They definitely are not! In this case, why is a section of US policymakers and lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic Party surprisingly extending their support towards BNP and Jamaat, which are frantically trying to turn Bangladesh into another Afghanistan or worse?

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Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Editor (Security and Militancy) at The Eastern Herald. Multi-award winning journalist, writer, newspaper editor and counter-militancy and counter-terrorism expert. Hails from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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