Release Dr. Bhowmick-Teachers-Students

The plight of Bangladesh religious and ethnic minorities and a permanent solution to their problem January 2008 The Honorable Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed Chief Advisor to the Caretaker Government of The Peoples republic of Bangladesh Dhaka, Bangladesh. Esteemed Chief Adviser: The point of this memorandum is to urge you to eliminate all the instruments and practices of minority persecution that remain in force in Bangladesh, thus paving the way for a permanent solution to the threat of total elimination facing the country's 25 million religious and ethnic minorities. Your government has taken a series of unprecedented bold steps, which has reversed the dangerous course the country had taken; and, this, in turn, has not only earned you international acclaim but also restored the civilized world confidence in our country - - Bangladesh. The signature achievement of your government has undoubtedly been prosecution of the criminals/corrupt politicians and meting out the justice they deserve. This will certainly act as a deterrent in the future. The minorities of Bangladesh expect you to deal with those who ordered and or perpetrated such heinous crimes as arson, rape, massacres, and murders against the country's religious and ethnic minorities exactly the same way, so it will act as a deterrent against targeted hate crime/crime against them. As you know, ever since the minorities were robbed of their status of first rate citizens of the country through the passage of the 5th and 8th Amendments, while the state itself has discriminated and persecuted them, the cadres of the political parties that are actively engaged in transforming the once secular Bangladesh into a theocratic state, have conducted atrocities against them forcing millions of them to leave the country. For obvious reasons, no political party will ever take any meaningful measures to eliminate the instruments of discrimination and persecution of the minorities. Your government, which, unlike elected governments, does not need to appease anyone, is uniquely positioned to resolve almost all the problems facing the country's minorities. Under your leadership, Bangladesh is clearly headed toward becoming the pluralistic secular democratic society that it become in 1971 through the sacrifice of three million lives, dignity of 250, 000 women and an exodus of 10 million people in the face of atrocities. In such societies, minority empowerment through affirmative action is the norm. We are a civilized nation, and we urge you to do the same for the minorities Bangladesh, while you are in power. We believe that, by taking the following steps, all of which can easily be done through ordinance, you can enable the minorities of the country live there in their ancestral homeland with human dignity and equal rights: i. Instituting an independent commission like the Sachar Commission to produce a report about the socio-economic status of the minorities as well as a White Paper about the systematic crimes that have been committed against them for decades, and then prosecuting and punishing those who ordered and/or perpetrated (as is done under Hate Crime Law) those crimes (They could include the criminals who ordered and or conducted the Logang/Baniar Char massacre, or the Mahalchari/Luxmi Bazaar/Bhola/Dighinala pogroms, raped the minors like Purnima or Rita Das or murdered the popular minority community leader Upajila Chairman as Kalidas Baral of Chitalmari, Bagerhat); and, at the same time, giving the victims compensation and help them rehabilitate. ii. Repealing the Vested (Enemy) Property Act and unconditionally returning the seized 2.7 million plus acres of land to their rightful owners/heirs or to the Minority Foundations that your government is being requested to create). iii. Empowering the religious and ethnic minorities by hiring them in great numbers (in the spirit of Affirmative Action) in government, semi-government, autonomous bodies including the Foreign Ministry, Home Ministry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, armed forces, police administration, PSC, academic administration, etc. iii. Rescinding the BNP-Jamaat government's Order of Relocation of the Ramna Kali Temple and Ma Anandamayee's Ashram from its historical site of centuries. iv. Implementation of the Chittagong Hill tracts Peace Accord of 1997 fully. v. Please create separate foundations for the Hindus, Buddhists, Christian Communities following the model of the existing Islamic Foundation. vi. Creation of a Minority Council. vii. Ensuring that there is adequate minority representation in the Human Rights Commission, Constitutional Council, and National Security Council that are being formed. viii. Initiation of the process of repealing the notorious 5th and 8th amendments that were deliberately enacted to effectively force the minorities to leave the country. ix. Ensuring that every voting age member of the minority communities is included in the voter list, and specific measures taken to protect them against pre/post-election violence. We also urge you to release Prof. Dr. Nim Bhowmick along with all other arrested teachers and students of Dhaka and Rajshahi University immediately. We fervently hope that you will take necessary measures to make the minorities of Bangladesh feel that they are also citizens of the country and thus enable them to live in their ancestral homeland with human dignity and enjoying the basic human rights that all humans enjoy in civilized nations. Thank you for your anticipated action to eliminate the instruments of discriminations and persecution of minorities that remain in force at the state level and create set of bulwarks to combat those evil practices. Sincerely, Members of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council around the globe Contact: Info@bhbcuc-usa.org; www.bhbcuc-usa.org (In Sept 2007 we gave almost the same memorandum to the Chief Advisor)

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