Bangladeshi Hindus have held a peaceful protest in front of the White House to urge outgoing US President Barack Obama to help protect and bring an end to the “persecution” of religious minorities in the Muslim-majority country.
“We believe you are a person of great sensitivity and resolve, and would find the situation in Bangladesh with respect to the minority communities deplorable. We would like to request you, if it is possible, to convey our anxiety regarding Bangladesh to the next administration,” said a memorandum submitted by protesters to Obama on Sunday.
Organised by Hindu Buddhist Christians Unity Council, USA dozens of protesters conveyed their deep concern regarding the allegedly passive role of the Bangladeshi government in coming to the rescue of the affected or in taking legal measures against the perpetrators.
“The destruction of Hindu households and temples, the usurping of Hindu lands and occasional killing and rape have become a norm in the present day Bangladesh. In fact, in recent weeks, the news of two more premeditated attacks were documented during which the party in power was complicit, and no actions were taken by the authorities to assist or support the victims and their families,” the memorandum said.
Last month, the same organisation had held a similar demonstration in front of the Trump Towers in New York.
“President-elect Donald Trump had attended a charity event before the election to raise funds for the terrorism. Bangladeshi Hindus who are victims of terrorism. I am sure, he would take up our cause too,” said protester Sitangshu Guha.
Protecting Bangladesh from falling into the lap of ISIS is the “most pressing priorities”, said Jay Kansara of the Hindu American Foundation.
“Because if Bengal falls to extremism, then there would be no recourse to that,” he said in his brief address to the protesters, which included women and children.
The memorandum alleged that the present Bangladeshi government occasionally spouted words of secularism, but in reality was following a path of ethnic cleansing that was instituted by Pakistan almost seventy years ago.
“We would like to appeal to you to impress upon the Bangladesh government to consider the following pathways in order to end the minority cleansing and persecution in Bangladesh,” the memorandum said.
“Bangladesh was liberated from Pakistan with the great hope that there would be no communal feeing or communal force, but in the last seven years we see as many as 273 cases have been filed against the attack on minorities in Bangladesh,” said Nabendu Bikash Dutta, president Hindu Buddhist Christians Unity Council, USA.
Bangladesh has been reeling under a wave of murders of secular, liberal activists and religious minorities.
Victims of the attacks by suspected Islamists have included secular bloggers, gay rights activists and followers of minority religions including Hindus, Christians and Muslim Sufis and Shiites.
In July, a Bangladeshi cafe was attacked by terrorists, killing 22 people including an Indian girl.