Bangladesh government claims it has passed digital security act (DSA) to curtail racism, terrorism and terrorist propaganda. The reality is that it is used as a tool to curtail freedom of expression. However, DSA is applied against minority communities more often than actual criminals who are inciting violence in the country and using hatred to attack minority communities. In recent years, many Hindu men, women and girls have been arrested under the DSA on the false pretext that they have committed blasphemous acts through their facebook posts. These arrests are made without warrants or any forensic evidence. In many cases, DSA is used against minorities for two purposes: first to curtail them from posting reports of atrocities against the minorities in Bangladesh and secondly, to subjugate them under the false pretext of blasphemous acts.
Due to increased marginalization of minorities in Bangladesh, they are the easiest prey of the opportunists and islamists who target these people to hack their facebook accounts and post hate messages. These posts are often curated to subjugate the community or targeted people so as to indulge in violence against them. The ulterior motive of the islamists and the opportunities alike is to wipe out hindu and other minorities from the locality and pillage of their properties, businesses and women and girls. This evil design to evict minorities from Bangladesh is nothing new, the same was used by Pakistani governments and their cohorts and later by all major political parties and their allied Islamists organization. The difference now is the addition of social media which makes it easier to target people.
Surprisingly, rather than going after the perpetrators, the Bangladesh government is enforcing DSA against minority people who are innocent victims of the conspiracy.
Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM) verified many cases and found that arrests were made on the false pretext of blasphemous acts. These detentions were made without valid evidence. In many cases, Judges are biased as one lawyer puts it, “the judge throws off the files related to the cases where minority people are arrested under the false pretext of blasphemy”. He adds, “Judges feel uncomfortable to allow the hearing of the cases, it doesn’t matter if the arrests were made on false pretext”. The irony is that they care little if Hindu and other minority men and women stay behind bars for the rest of their lives. One of such case is “Roni Sattyarthi” who has been behind bars for two years due to lack of interest from judges to allow the proceedings.
Roni was an ardent member of Arya Samaj, a hindu social services group. He was targeted by Islamists who hacked his facebook account and posted insulting messages about Prophet Mohammed. In this case, Roni was an innocent victim yet, Police arrested him without forensic evidence of his wrong doing. Roni was the sole earner for his family and without his release the family is in dire situation.
However, Judges care little if minority men and women stay behind bars the rest of their lives without charges. That’s the reality of the judiciary system in Bangladesh which is often shrouded in controversy of political and religious prejudice.
- CARNEGIE, 2021. How Bangladesh’s Digital Security Act Is Creating a Culture of Fear. Available one at https://carnegieendowment.org/2021/12/09/how-bangladesh-s-digital-security-act-is-creating-culture-of-fear-pub-85951