Pogrom against religious and ethnic minorities have become common in Bangladesh. Since the independence of Bangladesh, religious and ethnic minorities of Bangladesh are subject to state sponsored discrimination and brutal attacks. Islamists and political parties are equally responsible for instigate mass attacks against minorities in the country. Many organizations has raised concern about alarming trends of violence against religious and ethnic minorities in the country. The religious minorities which incudes Hindu, Christian, Buddhist and Ahmadiya communities are approximately 12% of the country population. Due to increase attack on religious and ethnic minorities in the country, population of minorities are in serious decline while Islamic religious extremism are gaining momentum in Bangladesh. Political parties and the state are also patronizing hard line Islamists to hold grip on power. Islamization of Bangladesh is now complete and intolerance has taken root in Bangladesh’s predominately Muslim society.
According to Freedom House, Bangladesh ranks 39 out of 100 for its democracy, politics and human rights issues. The report analyzed different variables that are associated with democracy, politics and human rights.
Some of the questions that are examined listed below along with findings.
- Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population?
The report concluded that religious and ethnic minorities face discrimination under law as well as harassment and violations of their rights in practice. Indigenous people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), religious minorities, and other ethnic groups remain subject to physical attacks, property destruction, land grabs by Bengali settlers, and occasional abuses by security forces.
Additionally, societal discrimination remains the norm against same sex relationship, and dozens of attacks on LGBT+ individuals are reported every year. A number of LGBT+ individuals remain in exile following the 2016 murder of Xulhaz Mannan, a prominent LGBT+ activist, by Islamist militants. Some legal recognition is available for transgender people, though in practice they face severe discrimination.
- Are individuals able to exercise the right to own property and establish private businesses without undue interference from state or nonstate actors?
Property rights are unevenly enforced, and the ability to engage freely in private economic activity is somewhat constrained. Corruption and bribery, inadequate infrastructure, and official bureaucratic and regulatory hurdles hinder business activities throughout the country. State involvement and interference in the economy is considerable. The 2011 Vested Properties Return Act allows Hindus to reclaim land that the government or other individuals seized, but it has been unevenly implemented. Tribal minorities have little control over land decisions affecting them, and Bengali-speaking settlers continue to illegally encroach on tribal lands in the CHT.
- Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private?
Islam is designated as the official religion, though the constitution designates secularism as among the “high ideals” the charter is grounded in. Although religious minorities have the right to worship freely, they occasionally face legal repercussions for proselytizing. Members of minority groups—including Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and Shiite and Ahmadiyya Muslims—face harassment and violence, including mob violence against their houses of worship. In October 2019, a Muslim mob attacked Hindu residences in Barisal after false rumors circulated that a Hindu man posted blasphemous content on Facebook. In May 2020, in the same town, a mob attacked a Hindu man’s shop and subsequently clashed with police, injuring 10 people. These incidents are part of a pattern in recent years in which violence against religious or other minorities appears to have been deliberately provoked through social media.
Those with secular or nonconformist views can face societal opprobrium and attacks from hardline Islamist groups.
- Are there free and independent media?
Journalists and media outlets face many forms of pressure, including frequent lawsuits, harassment, and serious or deadly physical attacks. Throughout 2020, journalists were beaten by uniformed security forces, forced to disappear, or sued for defamation. Journalists have been arrested or attacked in connection with reporting on topics including crimes committed during the 1971 war and election irregularities during both the 2018 parliamentary polls and 2019 local polls. A climate of impunity for attacks on media workers remains the norm, and there has been little progress made to ensure justice for a series of blogger murders since 2015. Dozens of bloggers remain in hiding or exile.
The 2018 Digital Security Act allows the government to conduct searches or arrest individuals without a warrant, criminalizes various forms of speech, and was vehemently opposed by journalists.
Bangladesh Country Report
The followings are a list of report from various government and non government bodies regarding the human rights, democracy and political situation in Bangladesh. It is evident from these reports that religious and ethnic minorities in Bangladesh are subject to brutal attacks and state sponsored discrimination.