Members of Ahmadiyya communities in Patuakhali and Chittagong
Members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, a religious community which considers itself a sect of Islam, are at imminent risk of violent attack following threats issued against them by Islamist leaders.
On 6 May 2004 leaders of Khatame Nabuwat Committee, a radical Islamist group, reportedly called on its members to lay siege to all Ahmadiyya establishments in the cities of Patuakhali and Chittagong, southern Bangladesh, and to evict Ahmadis from their places of worship and community buildings. This call was repeated in a rally on 11 May, and in distributed leaflets which detailed the programme. In Patuakhali, the threat affects some 27,000 members of the Ahmadiyya community.
Although local authorities have reportedly stated that they will take measures to ensure the safety of the Ahmadis, the government has yet to take the important step of publicly adding its support for such measures, and to condemn this incitement of violence against Ahmadiyya communities.
The recent targeting of members of the Ahmadiyya community is believed to be a tactical measure by Islamist groups to force the government to yield to their political demand for the introduction of more stringent Islamic law in Bangladesh. The groups are hoping to obtain mass support from poor and disenfranchised sections of society, whom they feel they could influence by appealing to their religious beliefs.
In the past year, Amnesty International has documented abuses by these groups including the killing of an Ahmadi preacher, the 'excommunication' and illegal house arrest of Ahmadi villagers, a ban on Ahmadiyya publications, street agitations against Ahmadis and the rising wave of hate speech and public rallies calling for the declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language:
State Minister for Home Affairs
Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs
COPIES TO: Diplomatic representatives of Bangladesh accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after 10 June 2004.
URL : http://www2.amnesty.se/uaonnet.nsf/0/48360375B6597936C1256E930023E426?opendocument
Published with permission from Angelika Pathak, Researcher, South Asia team, Amnesty Intl.