Lift ban on Ahmadiyya publications
AI asks government to ensure freedom of religion
The Amnesty International (AI) has urged the government to immediately rescind the ban on Ahmadiyaa publications and not yield to Islamist groups demands that are discriminatory in nature and amount to violation of Ahmadiyya rights.
The international human rights watchdog also asked the government to publicly declare its full support for the freedom of religion and ensure that no acts of intimidation or violence against the Ahmadiyyas are tolerated and all perpetrators are brought to justice.
The AI made these recommendations in a report titled Bangladesh: The Ahmadiyya Community - their rights must be protected posted on its website Friday.
The report said Ahmadiyyas have been the target of a hate campaign organised by a number of Islamist groups in recent months, adding these groups mobilised crowds to chant anti-Ahmadiyya slogans, sought confiscation of Ahmadiyaa mosques, and demanded that the government declare them non-Muslims.
About 100,000 Ahmadiyyas have been living in fear of attack, loot and murder since around October 2003 when the anti-Ahmadiyya agitation began, it said.
It urged the government to institute an independent and impartial international-standard investigation by a competent authority into past attacks on members of the Ahmadiyya community and violation of their fundamental rights.
The inquiry should seek to identify those who killed Ahmadiyya mosque Imam Shah Alam of Raghunathpurbak village in Jessore last October and those who beat up other Ahmadiyyas, the report said.
It stressed identifying those involved in the excommunication and nearly 25 days of illegal house arrest of 17 Ahmadiyya families of Kushtias Uttar Bhabanipur village in October 2003.
The AI also asked the government to identify Islamist leaders and others who, since October 2003, have been engaged in fomenting anti-Ahmadiyya sentiments through chanting hate slogans and organising marches to occupy Ahmadiyya mosques.
The inquiry should seek to establish if any police personnel has acted in connivance with those attacking the Ahmadis (Ahmadiyyas), the report said.
The AI urged the government to fully implement the recommendations of the said investigation as soon as they become available.
While the Government of Bangladesh has acted to prevent the crowds from entering Ahmadi (Ahmadiyya) mosques, it has taken no action against the perpetrators of the hate campaign. Fundamental rights of the Ahmadis (Ahmadiyyas) have been further violated by a government ban on their publications.
This action (the ban, imposed on January 8) by the government has further aggravated the plight of the Ahmadiyya community, the report said, mentioning news reports that Islamist leaders have been putting pressure on the local administration to allow them to enter Ahmadiyaa homes and remove the banned publications.
Amnesty International is urging the Government of Bangladesh to ensure the safety and security of the Ahmadi (Ahmadiyya) community; uphold its members right to practice their religion without fear of persecution; lift the ban on their publications; and ensure that those responsible for attacks against Ahmadis (Ahmadiyyas) are brought to justice, the report said.