International NGOs operating in Bangladesh on Thursday expressed ‘deep shock and concern’ over the recent arson attacks on minorities and demanded ‘fully independent and unbiased’ judicial investigation to punish the perpetrators.
In a media release they sympathised with the affected families and urged the government to take measures to restore the damaged temples and relics. They also called upon all stakeholders ‘to make every effort immediately to restore peace in the affected areas’.
Transparency International of Bangladesh sent the media release on behalf of the 40 INGOs.
Religious fanatics, apparently stirred by a Facebook posting allegedly defaming the Qur’an, had rampaged through the monasteries, homes and shops of the Buddhist at Ramu in Cox’s Bazar on September 29 night and attacked temples of Buddhists and Hindus in Chittagong’s Patiya, and Cox’s Bazar’s Ukhia and Teknaf upazilas the next day.
‘We express our heartfelt solidarity with the affected families and the Buddhist community in general, and request the government to take immediate measures to ensure fullest possible restoration of the damaged temples and relics,’ the statement read.
‘The affected individuals must also be compensated and rehabilitated as early as possible,’ it said.
They also called upon all stakeholders to ‘promote and sustain the sense of mutual respect, equality and justice’.
The media statement read: ‘Working in Bangladesh has always been a matter of pride and satisfaction for us for the way the religious, cultural, ethnic and other diversities have been glorified in social behaviour and mutual relationships.’
‘We know how deeply cherished are secularism, equal rights, justice and peaceful coexistence as the core values and spirit of Bangladesh’s history, particularly the liberation war. We also observe on a daily basis how strongly these are endeared as inseparable elements in the lives of the people at large.’
It added: ‘The cowardly acts of violence, premeditated as they reportedly appear to be, are absolutely inconsistent with these core values of Bangladesh which make us particularly concerned.
‘We call upon the government to ensure that justice is done through a fully independent, high-powered and credible judicial investigation as early as possible.’
It said: ‘There is no alternative to exemplary punishment against those who will be found guilty.’
CHT Voice, e-mouthpiece of the PCJSS.