September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document
Title:Bangladeshi New Yorkers meet to limit communal tensions in Bangladesh, New York
Blurb:Concerned about rising tensions in Bangladesh and New York, Bangladeshis formed a new group to combat communal violence and inflammatory rhetoric.
Body:At an Astoria meeting on Feb. 28, Bangladeshi citizens formed a new group to protest spreading communal conflict between religious groups. The effort comes after the U.S. branch of the Bangladeshi Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Council announced it would sue the government of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia unless it arrests those responsible for recent repression against minority communities.
At the Feb. 28 meeting, Atiqur Rahman Salu, a main organizer, said the group would explore the extent to which the Hindu-Buddhist-Christian Unity Councils decisions are tenable under the U.S. law. Acknowledging that Bangladesh is in a bitter crisis, Salu called the recent Unity Council meeting a bitter expression of communal sentiment, and urged people to oppose such divisiveness.
At the Unity Council meeting, many Hindu Bangladeshis argued the Bangladeshi government has sanctioned the recent violence against Hindus. Twenty-five thousand Hindus have taken shelter in Kotali Para because they are afraid of repression. Village after village has been ruined, said Subrata Biswas. The Prime Minister and Home Minister are telling lies. How our elected government can speak against its own citizens is beyond comprehension. This government is communal, proved by Syedi (an elected official of the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party) saying he would not keep any idols. Biswas said Bangladeshi television station Ekhushey Television has documented the governments sponsorship of communal activities. Similar comments echoed throughout the meeting.
At the Feb. 28 meeting, 100 Hindu and Muslim participants formed a new group, Probashi Bangladeshi Nagarik Committee (Bangladeshi Citizens Committee Abroad), which would work to counter communal conflict. Jahanghir Alam, a former student leader and Bangladeshi freedom fighter, proposed forming a liaison committee to talk with the Unity Council.
Mahadev Sarkar, a Hindu leader and an organizer of the meeting, said the Unity Council did not represent the majority of the Hindus in Bangladesh. He added that Hindus had embraced Islam to protect themselves from the atrocities of upper caste Brahmins.
He suggested that Hindu leaders, by now urging Muslims to return to Hinduism, are conspiring to bring them back within the repressive spectrum of Brahmins, and possibly to make Bangladesh a part of India.
Sarker noted that Bangladesh has resources, and suggested that plundering those resources as a motive. He said that Bangladesh was for all, and the Hindus who live in Bangladesh must live with the Muslims in peace.
The meeting was also addressed by General Secretary of the U. S. branch of the Bangladesh National Party (BND), Zillur Rahman, among others. The new group decided on Awlad Hossen Khan as the convener, Mahadev Sarkar as the joint Convener, and Ali Imam as its Member-Secretary.