Attack on the Buddhists and their Temples in Bangladesh
A Report by IARF Bangladesh Chapter
07 October 2012
On the night of the 29th September 2012 a militant group of people attacked the Buddhist communities of Ramu, a small town in the district of Cox’s Bazar of Chittagong division in Bangladesh. The culprits set fire on more than fifty houses and damaged twelve Buddhist temples. Most of the houses attacked were burnt into ashes and all the temples attacked were seriously damaged. One of these temples was also a museum of the history of Buddhism in Bangladesh.
The Buddhist have lost more than fifty houses and twelve temples have been seriously damaged. But the nation has lost more than what we can even conceive of. The attack on the Buddhists and their temples is not only an attack on the minority people, it was an attack against the state and the nation as a whole. This has damaged the image of Bangladesh as country which was known as a role model of inter-religious harmony. No language is enough to explain the tragedy of the affected people and no word is sufficient enough to condemn this heinous activity.
The free printed media and the electronic media of Bangladeshgave a massive coverage of the incident. The entire nation was stunned. All the leaders of different political parties including the Government, the members of the civil society, religious leaders and human rights organizations condemned the incident with the strongest possible language. The members of the IARF, Bangladesh Chapter also brought out a Protest Rally against this unfortunate incident. We demanded that the burnt houses be properly rebuilt, the affected people be given compensation and shelter, and all the temples be rebuilt immediately by the Govt.
Since 30th September there have been Protest Rallies throughout the country, because (1) 99% of people in Bangladesh believe in inter-religious harmony and peaceful co-existence; (2) This incident has damaged the image of Bangladesh as a country of inter-religious harmony; (3) The Buddhists, by nature, are peace-loving people and for hundreds of years Muslims and Buddhists have been living together in an ideal and peaceful manner.
The report of the Enquiry Commission formed by the Govt. is yet to be out. That is why we are not sure as to who are responsible for the unfortunate incident. We hope, within few days the report will be available. However, it is almost evident that a group of fanatics are responsible for this unfortunate incident. Until the report of the Enquiry Commission is out, we cannot be sure about the motive.
Buddhist religious leaders including some Buddhist Ministers of the present Govt. met the Prime Minister of Bangladesh yesterday (06.10.2012). She assured all concerned that the Govt. would take stern action against the culprits. She will visit the site of occurrence tomorrow (8th September). She was in USA during the incident, which is why she could not go their earlier.
Meanwhile, some culprits have already been arrested and two of them have confessed. On the basis of the national demand, the Officer in Charge of Police of Ramu Town has been arrested for his failure to control the situation, and he has been in police remand. It is quite encouraging to note that Buddhists and Muslims in Cox’s Bazar held a Harmony Rally. The entire nation expressed solidarity with the Buddhists in the country, and the demand of exemplary punishment of the culprits has become a national demand. It has become everybody’s slogan: “Bangladesh is a country of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians, and we must live like brothers and sisters of the same parents.”
Let us all pray for the best and hope for the best. Side by side, we seek forgiveness from those who have become victims of fanaticism.
Dr. Kazi Nurul Islam
President, Bangladesh Chapter