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European Human Rights Conference on Bangladesh

European Human Rights Conference on Bangladesh

Extremism, Intolerance & Violence

17 June 2005

SOAS (School of Oriental & African Studies), University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, UK

Conference Resolutions

Resolution concerning the persecution of and discrimination against the religious & ethnic minorities and political opponents, civil society NGOs, journalists and other groups in Bangladesh adopted at the European Human Rights Conference on Bangladesh on 17th June 2005 at SOAS, University of London:

This European Human Rights Conference on Bangladesh,

Recognizing that religious extremism is threatening democratic institutions and constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion in Bangladesh, and thus provoking intolerance towards minority ethnic and faith communities of Bangladesh:

Noting that wherever religious extremism has arisen, it has led to violence, division, anarchy, intolerance and hatred, not only towards other communities within the state concerned, but also against people of other cultures and backgrounds:

Alarmed that the Bangladesh authorities have not only failed to stop extremist repression and violence, but have colluded with religious extremist groups to violate and usurp human rights of minority groups, namely, but not limited to, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Ahmadiyya Muslims, secular civil society members, NGOs, journalists and members of opposition parties:

Deploring the government ban on Ahmadiyya publication, which violates the freedom of religion and expression supposedly enshrined in the Constitution of Bangladesh:

Convinced that renaming of mosques and the burning of books and important historical documents is deeply resented and opposed by the vast majority of the people of Bangladesh;

Regretting Bangladesh Government’s abject failure to effectively investigate and prosecute the criminals responsible for violent, grenade & bomb attacks on leading members of the opposition, the British High Commissioner, arts and cultural events, members and institutions of religious minorities and others;

  1. Calls upon the government of Bangladesh to bring to justice the perpetrators and planners of violence in Bangladesh including the attackers on Anwar Chowdhury, the British High Commissioner; and Shah AMS Kibria, the former finance minister; to halt immediately extra judicial killings and custodial tortures, and to bring to justice those responsible for throwing grenades at the rally addressed by the Leader of the Opposition, HE Sheikh Hasina on 21st August 2004, in which scores of people were killed and maimed.
  2. Further calls on the government to halt the abuse of human rights especially of minority faith communities and civil society members;
  3. Demands that preparations be made to ensure a free and fair election under a neutral administration, conducted by an independent election commission along with the interim government, to be chosen in consultation with the opposition;
  4. Urges the government of Bangladesh to safeguard the independence of the judiciary, and to prevent and reverse party politicisation of the police, administration and the judiciary;
  5. Calls upon the government of Bangladesh to repeal the 5th and 8th amendment of the Constitution and the anti minority and racist laws such as the vested property legislation;
  6. Demands the implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord of 1997 and an end to the demographic transformation of the CHT under military occupation,
  7. Reminds the government of Bangladesh that in accordance with the constitutional rights of the people, the ban on Ahmadiyya publication must be lifted, Ahmadiyya mosques must be restored to the community, and equal rights secured to the Ahmadiyya community and other minorities, in employment and the delivery of public services of Bangladesh.
  8. Calls upon the government of Bangladesh to establish a permanent and independent minority and women’s rights commission.
  9. Demands that the government of Bangladesh undertake comprehensive and transparent investigation, with the aid of international intelligence agencies, in order to bring to justice those who smuggled truckloads of illegal arms (particularly those recovered from the government controlled jetties in Chittagong port, Bogra, Kuril, Budda), including grenades, and to recover those arms which have already found their way into terrorist hands, and to publish a report on the origin of those arms, the persons and organisations involved in their smuggling.
  10. Asks donors, including the World Bank, USAID, The EU and others, who will be participating in the Bangladesh Development Forum 2006, to concentrate on good governance, and in particular, on the maintenance of stable democracy in Bangladesh, based on respect for human rights, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
  11. Decides to establish a European civil society network to monitor the progress of Bangladesh towards compliance with international human rights standards, to make representations to governments and to the UN Human Rights Commission and to hold further meetings.

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