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Religious intolerance: Army threatens not to use loudspeaker

Hill Watch Human Rights Forum
NEWS No. 52/2007, November 07, 2007

On 5 November 2007, Major Qamruzzaman, commander of Babuchara zone, called Sneha Moy Chakma and Santosh Jibon Chakma to his camp and threatened them not to use loudspeaker for public announcement of the Katin Chivor Danotsav, the biggest religious festival in Chittagong Hill Tracts.

The Major gave no reason for the whimsical embargo, but added that he would allow using loudspeakers only if they could show written permission from the Deputy Commissioner of Khagrachari district in this regard.

The KCD festival is observed after the end of the rainy season recluse or Barshabas (Buddhist Lent) in the later half of October. There is no fixed date for it; temple committees usually choose a convenient date after consultation among themselves.

Sadhana Tila Bana Vihara, which came under the spotlight when the settlers made a futile attempt to capture it in August-September this year, will observe the festival on 8 and 9 November.

To make the festival a success and to ensure that large numbers of people do take part in it, the Vihara committee decided, as they did in the past, to publicize the programme through loudspeakers attached to a jeep.

But the army commander came in the way. He would not allow them to publicize the programme in this way unless they show a written permission from the DC.

But there is no restriction put on the use of loudspeakers in any religious events. Muslim Imams are always using them during their religious functions and gatherings, not to say the Muazzin’s call to prayers five times a day.

Halting vehicles
On 1 November, the army personnel halted the car carrying Rev. Sumanalankar Mahathero at a check post in Babuchara. He was on his way to attend the Katin Chivor Dan festival at Baghaichari Mukh Jyanangkur Buddha Viara in Babuchara under Khagrachari district.

Other vehicles carrying Buddhist monks were also halted and checked.

The soldiers tried to prevent them from attending the religious festival. However, when Rev. Sumanalankar threatened to begin observing the festival right in front of the camp, the army man finally gave in.

Religious intolerance among the army personnel runs deep and persecution of Buddhist monks and their followers has become systematic in CHT.

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Hill Watch Human Rights Forum provides accurate, objective and reliable information on human rights abuses in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. For further details contact: hwhrf_99@yahoo.com or hwhrf.cht@gmail.com



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