During 2012, the blasphemy laws continued to be used as a tool by society to target religious minorities. The poorly drafted legislation enables police and individuals to abuse the laws, incarcerating individuals indefinitely on the basis of hearsay and without evidence. Abductions, forced marriage and forced conversion continued to place minority girls in danger and the migration of Hindus seeking refuge across the border in India exemplifies the severity of the situation for minorities. Those who dared to speak out or act in defence of human rights were targeted for their courage.
Human Rights groups have also been calling 2012 a â€˜deadly year for Shiasâ€™ with estimates that more than 300 Shias were killed during the year. Only one day before the new year, nineteen people were killed after a bomb struck two buses carrying Shia Muslims in southwest Balochistan province. In August, gunmen dressed as Pakistani security officials stopped a bus traveling from Rawalpindi to the northwestern Gilgit region and dragged the passengers off the bus. The gunmen asked the passengers to show their identity cards and then shot 22 Shiites at point blank range. It was the third such incident in six months.Top down discrimination in the Constitution of Pakistan, various laws and the education curriculum combined with a lack of investigation and prosecution of hate crimes has left religious minority groups in Pakistan (Christians, Hindus, Ahmadiyyas, Shias, Sikhs, Bahai) unprotected and effectively second class citizens.
With uncertainty surrounding upcoming elections in 2013, continuing violence, and a government unable or unwilling to act to protect minorities; their stability and safety is of increased concern. Without real change and commitment at the State level to protect minorities; corruption, impunity and discrimination continues to filter down to the everyday level. Weak legal procedures and impunity for violence against the most discriminated means that the most vulnerable are the least likely to receive the protection they need.
Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have laudably declared their commitment to a peaceful, inclusive society for Bangladesh. Indeed, most Bengali citizens clearly have a wish for the same. However, given a contradictory constitutional combination of secularism with Islam as the state religion, Bangladeshâ€™s religious, ethnic and sexual minorities remain vulnerable to violence, discrimination and intimidation. This is reinforced by flawed legal procedures and institutions, corruption, poverty, illiteracy and traditional practices. In 2011â€2012, indigenous peoples, Hindus, Buddhists and other minorities continued to have their rights violated and/or property seized by land grabbers, extremists and some political leaders with authorities either directly involved or bribed into looking the other way. Between September and October 2012, the largest attacks in recent history against Buddhist communities have added grave concerns with regard to the security and rights of minorities in Bangladesh. Given credible information supported by both government and nonâ€government sources of the inadequacy of public representatives.
questions have been raised about the credibility of the governmentâ€™s commitment to protect the rights of minorities. The following report is only intended to raise questions based on the evidence in order to ensure a more secure and peaceful Bangladesh for all.
GHRDâ€™s strong ties and regular contact with local partners, in combination with consistent lobbying in Europe, provides the perfect bridge between small, locally based human rights organisations and international institutions promoting minority rights.
Securing access to UN mechanisms, and a broader international lobbying platform will further GHRDâ€™s capacity to influence more international bodies and authorities.