Community Women Against Abuse

We Stand for Equality, Secularism and Peace

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DON’T Be Silenced, DON’T Keep Silent

In Memory of Tomalika Shingha and writer Arpita Roychoudhury

Community Women Against Abuse are distressed and at loss by the mysterious death of our member and an exiled Bangladeshi feminist activist, Tomalika Shingha. Better known as Arpita Roychoudhury, Tomalika had served the collective as a public engagement and social media lead for more than a year. At our shock, Tomalika’s deadbody was mysteriously found in the shower room of her Berlin residence on Tuesday, 18 December 2018.  The reason for Tomalika’s death is unknown and being investigated.

We express our deep condolence to Tomalika Shingha’s family. Tomalika’s sudden death is not only a loss for her family but also an unrecoverable loss for the collective of CWAA. Formerly a Botany student,  the 22-year old Tomalika had overcome an incredible and lonely journey following her gang rape in 2016.  In May 2016, she was abducted by a group of local Islamists, claimed to be belonging to Tangail and Maymensingha Awami League, then was drugged and raped for three days because of her belief and atheist writing.  She sought safety in Germany following repeated death threats and sexual violence by her rapists. She had overcome extremely difficult situation during her flight in Bangladesh, India and in Berlin in 2016 and 2017.

It has been more than two weeks since Tomalika’s body was discovered in her residence. Her family have been eagerly waiting for the autopsy report and the coffin. But Berlin Police is yet to say when the body will be released and be handed over to her family.

“German Police never contacted the family. We never heard from the Police. They are only keeping in touch with the Bangladesh High Commission in Germany. It is causing further mental distress at this time of grief”, said Tomalika’s father.

This is unacceptable and alarming. In our view, Police should get in touch with victim’s family without delay. It is the duty of Police to update the family about the progress of investigation and about a tentative date of when the coffin would be handed over to family.

Further distressing news is that while Tomalika’s death is being investigated, a group of bloggers and Bengali news men have engaged in stories by suggesting that Tomalika Shingha’s death might be a predicted suicide. We urge everyone to disengage from and reject such fairy tales.

“Tomalika was not suicidal”, said her father and younger sister. During their last telephone conversation with Tomalika on 12 December, Tomalika sounded in good spirit – said her younger sister. Likewise, CWAA spokeperson Dr Rumana Hashem, who had known Tomalika closely for nearly three years and had written about her story, confirmed that there was no visible symptom of suicide till her last correspondence. Tomalika sounded hopeful and interested in getting involved in frontline feminist activism in early December 2018.

Tomalika was an extraordinarily strong personality, an outspoken feminist and an atheist writer of minority Singhalese background. She wanted to live, and sought safety in Berlin in winter 2017. Her host, PEN Centre Deutschland, knew her as a firm and positive person. “If she wanted to commit suicide, she could have done so 2 years ago after her rape”, said Tomalika’s father.

We express our utter disturbance by the ongoing smear campaign against Tomalika Shingha. As her father, we see such smearing is a way to cover up the crimes perpetrated against Tomalika by those who forced her to exile.

These criminals also claim that Tomalika Shingha was a traitor, hence she was exiled. They are threatening her father “to keep quiet”. “Or they would destroy and banish me and rape my other daughter”, said Tomalika Shingha’s father. Bangladeshi and German media are silent about the incidence. Instead of publishing the names of her perpetrators media published victim’s home address, father’s name, work place and details about the family. “This has furthered the potential for persecution and enabled her rapists to target her younger sister”, reported Tomalika’s father.   

We advise press to stop publishing fairy tales and refraining from re-victimising the victim. Media should publish the details of her rapists and extremists who forced Tomalika Shingha to seek safety in Germany. We call upon all media to only publish first hand accounts of her family members. According to Tomalika Shingha’s father newsmen in Bangladesh and Germany never tried to contact him. Neither police nor media made any contact with Tomalika’s father. Tomalika Shingha’s family is currently under religious persecution.

We call upon the government of Bangladesh to take urgent initiative to ensure safety of Tomalika’s family. We call upon German Police to ensure a fair investigation into Tomalika Shingha’s mysterious death. We demand Justice for Tomalika Shingha.

Readers are encouraged to share this post with your friends and network – far and wide. Tomalika Shingha’s family need your support. Please DO NOT engage with any story of suicide before Tomalika Shinghas’s autopsy has been completed.


What YOU Can DO to HELP

To help get justice for Tomalika, you can do the following.

  • Email Bangladesh’s recently re-elected prime minister, Sheikh Hasina Wazed.  Feel free to copy any part of the text above and email to: .
  • Tweet to German Police by asking for a fair and prompt investigation.  You can say:

“German #polizei, ensure fair and prompt investigation into Bangladeshi feminist and exiled writer @PEN_ Deutschland Tomalika Shingha’s mysterious death.  Why is it taking you so long to give us a clue of what/who killed Tomalika? Did @polizeiberlin contact victim’s family yet?

#BerlinPolizei Tomalika’s father awaits your phone call #JusticeForTomalikaShingha

  • Tweet to Bangladesh’s prime minister and say: “PM @PmSHasina we’re pleased to see a female PM in Bangladesh. Did you hear the mysterious death of a young minority woman of your country whose body was found in Berlin? What are you doing to get a fair investigation into #TomalikaShingha’s death ? When will #Tomalika’s coffin be handed over to her family?

Sheikh Hasina, ensure  #JusticeForTomalikaShingha

  • Or tweet: “The young Bangladeshi feminist and atheist writer @PEN_ Deutschland whose deadbody was discovered in her Berlin residence was gang raped by ruling party Islamists in Bangladesh.  They’re now threatening victim’s father. As a woman leader of Bangladesh @PmSHasina must ensure #JusticeForTomalikaShingha

Sheikh Hasina, prosecute rapists of #ArpitaRoychoudhury Ensure safety for victims family #JusticeForTomalikaShingha


The above are some tips only. Feel free to take your independent initiatives and let us know if you have a better idea to create pressure on authorities. We are here to listen to you.

Contact @CWomenAA or Pushpita Gupta <> or Rumana Hashem <>

DON’T keep silent. DON’T let Tomalika’s family be silenced. Act NOW!

#JusticeForTomalikaShingha  #JusticeForArpitaRoychoudhury


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Protesters Demand Justice for Rape Victims and Rani Yan Yan

 Press Release by Jumma Peoples Network, UK

 London, 15 March 2018

Protest against rape and sexual abuse of Marma sisters outside Bangladesh High Commission in London, 15 March 2018. Copy right: JPNUK.


The Jumma Peoples Network UK, a non-profit, non-aligned human rights organisation based in the UK, in association with Survival International organised a peaceful demonstration outside the Bangladesh High Commission in London on Thursday 15 March 2018.

This event was held to condemn the physical assault on Chakma Queen Rani Yan Yan committed on 15 February 2018 at the Rangamati General Hospital and the rape and sexual assault on two indigenous Marma sisters on 22 January 2018, by the Bangladesh Security Forces. The attacks took place in their home in Orasori village in Rangamati Hill District, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh. Protesters condemned the attacks on indigenous women’s and their human rights defenders.

Two minutes’ silence was observed as a mark of respect for the victims of rape and sexual assault and to express solidarity with Rani Yan Yan and other women Human Rights defenders.

Protest against rape and sexual violence outside the BDHC in London 15 March 2018. Copyright: Pushpita Gupta

An indigenous woman from the CHT holds placard asking for Justice for Marma Sisters at the protest against sexual violence against indigenous women. BDHC, London, 15 March 2018. Copyright: Pushpita Gupta.

Kumar Sivasish Roy, Ujjaini Roy and Lal Amlai from Jumma Peoples Network UK, Chris Chapman from Amnesty International, James Swapan Peris from Campaign for the Protection of Religious Minorities of Bangladesh and Rebecca Durand, a womens human rights activist spoke at the event. Members from the Nirmul Committee, Community Women Against Abuse, Jumma Community, and more well-wishers were also present there.

At the end of the protest rally, a joint petition by the Survival International and Jumma Peoples Network, UK was submitted to the Bangladesh High Commission to be delivered to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.






Please click to down load:

Survival International and Jumma Peoples Network UK joint petition to PM of Bangladesh 


Press Release – Demo in London and Survival International and Jumma Peoples Network UK – joint petition to PM of Bangladesh


Thank you for your solidarity.

Protest against rape and sexual violence in the CHT took place outside Bangladesh High Commission in London, 15 March 2018. Copyright: Pushpita Gupta.

For more information please contact:




Note:The International Council for Indigenous Peoples of Chittagong Hill Tracts & Jumma Peoples Network International started the below petition to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and 4 others

You can Sign the petition if you agree with the statement below:

Justice for raped Marma sisters, Rani Yan Yan and Indigenous women human rights defenders


We the undersigned individuals and organisations are deeply concerned about the recent incident of sexual violence against two indigenous Marma sisters on 22/1/18 [1] and assaults on Rani Yan Yan (the Chakma Queen) and Women Human Rights Defenders on 15/2/18 [2] in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh perpetrated by Bangladesh military and security forces.

Human rights groups report there has been a concerted and coordinated effort to cover up the rape and sexual assault [3] and also attempts to impose a mainstream media blackout [4].

Incidents of rape and sexual assault are common in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, with a young Tripura girl reportedly raped on International Womens’ Day [5]. From 2014 to June 2017, there have been 297 reported cases [6] of violence against indigenous women and girls none of these cases have been properly prosecuted, nor the perpetrators punished.  Rape and sexual violence targeting indigenous women and girls are part of a systematic and brutal strategy to terrorise the indigenous communities and displace them from their lands. [7]


On 22 January 2018 a patrol party from Farua Army Camp carried out house to house searches in Orasori village, Bilaichari district in Rangamati, Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh They entered the house of an indigenous Marma family. Two men raped the 18-year-old sister and seriously sexually assaulted the younger 14-year-old sister.  Their seven-year-old brother was present in the room.

The following day the sisters were taken to hospital for treatment. Whilst at the hospital they were placed under tight surveillance, unlawfully detained [8] and subjected to degrading treatment.  Rani Yan-Yan and other women’s human rights defenders attended the sisters for 20 consecutive days, to provide support and to bear witness to their treatment. One of the reasons Rani Yan Yan visited the sisters, is because she is also from the Marma indigenous group and can communicate with the sisters in their mother tongue. The sisters said they were scared to return to their village, for fear of retaliation for speaking out.  A writ was filed to release the sisters into the protective custody of Raja Devasish Roy and Rani Yan Yan. [9]

Attack on Rani Yan Yan and Women Human Rights Defender

The parents of the two girls, having allegedly been placed under extreme pressure from the Bangladeshi security forces, filed a counter-writ for their daughters’ release, which was upheld on the 13/2/18.  This led to a raid on the hospital by security forces and plain-clothes personnel when the sisters were forcibly taken from the hospital (15/3/18). Rani Yan-Yan and a woman human rights defender were assaulted, kicked and beaten trying to protect the sisters who were refusing to leave.  A physical assault of such magnitude on Rani Yan Yan is tantamount to an attack on all the indigenous people of the Chakma Circle. The Chakma Raj is held in high esteem and is considered to be the custodians of centuries-old traditions and way of life.

Accountability and Scrutiny

There is an intense lack of scrutiny of the situation facing Indigenous peoples in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh.  It is notable that Bangladesh is the largest contributing country to the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UN DPKO).  It is abhorrent to think of perpetrators of such crimes serving as UN Peacekeepers.  We welcome the statement made by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (4/3/16) pledging reforms to improve accountability for abuse by peacekeepers including measures for stricter vetting of new UN personnel and quicker investigations. [10]

International Scrutiny and Safeguarding

It is commendable the international community is acting to combat the sexual exploitation and abuse of vulnerable women and children in communities by aid workers from International NGOs such as Oxfam and Save the Children.  However, the same level of scrutiny and accountability is required for all recipients of aid, including Bangladesh, especially when there are credible reports of vulnerable women and children and being sexually abused by those in power and having little or no means of holding those in power to account for their crimes.


We call on Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Government of Bangladesh to:

  • End impunity for security forces for sexual and physical violence against indigenous women in the CHT
  • Bring all perpetrators of sexual violence to justice in the CHT and plains of Bangladesh in accordance to international standards;
  • Ensure access to justice for the Marma sisters in accordance to international standards, as well as ensuring their physical and psychological wellbeing
  • Carry out an independent, impartial investigation into the attack on Rani Yan Yan and the Women Human Rights Defender and bring the perpetrators to justice
  • Urgently ensure the security of Rani Yan Yan and the Chakma royal family and other human rights defenders in the Chittagong Hill Tracts
  • Implement the 1997 CHT Peace Accords in full before its 21st anniversary in December 2018. [11]
  • Demilitarise the CHT and removal of army camps in accordance to the 1997 CHT Accord

We further request assurance from the Government of Bangladesh to take all precautions to ensure that there is proper scrutiny of all personnel, including military from Bangladesh prior to serving in the United Nations to certify ‘they have not committed or are alleged to have committed criminal offences and/or violations of international law..’

We would like to make the following recommendations to the United Nations and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations to improve the accountability of both civilian and military personnel serving the UN. We request the UN to:

  • Exercise due diligence and ensure proper screening prior to deployment of personnel from Bangladesh that are alleged to be involved in criminal offences and violations of international human rights law.  (In accordance with UN Human Rights Screening Policy 2012) [12]
  • Allow Bangladeshi and Indigenous women’s human rights groups, women human rights defenders from the to submit details of named personnel involved in these disturbing events, which are in clear violation of international human rights law, as well as criminal offences.
  • The UN establish a database of personnel unsuitable for UN service. This should be open to contributions from indigenous women and human rights groups with experience and evidence of human rights abuses
  • Consider how information on allegations of human rights abusers can be gathered from countries with poor rule of law and lack of access to justice

We urge the Special Rapporteurs on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Women, Torture, Child Protection, on Violence against Children and for Children and Armed Conflict, Human Rights Defenders and the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues to urgently investigate the recent events with a view to making recommendations to provide protection and access to justice for the Marma sisters, Rani Yan Yan and women human rights defenders, reporting back to the United Nations at CEDAW and via the appropriate mechanisms.


We call on the international community, International financial institutions and donor countries such as the UK, Australia, USA, France and Canada, Japan (DfID, AusAID, USAid, CIDA, SIDA, NORAD, EU) to:

  • Ensure proper investigation of de facto military rule and access to justice in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, ensuring that issues relating to the treatment of the indigenous people are brought into the mainstream and to bring strong diplomatic pressure to bear.
  • Encourage and support the Government of Bangladesh and Indigenous communities in the implementation of the 1997 CHT Peace Accords and de-militarisation of the CHT

We ask supporters to stand in solidarity with the Marma sisters, Rani Yan Yan and other human rights defenders as they fight for justice and to hold their abusers and the institutions they represent to account for their actions.

You can help by writing to your representative:





Further Reading and References:

[1] Rape of Marma sisters, In conversation with Rani Yan Yan; The Daily Star 2/2/18

[2] Bangladesh: Assault on Chakma Rani Yan Yan: An Official statement from the Chakma Raj Office

[3] Rights Groups accuse Bangladesh army of covering up sex assault, Al Jazeera, 28/2/18

[4] CHT incident, digital media and analogue government, New Age Bangladesh, 21/2/18

[5] Protest at DU against rape of Tripura girl, Daily Star 9/3/18

[6] Bangladesh: Uphold the Rule of Law and End Impunity for Security Forces, Asian Indigenous Peoples Pact statement 3/3/18

[7] Indigenous women target of rape in land-related conflicts in Bangladesh, IWGIA, 8/3/18

[8] Rape of Marma girl: Questions aplenty, Daily Star, 1/2/18

[9] Settle rule on Marma sisters in 6 weeks: SC, Daily Star, 22/2/18

[10] UN: Stop Sexual abuse by Peacekeepers, Human Rights Watch, 4/3/16

[11] Suffering of Jumma tribes continue 20 years after peace accord

[12] Human Rights Screening of UN Personnel, UN Policy 11/12/12

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Protest against sexual assault and attack on indigenous women in Chittagong Hill Tracts

Where? In front of Bangladesh High Commission, London

When? 13:00 – 14:00, Thursday, 15th March 2018


The Jumma Peoples Network UK, in association with Survival International, is organising a peaceful demonstration outside the Bangladesh High Commission, 28 Queen’s Gate, Kensington, London SW7 5JA, at 1pm to 2pm on Thursday 15th March 2018, to protest against rape and sexual abuse of two Marma sisters by the Bangladesh security forces in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, a region in south-east Bangladesh. As well, the demo is being organised to condemn the violent assault on the Chakma Circle Adviser, Rani Yan Yan.

Although two decades had passed since the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord 1997 was signed, incidences of rape and sexual violence against Jumma women are increasingly evident in the region. The recent occurrences of rape and sexual abuse were committed as part of organised violence against Jumma women. Indigenous community representatives and local civil society organisations have reported that members of Bangladesh Army, who were deployed by the government of Bangladesh for security purposes, had first raped a 19-year old Marma woman, then assaulted her 14-year old sister in a village called, Orasori, in Rangamati – a sub-district at the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The two Marma sisters were raped and abused on 22 January, and both of the sisters were confined at the Rangamati Sadar Hospital since 24 January. They were subsequently taken out of the the hospital by force (against their will), and were handed over to their parents after three weeks, on 15 February. Amnesty International reported that the sisters are currently staying at an accommodation of a ruling party leader in a restricted environment, contrary to their request of shelter.

Instead of enquiring into the rape and sexual abuse of the two sisters, the Bangladeshi security forces had committed a violent physical attack on the Chakma Circle Adviser, Rani Yan Yan, and one of her volunteers on 15 February 2018, when they were visiting the ward where the two Marma sisters were kept. Most appalling is that an impartial investigation to prosecute the perpetrators is yet to begin and the survivor’s family has been subjected to intimidation by the army.

We call upon everyone to join the demo and to stand in solidarity with those fighting for justice for the Marma sisters in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The protesters outside the Bangladesh High Commission in London will ask the Bangladesh government to ensure immediate safety and security of the two survivors of sexual violence, and to begin an impartial investigation into the violence against the Marma sisters. A joint memorandum by members of the Jumma Peoples Network UK, Survival International, Amnesty International, Campaign for Religious Minorities in Bangladesh and Secular Movement of Bangladesh, Community Women Against Abuse and other human rights activists will be submitted to the Bangladesh High Commission to be delivered to Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

We ask our supporters to join the demo this Thursday. Organisations and individuals are encouraged to bring along your own placards and organisational banners to show your support for the indigenous women in Bangladesh.

For further information, please contact:

Jumma Peoples Network UK

Phone: 07723059225 and 07931777262



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What you can do about the recent atrocities against the Hindu & Santal community in Bangladesh


The situation of religious minorities, violence against Hindus  and atrocities on Santal indigenous people has not changed or improved in Bangladesh. Since late October, government has hardly acted against the identifiable  criminals and to prevent atrocities against Santals and Hindu minorities – let alone rehabilitation of the people who were faced with genocide in their ancestors’ land.  We stand with the victims and survivors in Santal villages. We echo the voices of Hindu victims and support the Santal resilence. We call upon everyone to take action by following the advice of our friends at Secular Bangladesh Movement and Swadhinota Trust. Below is a call out for action that we reproduced from Swadhinota Trust listserve, issued on 10 Dec 2016 World Human Rights Day by the Swadhinata Trust, Nirmul Committee with the support of the Network of Social Change.


Hunger Strike outside Bangladesh High Commission in London, 23 November 2016. Photocredict: Atish D Saha


We are extremely concerned at the recent atrocities against Hindu community in Brahmanbaria in October and against Santals in Gaibandha in November. These attacks have provoked new fears amongst minority religious communities in Bangladesh.

It is beyond the capacity of the small groups of individuals or communities under sustained attack to assert their rights against very powerful political movements and land grabbers. We therefore need political, moral and, most importantly, immediate financial support from people from across the world who are concerned about this terrifying situation. We hope the vision of a common humanity will prevail over this terrible situation and that help reaches the beleaguered victims as soon as possible.

Things you can do to support


Speak out about the plight of religious minorities of Bangladesh with friends, families, neighbours and colleagues to increase awareness

Write to


Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

Prime Minister’s Office

Old Sangsad Bhaban

Tejgaon, Dhaka-1215


Via facsimile: +880 2 8113244; +880 2 8111015

your local MP, urging the UK govt to take the issue up with Bangladesh government



Contact lobbying organisations

Amnesty International

1 Easton Street, London, WC1X 0DW


Telephone: +44-20-74135500

Fax number: +44-20-79561157

Twitter: @Amnestyonline


Human Rights Watch

Audrey House
16 -20 Ely Place
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7618 4700


Support organisations working in Bangladesh

Secular Bangladesh Movement UK
Unit 1, Ground Floor Retail Unit, Fondant Court, Payne Road , London E3 2SP United Kingdom
Mobile:0044 7737828922
Nirmul Committee

International Forum for Secular Bangladesh, UK

Swadhinata Trust

International Centre for Community Development

Faculty of Social Sciences & Humanities

London Metropolitan University

166/220 Holloway Road, London N7 8DB

Issued on 10 Dec 2016 World Human Rights Day by the Swadhinata Trust, Nirmul Committee with the support of the Network of Social Change


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Memorandum of Hunger Strike for the Prevention of Violence against Minorities in Bangladesh

A symbolic one-day hunger strike held outside Bangladesh High Commission-in London on 23 Nov 2016. Photo credit: Atish D Saha

A symbolic one-day hunger strike held outside Bangladesh High Commission-in London on 23 Nov 2016. Photo credit: Atish D Saha



A spontaneous and well-participated hunger strike against atrocities on and destruction of Santal villages and minority people in Bangladesh, led by Secular Bangladesh Movement UK, was successfully held in front of Bangladesh High Commission in London. The Below statement was handed over to Bangladesh High Commissioner in London on Wednesday, 23rd November 2016 by the hunger strikers for the prevention of violence against minorities and justice for Santal indigenous people in Bangladesh.


A delegation of hunger strikers led by Pushpita Gupta of Secular Bangladesh Movement, UK, handed over a copy of the manifesto to Bangladesh High Commissioner in London on 23 Nov 2016. Photo credit: Atish D Saha

A delegation of hunger strikers led by Pushpita Gupta of Secular Bangladesh Movement, UK, handed over a copy of the  memorandum to Bangladesh High Commissioner in London on 23 Nov 2016. Photo credit: Atish D Saha



We, concerned community members and cultural activists from Bangladeshi-British origin, along with representatives of human rights and indigenous rights organisations and other UK-based civil society members and supporters of peace and humanity, are outraged by the ongoing atrocities against religious minorities and indigenous people in Bangladesh that have been committed by identifiable perpetrators. We strongly condemn the widespread and systematic attacks on Santal and religious minorities in Bangladesh.


Over the past few years news of Hindus and Buddhists and their temples and shrines being attacked in Bangladesh has dominated Bangladeshi and international media. This year the news of atrocities in Santal villages, and attacks on temples and idolatries in Bangladesh started since the onset of Diwaali, an annual religious festival of Hindu communities. Following an allegedly defamatory Facebook post by a Hindu community member who removed the post and apologised rightaway, systematic attacks on Hindu people and Santal villages by hardliner-Muslim protesters, demanding the death of the concerned young man, took a form of ethnic cleansing.


The young man denied sharing the post and was arrested by Bangladeshi police.  Nevertheless, the atrocities on Hindu and Santal people continued while authorities appeared as ineffective as silent in relation to prevention of atrocities and prosecution of those responsible for the organised violence against religious minorities in a supposedly secular state.


Hindu people have been persecuted and Santal citizens including Hindu priests in Bangladesh are being attacked, by sharp weapons, over and over. Their homes were burned down, temples and idolatries were broken down, and they were brutally persecuted across countryside of Bangladesh – from Nasirnagar to Chattak.  The organised atrocities are similar to 2012 when 2,5000 Muslim rioters burnt Buddhist temples. It has been reported that ongoing attacks on Hindu homes and Hindu temples have seen over 17 temples while hundreds of homes burned across the country. Some claim that over 300 homes were destroyed. Words cannot describe the brutality of organised violence against innocent women and men belonging to Santal and Hindu communities.


Today we stand in solidarity with the victims of the ongoing atrocities in Santal villages. We join this one day ‘hunger strike’ outside Bangladesh High Commission in London because we wish to express our profound concerns about religious violence.  We are here because we wish to be heard by the Bangladeshi authorities that this widespread violence cannot be tolerated.  We demand the concerned authorities to take immediate action to prevent violence and prosecute those responsible for atrocities. We call upon the Bangladesh High Commissioner to join us in asking the government to take immediate action to prevent violence against religious minorities in Bangladesh.


Bangladesh had been one of the largest democracies in the world, which has a secular (non-religious and non-communal) constitution. Although it has a large Muslim population, it is not only a Muslim country. Along with Muslims, Bangladesh had large number of Hindus, Ahmedias, Buddhists, some Christian population and 45 other indigenous communities who were there when the nation-state was born in 1971. The country is one of the fastest growing economies in South East Asia. It’s fight to be an independent nation-state based on democratic principles of freedom and justice was hard won 45 years ago.  We believe Bangladesh will not give this fight up to any religious hardliners.


Religious extremists hate Bangladesh’s secular position and have been trying to destroy the nation’s secular values and space long since. For a country that prides in its secular democratic vision, in practice very little is done to bring about unity and cohesion and tolerance in Bangladesh. A successful secular nation is one where people of different practices should be able to stay safe and in harmony. Every evil in the Human world seems to stem from the intolerance of difference which often renders injustice to the minorities. Bangladesh should be able to overcome intolerance and malevolence. As progressive nations work toward harmony, Bangladeshi administration should work harder to ensure everyone including religious minorities to live in harmony, with their own beliefs and with equal dignity. All perpetrators of religious atrocities in Hindu and Santal villages must be brought under the rule of Law with immediate effect.


We stand with victims of ongoing violence against religious minorities in Bangladesh. This Hunger Strike and Solidarity Vigil has been joined by Bangladeshi community organisations of all cultural, religious and ethnic background. It is time for us to stand united against religious violence. It is time to forget all of our differences. It is time for the concerned authorities to act with honesty and with courage to ensure safety of people and social cohesion. Bangladesh must not fail to confront religious violence. We demand the authorities to act audaciously.  The fight for secular values, equality of all, and social cohesion in Bangladesh is necessary to regain our diversity and democracy.


Secular Bangladesh Movement UK and Alliances

#HungerStirkeforthePreventionofViolenceAgainstMinorities #JusticeForIndigenousPeople


Pushpita Gupta – a community women’s blog member and representative of minority rights hunger strikers stood with a placard for Santal people outside Bangladesh High Commission in London on Wednesday 23 November 2016. Photo credit: Atish D Saha

The last hunger strikers outside Bangladesh High Commission in London in black masks light candles for victims of violence against minority Santal people in Bangladesh in the evening of 23 November 2016. Photo credit: Atish D Saha

The last hunger strikers outside Bangladesh High Commission in London in black masks light candles for victims of violence against minority Santal people in Bangladesh in the evening of 23 November 2016. Photo credit: Atish D Saha

Media contact:

Ansar Ahemed Ullah: +44 7956 890689,

Ms Pushpita Gupta, Convenor of Secular Bangladesh Movement,

Dr Rumana Hashem , Spokesperson of Community Women’s Blog: +44 7936 047597,












Hunger Strike outside Bangladesh High Commission in London, 23 November 2016. Photocredict: Atish D Saha

Hunger Strike outside Bangladesh High Commission in London, 23 November 2016. Photo credict: Atish D Saha

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Minorities, Why can’t you be like us?

By Piya Mayenin 


Extreme views have seen deaths of  freethinkers in Bangladesh since 2013. Over the last few years news of Hindus and Buddhists and their temples and shrines being attacked in Bangladesh has also dominated Bangladeshi and even international newspapers. Earlier this year a shocking atrocity where foreigners and foreign born children of Bangladeshi citizens were hacked to death in a café in ISIS fashion killings is perhaps the most chilling and terrifying of its sort to ever happen in Bangladesh.  From the onset of Hindu Diwaali  this year news of temples and idolatries destroyed dominated newspapers once again. Then, last week  was the news of a young man  that has allegedly shared a face book post that some believe has denigrated the Masjid- Al-Haram, the great mosque of Makka, a holy site for Muslims.


Islamic group protesters gathered in Nasirnagar in protest and demanded the death of this young man who was hurting religious sentiments.  The young man denied sharing this post and the police arrested him.  However, this did not quell the angry mobs who were given permission to gather repeatedly. They gathered and used mosque loudspeakers to gather more and more people. They attacked Hindu people with sharp weapons including Hindu priests, burned down Hindu homes in the Brahmanbaria district of Eastern Bangladesh temples and idolatries were broken down throughout many parts of Bangladesh from Nasirnagar to Chattak.  It is reminiscent of 2012 when 25000 Muslim rioters burned Buddhist temples. It has been reported that the current and ongoing attacks in Hindu homes and Hindu temples has seen over 17 temples and 100 homes burned across Bangladesh. Some claim it is as much as 300 homes.


The shocking part for me was the news that a Minister allegedly reacted to this young man by publicly saying something equivalent to ‘get those Malauns‘. I have not read that report however I have read many media defending the Minister  stating that members of the Awami League ( Ruling party in Bangladesh) had stated that it is perhaps a word he used in private not in public. I have also read reports of the Minister stating ‘I will resign if anyone can prove I have said Malaun‘.  I believed this Minister has said this and in protest of this ongoing attacks on Hindu population in Bangladesh I changed my profile ID to a slogan ‘Ami Malaun‘, meaning I am a malaun in support of friends, brothers sisters of Bangladeshi origin who have been subject to these atrocious and this slur word throughout their lifetime.  Since then another thing that has happened is that I have had unsolicited approach from unknown people (who were on my face book list but not known to me personally) telling me to ‘Take it off’ and that I ‘should be mature about it’. On seeing the same message on my ID, I replied there that it was in protest of what the Minister allegedly said and even if he didn’t it was in support of this ongoing hatred against the decreasing Hindu population of Bangladesh since 1975. However I continued to get private in-box messages that were ‘educating me’ from the same individual and others who were asking me if I knew what Malaun meant and that I should take it down without asking my reasons for putting it up in the first place.


Religious persecution following the comments of Minister of animal well-being, who called Hindus as 'malaun'. Source Ajanta Deb Roy

Religious persecution following the comments of Minister of animal well-being, who called Hindus as ‘malaun’. Source Ajanta Deb Roy










As a human being,  I felt it was utterly disrespectful the tone and manner of ‘educating’ me. As a mother of three, two that are teenagers and as an educated individual, I found it alarming, surprising and patronising. As a woman I knew that a large male population feel that they are entitled to educate the woman,  the lesser being,  in this patronising manner.


If I was approached respectfully I would have had the mindset to communicate the following:

The word Malaun is a term derived from Arabic which means ‘accursed’  or ‘deprived of God’s mercy’.  It is commonly used by Bangladeshi Muslims and Muslims of Bengal to ethnically slur a Hindu.  If this is said by a Minister of a Country, be it in a slip of tongue or to incite violence then it must be protested.


There are some who suggest that this is a manipulation by the current government in order to create tensions and communal violence, while it flies over my head why any government would do that we should remember that attacks on minorities in South Asian countries are not unknown and religious sentiments are incensed to provoke atrocities on minorities. In Bangladesh Hindus are the second largest religion although only 8% of the population. Further please recall the communal violence that has a history of thousands of years in these countries.


Initially the invaders brought trade and the spread of Islam to Hindu and Buddhist region, not to mention the other tribal religions that existed and still exist in those regions.  Then invasion in a  the temples of Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh when Mahmud of Ghazni came down the Indus plains from Afghanistan and plundered Hindu temples of  gold jewellery and money. By 1024 he  returned and went all the way to somnaath, now known as Gujrat and plundered more with feeble resistance from Hindus who thought that the lord Shiva had punished them. According to historians 50,000 Hindus were killed and temples were destroyed to the ground.  Then came the Muizzu’Din of Turkey in 12th century and the Delhi sultanate in the 13th century and Tughluqs in the 14th, and Timur in 1398 who is said to have seen 5 million deaths. Other names not to forget in Bengal is Alauddin Khilji the early 13th century and Hazrat Shahjalal from Delhi who arrived in Sylhet in 1303 with 360 disciples. A dispute with Gaur Gabindh created a fight which he won. The tensions continued in the Mughal era being the descendants of Timur and Genghis Khan. It was the 16th century Akber the Great who brought a long and ushered Golden Age. He married a Hindu princess and appointed Hindu ministers and this golden era was somewhat undone by Aurangazeb 1658- 1707.  However, even during these times Hindus and the growing Muslim population managed to live, on the whole, harmoniously. It is reported by Indian psychoanalyst and author Sudhir Kakur that ‘It was a multicultural co-existence rather than any merger into a single, composite culture.’  I explain that as Hindus and Muslims and Buddhists and other religions were getting along with each other and accepting each others ethnic similarities and their religious differences.


The modern violence and it must be said that no other violence that flared up was the one that did during the British rule in India.  Despite of Mahatma Ghandi’s attempt to unite, the demand to split up Pakistan and India on the basis of religion from Mohammed Ali Jinnah giving it a two state solution was never a solution as communal violence continued between India and Pakistan. What more West Pakistan  which was over a 10000 miles away from East Pakistan and very intolerant and non accepting of Bengali people who were culturally linguistically different. Bengali’s had a history and language of thousands of years and thus were not ‘Muslim’ enough and not clean enough for the rulers of Pakistan based on religion. This was the backdrop of the independence of East Pakistan which is now Bangladesh.


The point of this extremely brief history is that this attitude has not changed. Generation after generation an inherent ignorance and hatred of each others’ religion has continued. The same loot and attacks over religious rhetoric. It is astonishing that large groups are given permission to gather in this way in full knowledge of communal violence of south Asia and which is increasingly happening in Bangladesh. A Hindu person commented that even in 1971 Nasirnagar was a safe place for Hindus.


It is the responsibility of the leaders of a nation to change this rhetoric and to change this scene and to change it now. It does not happen overnight but the permission to gather over communal rows must be stopped. It is despicable that a Minister is implicated in all this and that is why whether he said it or not he should resign. The use of slurring word such as ‘malaun’  must be banned and a fine imposed so that eventually people learn to live within the law.


History of other developed nations has demonstrated that within time peoples attitudes and vision change. Allowing communal tensions to fester and giving in to violence is an easy and an extremely dangerous option which is hovering over the head of every Bangladeshi person especially Hindus.


For a country that prides in its secular democratic vision, in practice very little is done to bring about unity and cohesion and tolerance in Bangladesh. A successful nation is one where it is fine to be different. Every evil in the Human world seems to stem from the intolerance of difference which often renders injustice to the minorities. When it is truly learned in Bangladesh that progressive nations work toward harmony though allowing everyone to live under the rule of Law with their own beliefs and with equal dignity.




The author is a solicitor, a women’s rights activists and a member of community women’s blog who speak for the rights of all community women and men.


Report on My Bangladesh visit in March 2016

Pushpita Gupta

I am the Co-founder and President of the pressure group called the Secular Bangladesh Movement UK(SBMUK). In December 2015, I was also elected President of the Campaign for the Protection of Religious Minorities in Bangladesh (CPRMB).

In March 2016, I visited Bangladesh on a fact finding trip to see for myself the victims of the atrocities committed against Hindu minority community. During my tour of the country, I visited a number of places to better understand the recent situation of Hindu minorities and victims tortured in the name of religion. This report provides a detailed description of my tour and will give an insight about the current difficult situation faced by the Hindu community.

My trip was jointly supported by the SBMUK and CPRMB who covered the expenses of all travel and modes of transport.


Background, political context

Bangladesh is a country where the majority 90% of the population follow the Muslim faith. After the partition of India in 1947,the Hindu population became an endangered community in their motherland, Bangladesh. Through time and changing political situations, pressure on this community has accelerated at an increasing rate.

During the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971, Hindus were one of the main targets of the killing and rape by the Pakistani military and their local militias, simply because of being a Hindu. After independence of Bangladesh in 1971, the percentage continued to dwindle with time through persecution and oppression on a mass scale. Only for the reason of religion, the community has faced large scale brutal attacks by Islamist fanatics in 1991-1992, 2001-2002. Atrocities include murder, rape of women and children, forcefully acquiring Hindu property, destruction of religious idol and temple.

Current context

In recent years, with the rise of Islamism, atrocities against Hindu minority community has increased to an ever more alarming rate. In the last 12 months alone, people have been murdered, raped and forced to leave their property and leave the country becoming refugees in neighbouring countries.

It should be mentioned with the secular government led by Awami League that came to power in 2008 and the formation of International War Crimes Tribunal in 2010 the attacks on Hindu minority has increased. Amnesty International in its 2013 report said, ‘The attacks come in the context of large scale violent protests that have been raging across Bangladesh for weeks over the country’s ongoing war crimes tribunal, the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT).’

Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh Researcher at the time said, “The Hindu community in Bangladesh is at extreme risk, in particular at such a tense time in the country. It is shocking that they appear to be targeted simply for their religion. The authorities must ensure that they receive the protection they need. (Amnesty International:2013)

Human Rights Watch in its World Report 2015: Bangladesh stated, Supporters of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and the Jamaat-e-Islami party threw petrol bombs to enforce strikes and economic blockades. Before and after the election (referring to 2014 election), attackers also vandalized homes and shops owned by members of Bangladesh’s Hindu and Christian communities. (HRW:2015)

This trend seems to be continuing as Bob Blackman MP, Chair of All Party Parliamentary Group on British Hindus observed in a debate at the House of Commons on 8 Sept 2016. He said the widespread and persistent violations of human rights and the persecution of minority religious groups—Hindus, Christians, Buddhists and other tribal communities in Bangladesh—by the extremist armed groups are deeply worrying to all concerned within the country and in this country.

In late September and early October 2015 two foreign nationals were shot and killed. Since then and as recently as July 2016, attacks against religious minority groups including the Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Shia and Ahmadiyya communities, have killed several people and injured many more. Previous methods of attack have included crude explosives, grenades, shootings and knife attacks.


The trip

I went to Bangladesh on 28thMarch, 2016 for a three week visit, returning to the UK on 19th April 2016. In this period, I had visited different places of Bangladesh with a high ratio of minority attacks and families, who had faced atrocity.

Whilst in Bangladesh, SBMUK and the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (BHBCUC) provided support for me to visit different places and they made arrangement for various local facilities.

Places Visited


The following table chronicles the tour:

Place Date of visit Incident
Feni  is a district located in the South-Eastern part of Bangladesh 3rd April,2016 A Rabindra Das and his family was asked to give money by the neighbouring Muslim family for permission to celebrate the Hindu festival of Lakshmi Puja. When Mr Das refused to give money, the Muslim family attacked on 29th October 2015, the day of Lakshmi Puja. At one point Mr Das’s wife Tulsi Rani Das, who was 5 months pregnant came to protect her husband and was beaten up badly. As a result she lost her unborn baby. Doctors said she might not be able to have a baby in future. After the incident Tulsi has become mentally traumatised.
Jhinaidha, a southern district of Bangladesh 4th April,2016 This is an incident of property grabbing.  One Hindu community’s fishing area has been forcefully grabbed by a powerful local Muslim family. Mr Nikhil Dutt is one of the Malos (fishermen) who is losing his traditional profession of farming and catching fish in the local water bodies of Maheshpur Kathgora Baor. The Hindu family went to court and got the verdict in their favour, but are still being restricted from fishing there. At least 30 to 40 families depend on this piece of land for their livelihood. They live under threat of losing their land and property, and even their lives are in the hands of the powerful locals who have told them to look for alternative means for surviving. Corrupt people in the local administration are also against the fisherman.
Khulna, Khulna Division  is one of the seven divisions of Bangladesh and is in the south-west of the country. 5th April, 2016 In March 2016,during the local government elections in Bangladesh, Hindu families have been widely tortured for voting their own choice of party by the opponent party. Suvash Das and his family was attacked for voting in favour of the ruling party whose candidate lost. For being in the minority they could not protect themselves. After election violence took place all over the country in 2016, and the Hindu minority community faced extensive damage to homes and businesses.
Habiganj District is in the north-eastern part of Bangladesh 12th April, 2016 On 14th January 2016, Dipali was getting ready to join the religious festival in the nearby temple. Her family members left the house earlier and she was alone at home. By taking this opportunity one of the Muslim neighbours took advantage of the opportunity and came in to the house and raped her. Dipali reported the incident to the police to file a general diary against that person. When that rapist came to know that, he came again on 16th January with few of his friends and was repeatedly raped by the gang, in front of her husband and children who were threatened with weapons.

The main culprit is the younger brother of a local Awami League (ruling party) leader. After the first incident, therapist was caught by the villagers, but his brother came and rescued him. When Dipali went to the police, the rapist came back and raped her again and threatened her family.

District: Sylhet   is  in northeastern Bangladesh 12th April, 2016 A renowned blogger and online activist, Ananta Bijoy Das was hacked to death on his way to office by some Islamist extremists. The incident happened in the middle of the road 12thMay 2015.

I went to their house to see his family and show condolence to them. Ananta’s father is still in shock and unable to come to terms with the family’s loss.

District: Sylhet 12th April, 2016 A 14 year old school girl Poly was teased daily by a local furniture shop worker on her way to school. One day, the man forced himself on her, but fortunately she escaped. She let her family and school know about the incident as she stopped going to school. Her uncle, Biplop confronted the man and requested him to stop harassing his niece. After couple of days, the owner of the furniture shop called her uncle Biplop to see him. Biplop went to talk but the shop owner and the furniture shop worker stabbed him. Polly’s uncle Biplop later died in hospital. He was newly married.

After the death of Biplop, Poly and her family started getting threats constantly and had to flee from their home and are in hiding in a rural area.

Pabnais a district in north-western Bangladesh 15th April, 2016 In Pabna, Papri was locking up to go next door where the rest of the family where attending a religious musical programme. Papri was the last to leave and whilst she was locking up, she was attacked by three men and dragged to the nearby jungle where she was gang raped. Student of Edward’s College in Pabna, Papri has not attended class since the incident.
Bograis a northern district of Bangladesh 15th April, 2016 Suchi, a 20 year old newly married lady went to a religious festival with her husband. They were taunted by a few local Muslim men. When her husband protested and asked the men to stop, he was stabbed and killed on the spot.

With the main source of income for the family taken away, Suchi has to now support her elderly mother-in-law and her blind father-in-law.

Suchi was only married for 18 days after only knowing her husband for the past 4 years.



In all cases, the perpetrators were known and their crimes were reported to the police, yet no charges have been filed.

Community leaders and local police officers are handling the cases of rape, but assailants generally buy their way out of the charges.

As a result, the entire community has been terrorised and feels very insecure. The minority community is not seeing any active role by the political parties or the government to find solutions to these problems that the religious minority of Bangladesh are facing.

In addition, with the rise of Islamist radicalisation in Bangladeshit has caused a mass migration of Bangladeshi minority communities, including Hindus, Christians and Buddhists, who believe their lives are in danger as non-Muslims.

The global community has a stake in engaging with Bangladesh to combat religious extremism, which is a serious threat to Bangladesh as well as others in the age of globalisation.


I would like to remind Bangladesh Awami League of their 2014 election manifesto which stated that the religious rights of every people would be ensured and the state would treat equally with every citizen irrespective of their religion, culture, gender and social status.

With that in mind I would like suggest perpetrators of minority atrocities are brought to justice, specific laws are enacted for the protection of minorities, such as minority protection act, and for the protection of places of worship. A minority rights commission should be created to safeguard the rights of minorities.

I would also like to appeal to the UK Government to give careful consideration to minorities who are already in United Kingdom and have applied for asylum on the basis that they are seeking refugee status for their protection.



Blackman, B (2016) Bangladesh Religious Minorities, London, House of Commons

Faiz, A (2013) Bangladesh: Wave of violent attack against Hindu minority, London, Amnesty International

Human Rights Watch (2015) World Report 2015: Bangladesh, New York, HRW