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Op-Ed: Why Trump and Netanyahu should help Bangladeshi Hindus

Next month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to visit India.   Shipan Kumer Basu, the President of the World Hindu Struggle Committee, stressed that the 55 million Bangladeshi refugees who are presently being sheltered in India are very excited about this visit, believing that Netanyahu can potentially join forces with Modi in order to help them: “With the arrival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to India, Bangladeshi refugees in India have begun dreaming of returning to Bangladesh. They hope that, with the combined intervention of Benjamin Netanyahu and Narendra Modi, they will be able to return to their homes in Bangladesh, to be able to reclaim their abandoned lands and to live in their homeland once again.” 

Basu reiterated that the present Bangladeshi government is very anti-Israel.  Under Sheikh Hasina’s leadership, Bangladesh and Israel do not share diplomatic relations.   Bangladeshi citizens are barred from traveling to Israel and Israelis cannot visit Bangladesh.  Sheikh Hasina also routinely makes public statements against the Jewish state.  She condemned the US President for moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, accused Israel of violating Palestinian human rights and her ministers routinely spread conspiracy theories against Israel.  In fact, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan even had the audacity to accuse Israel of killing secular bloggers and members of minority faiths in Bangladesh.  In a recent Bangladeshi newspaper article, Mendi Safadi, an Israeli Druze citizen who heads the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights, was even accused of being part of an international conspiracy against Bangladesh and I was accused of being “his lapdog.”  Such anti-Israel conspiracies are typically spread in newspapers originating in undemocratic Muslim majority countries led by tyrants who seek to distract their population from the horrors that they experience on a daily basis.     

However, Basu is hopeful that with Netanyahu’s, Modi’s and Trump’s help, Bangladesh does not need to always be just another non-democratic Muslim majority country.   Unlike many other Muslim dictatorships, Bangladesh was a democracy in the past.  Furthermore, he argued that the sentiment on the Bangladeshi street is not as hostile towards Israel as it used to be.  Basu stressed that democratic elections within his country could lead to the rise of a new leader who will not only respect minority rights but will also establish diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.   According to him, Safadi has been advocating for the establishment of free and fair elections under international supervision across the globe so that the minorities of Bangladesh will be liberated from Sheikh Hasina’s tyranny.  After US President Donald Trump was briefed by Priya Saha on the horrific plight of minorities in Bangladesh, Basu also hopes that the US President will also begin to see the merits of supporting the minorities of Bangladesh and thus will support Safadi’s efforts within the international community.

“Since 1947, the Hindus of Bangladesh have been slowly ethnically cleansed from the country,” Basu declared.  “During the Liberation War of 1971, 10 million Bangladeshi Hindus fled to India.   During Bangladesh’s War of Independence, millions of Hindus were massacred by the Pakistani Army over a period of nine months.  Over the course of the 1971 genocide, Bangladeshi Hindu women and girls were also raped and gang raped en masse.  Many others were forcefully converted to Islam.”  

Although the 1971 genocide is over, Basu emphasized that the oppression against the Hindu minority has not stopped: “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the ISKCON Temple (The International Society for Krishna Consciousness) in Bangladesh a few years ago. Two fundamentalist organizations called Hefazat-e-Islam and the Bangladesh Islamic Movement in Bangladesh have conspired against ISKCON today. With the help of the government, they have been organizing rallies and meetings against peace-loving Hindu religious organizations. Their demand is to ban a peaceful Hindu religious organization called ISKCON in Bangladesh.”  

In addition, Basu noted that Hindus to date have been barred from reclaiming their property that was seized by the Bangladeshi government following the Liberation War of 1971.   Furthermore, he added that Bangladeshi Hindus to date are being murdered, raped, gang raped, abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and having their property seized as the Bangladeshi government turns a blind eye to these atrocities.  For this reason, he fears that Bangladeshi Hindus don’t have a future in their own country unless fresh democratic elections are held under international supervision.  However, he emphasized that Bangladeshi Hindus are no longer willing to sit passively by and accept their horrific fate: “We Hindus are no longer weak.  We will see to it that Sheikh Hasina will pay for her crimes.”      

 

Author

Rachel Avraham
Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights. For 7 years, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Syria, Iran, Kurdistan and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.

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