Tuesday 22nd Jan 2019
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New York Muslims Rally against Impending Civil War in Bangladesh

Report

, by SHAIK BAJABAR

Thousands of Muslims gathered in the Times Square, New York on 13 April to bring attention to the wide scale abuse of human rights in Bangladesh and to avert an impending civil war. The rally extended for 5 blocks and most of the participants were from Bangladesh.

The gathering was addressed by many national and local leaders representing all the major Muslim organisations and ethnicities in the US.

Imam Ayub Baqi, the chair of the justice committee of the umbrella organisation of the New York area Muslims, The Islamic Leadership Council of New York and the Council’s former president, Imam Abdul Latif Al-Amin, both leaders of civil rights struggle for African-Americans drew parallel from that struggle.

Nihad Awad, the national executive director of Council on American Islamic Relations, pointed out that the war crimes tribunal’s workings are proven to be tainted with outside influence but still the tribunal meted out death penalties. He declared that CAIR stands against such blatant injustice.  Naeem Baig, the national president of ICNA, expressed his solidarity with the struggle for justice of the Bangladesh masses.  Abu Nooruz Zaman and Imam Delwar Husain spoke on behalf of Muslim Ummah of North America. They urged the participants to get involved in strategic advocacy in the US and educate the opinion makers and policy makers of America about the destruction of democracy in Bangladesh at the hands of the current government. 

Shahana Masum Ali, the coordinator for Bangladesh Development and Women’s Rights, spoke about the persecution of the women by the current Bangladeshi government. She demanded an immediate end to this persecution. Dr. Shaik Ubaid, the co-chair of Muslim Peace Coalition USA, said that destablisation of Bangladesh will destablise the region. He urged the Bangladeshis to protect the Hindu minority. He pushed for a truth and reconciliation commission to heal the country from attacks on democracy and rule of law by the Bangladeshi government and ask them to use the US leverage to reverse the undemocratic actions. 

Among the more than 30 speakers representing tens of different organisations were many Bangladeshi-American leaders, imams and youth representatives. Arab American representatives, a few politicians and a representative of the Rohingyas, the most persecuted people in the world who live in the neighbouring Burma also addressed the rally. Many speakers alluded to the violent crackdown on the media and demanded immediate release of imprisoned journalists, especially Mahmudur Rahman. Abdul Aziz Bhuyan asked the participants to call Ms. Marie Orler at 212-963-1293 and tell her ”not to recruit Police from Bangladesh on Peacekeeping forces who is terrorising their own citizens in Bangladesh”.

Earlier the rally was commenced with the opening remarks of Mubashir Ahmed, the national coordinator of Americans United for Human Rights, who demanded an immediate end to the police crackdown on peaceful protesters and for the death sentences to be vacated.

All the speakers demanded a new and fair international war crimes tribunal and a resolution was approved unanimously by the enthusiastic crowds who had come from the tri-state area, many on more than 40 buses that were rented by different organisations.

The gathering also demanded the Bangladesh government to:

Cease crackdown on peaceful rallies in Bangladesh; Stop the intimidation campaign against independent journalists and opposition politicians; Release all the journalists who are in jails immediately, particularly Mr. Mahmudur Rahman, editor of the daily newspaper, Amar Desh; Disband the present war crimes tribunal which in fact is a kangaroo court; Establish a truly independent international tribunal against war crimes to provide justice for both Bengali and Bihari victims and to punish perpetrators from all sides; Vacate the death penalty given to opposition leaders and Islamic scholars by the kangaroo court; Set up a truth and reconciliation commission so that the great nation of Bangladesh can start the healing process and then move forward; and Form an independent commission to investigate the murder and arson that took place in the last few months including against Bangladeshi Hindus and the peaceful protesters, and prosecute the perpetrators including those belonging to the law enforcement agencies.

The gathering also urged the Obama administration of the United States to force Bangladesh government to follow the rule of law and appoint a new and true international war crimes tribunal as it was done for Bosnia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone by the UN. Justice must be rendered to all the victims. Furthermore, a truth and reconciliation commission be established to start the healing process in Bangladesh.



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