November 9, 2016

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Defamatory Posts on Social Media Incite Hatred Against Indigenous Peoples

In Bangladesh’s Southeastern Khagrachari District, a man was arrested for posting a fake photo of Mr Kunentu Chakma, General Secretary of Pahari Chhatra Parishad’s Rangamati unit. The photo contained a provocative statement, suggesting that the latter was deameaning the Qu’ran. Khagrachari locals state that this fake photo – which, apparently, went viral on Social Media – was inciting communal attacks on the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Despite the arrest of the culprit, Mr Md Sagor Hossain, the photo continues to be shared on Facebook, creating a rise in tension and fear among the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

 

Below is an article posted by the Dhaka Tribune:

Md Sagor Hossain was arrested in Khagrachhari for posting a fake photo and a provocative statement regarding an indigenous student leader

Police have arrested a youth in Khagrachhari for posting a false statement and a fake photo inciting communal attack saying an indigenous student leader demeaned the Qur’an.

Md Sagor Hossain, a leader of BNP’s student wing Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, was arrested Wednesday from Khagrachhari, Superintendent of Police Md Mozid Ali confirmed to the Dhaka Tribune.

The SP, however, declined to comment when asked whether they arrested the person voluntarily or after receiving a complaint. “We are investigating the issue. Filing of a case is under process,” he said.

On the other hand, the Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of the DMP and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) are working to find out the source of a Facebook post that incited the communal attacks in Nasirnagar of Brahmanbaria and Madhabpur in Habiganj on Sunday.

The attacks were similar to that on the Buddhist community in Cox’s Bazar in 2012, which was also sparked by a fake Facebook post.

On Tuesday, many Facebook users saw a similar post by Md Sagor, who used a photo of a person to claim that it was Pahari Chhatra Parishad’s Rangamati unit General Secretary Kunentu Chakma sitting on a Qur’an. He posted the photo in a Facebook group named “Adhare Dwiner Aalo (Sinan)” at 1:19pm the same day.

Kunentu is the president of PCP, Rangamati unit which is backed by the United Peoples Democratic Front.

Learning about the photo that went viral apparently because of the communal tension in Brahmanbaria, Khagrachhari locals said such a fake photo could have invited communal attacks on the indigenous peoples in the Chittagong Hill Tracts – a home of at least 13 indigenous communities.

The picture was originally posted in an Indonesian news portal called www.lihat.co.id.

When contacted, Kunentu told the Dhaka Tribune: I do not know this Sagor and I am now concerned about my security. I believe his aim was to create tension here.

“I saw the post around 5am today [2 November 2016] after people started calling me. Later I informed an officer named Nahid Hossain Bablu of Manikchhari police station seeking assistance.”

Kunentu, however, said that he was yet to submit a written application to the police station in this regard as he was staying in a remote place.

Even though Sagor is arrested, it was later found that the same photo with the same statement was being shared from another Facebook profile called Najmul Hossain Hridoy. SP Mozid said that they did not have such information.