Oct 04, 2019

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Indigenous Buddhists Become Latest Victims of Religious Discrimination in Bangladesh

In recent years, Bangladesh has witnessed an alarming increase in religious discrimination against the Buddhist community. In Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), one of the country’s poorest regions, indigenous Buddhists have become the latest victim of religious discrimination. According to reports, the Buddhist community of CHT has been subject to land grabbing and mass Muslim migration due to their faith in Muslim-majority Bangladesh. Chittagong Hill Tracts is home to the indigenous Jumma populations, who for decades have been seeking to protect their cultural, linguistic, and human rights.

The article below was published by Modern Tokyo Times:

In August this year, a Buddhist monk was found with his throat cut in Bangladesh. This happened after the Buddhist monk, Venerable Amritananda Bhikkhu, had travelled to Dhaka in order to obtain a visa. However, he never made it back home because sadly he was found with his throat cut after being dumped.

The Buddhistdoor reports, “Buddhists and human rights activists in Bangladesh formed human chains and protest rallies in different parts of the country, demanding the immediate arrest and punishment of the killers of Venerable Amritananda, the vice-principle of Gyanaratna Buddhist Monastery in Feni District in southeastern Bangladesh.”

The Vice-President of the Buddhist Aid Foundation, the Venerable Buddhananda, pointedly said, “Attack on the Buddhist community is a matter of great sorrow as Bangladesh is a secular country and so is the incumbent government.”

Three years ago, the BBC reported on another brutal murder of an elderly Buddhist monk by Sunni Islamists. The BBC stipulated, “Police in Bangladesh say a 75-year-old Buddhist monk has been hacked to death in the south-eastern district of Bandarban.”

Indeed, earlier in the same year a holy Hindu priest was founded beheaded in the northern part of Bangladesh. Hence, one can only imagine the utter fear and pain that these innocents faced.

The Dhaka Tribune in 2017 reports, “At least 107 people of the Hindu community were killed and 31 fell victims to enforced disappearance in 2017, which are higher than previous year’s figures, claimed Bangladesh Jatiya Hindu Mohajote (BJHM) on Saturday.”

Overall, it is clear that Islamists and ordinary Muslims in Bangladesh are targeting Buddhists, Hindus, and other religious minorities. Of course, each case is different. For example, Islamists who follow a brutal Sunni Takfiri Islamist ideology kill Buddhist monks and Hindu priests.

Other attacks are based on the notion of “infidels” being deemed inferior according to the Hadiths and Sharia Islamic law. Similarly, in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the mainly indigenous Buddhists (some follow Christianity, Hinduism, and other faiths) fear endless Bengali Muslim migration and a land grab against non-Muslims. Therefore, the international community needs to speak out and condemn the countless killings, rapes, property theft, attacks against non-Muslim holy places, and other ills aimed at non-Muslims that are mainly hidden from the outside world.


Photo Courtesy: Modern Tokyo Times