It is sad that members of different faith communities are being attacked in Bangladesh. Whoever is doing it should be brought to justice, and whoever is lying about who is doing it should be brought to account. At a time when attention should be on 1) the illegitimacy of the current government, and 2) the governing party's endgame plans with its opposition (annihilation), what looks like a well greased "human rights offensive" is being mounted to exploit and make suffering for religious minorities. It is an old game in which the more biased human rights agencies, media folk and allied academic supporters are well experienced.
Jamaat e Islami, are of course the designated accused, almost instinctively by the press in Bangladesh and the human rights industry, of being responsible. This accusation requires little or no evidence, but then when have you ever needed decent, or in fact any, evidence to confirm your view of this political party and the larger social body of Islamic expression? The party has denied responsibility, called for an international inquiry and stated it will take measures if any of their members are actually found to be involved.
These accusations are similar to those that Sultana Kamal, head of the now very disreputable human rights organisation Ain O Salish Kendra, has been making since the Shahbag was begun in February. Her repeated refrain was that Jamat were killing and attacking the Hindu community 'just like they did in 1971'.
Party activists responded with support sit ins outside Hindu temples, but because of our brothers and sisters of the Shahbag, this was easily dismissed.
I remember that Hefazot even inserted a "protection of dignity and property of minority faiths" as the 13th point to challenge this smear. However nobody cared to point this out as they were too busy beating the drums of war to destroy them.
There are tacit signals, loud if you can read the code, as well as pretty solid evidence that Bangladesh's self-styled secularists are no protectors of minorities. Its a despicable game and testimony to the magnitude of the Awami Liararchy and dustbin politics of "civil society".
With their media outlets banned and personnel denied the right of audience, internationally and nationally, newer kinds of voices have tried to fill the gap, scrutinize media representations and take the initiative back.
One dedicated blog, to add to your range of sources, tries to take an evidenced based approach. Please take a look, I pray that we can see the world for what it really is. Over the past few days, people have increasingly done so. For example, an insightful blogger (OO), pointed out something dubious in a Prothom Alo image of voters below.
However, there is are important barriers here, the dinner table and the cocktail party tests in Bangladesh and beyond.
The Judaisation of Jamat e Islam
Any coverage of the mere possibility of non JI and non BNP involvement in these crimes is usually accompanied by The Standard Equipartition of Blame Statement. When I say Judaised, I do not mean in a good way ( long traditions of religious scholarship, family values) but in the way that a group can be portrayed as alien scheming bastards and the root of all of society's problems. Whether you are a 1971 bereaved power elite is immaterial to this, it is wrong, foolish and harmful.
We only have to listen to the language of people to sense this Judaisation. I do not use the term denigration (from Negro) on purpose. This is because Bangladeshi secular liberal nationalists and their allies tend to run on a singular and exclusive national idea that have more in common with the hindutva BJP narrative, of Islam is an alien imposition to Bangali culture, and have a superiority complex regarding the civilisational contributions of Black people for some reason.
The fascistic drum of the Shahbag movement made this situation even worse lately. Now doubt JI's historical decisions have had a hand in the production of the hatred too, such as electing GA as leader, not giving a shit enough to explain themselves well, and making that alliance with Hasina in 1994 to shoo the issue away. However, the younger and non decision-making generation are not responsible for any of that and they are the ones being dehumanised, detained, brutalised and killed. (Another side to this are the common allegations of violence, which I'm sure aren't all concocted nor without provocation. I do not advocate angel theory)
If I had grown up in desh, there is a fair chance that I would have tried to join Shibir, at least for a while. If not that, I would have many of the softer bookish types as my close friends because, they care about Islam without politically castrating its political imaginary. I pray for their guidance and safety, and hope that they document their experiences well.
You will struggle to find a public voice outside the party that will defend the rights of Jamaat people in situations like these, though sometimes a random blogger, who is not interested in their career will write a corker like this.
A few days ago I heard that an elderly English literature professor-type leader of Jamaat Nazir Ahmed died a the shock of being picked up by police. Last month there was the terrible case of the Jamat amir, a medical doctor taken to the roof of his house shot and thrown to the ground, and the truth of the government's Israel style operation in Satkhira is yet to emerge.
The mass and arbitrary detentions of members of this party, not to mention what the BNP is going through, are important to protest intelligently and to humanise. So much has gone on to dehumanise and we need to hear more from their families, whistle blowers and support them, whoever they are.
Decolonial Duas to all people who fear unjust arrest, detention or worse at any time.