Speakers at a discussion yesterday urged the Election Commission (EC) to form a special committee – comprising of law enforcers – to protect minorities from poll-time violence.
Asking political parties to put the security of minorities in their election manifesto, they urged all concerned to ensure a parliament free of anti-Liberation War forces.
They came up with this call at a discussion titled "National Election 2018 and Security of the Minorities", held at Jatiya Press Club. The event was organised by Self-Help Association for Rural People through Education and Entrepreneurship (SHAREE).
“We urge the EC to form a special committee after the announcement of the election schedule to protect minorities from poll-time violence,” said Khandaker Muniruzzaman, acting editor of Dainik Sangbad.
Prof Dr Mesbah Kamal read out a concept paper in which he said the culture of impunity is the major cause behind repeated violation of the rights of minorities.
Social Welfare Minister Rashed Khan Menon said people are becoming “more communal” which is a major concern.
He urged everyone to stay alert against propaganda on social media.
Several victims of post-poll violence narrated how atrocities were carried out upon them after national elections in 2001 and 2014.
Advocate Sultana Kamal said, “We have to be cautious so that the election doesn't become a festival for some and tragedy for others…. when we stand against these [atrocities], we want to see people in the government beside us.”
Claiming that many public representatives did not come to the aid of minorities during attacks in many constituencies, she urged political parties to select right candidates for the election.
“We are not shocked when BNP doesn't ensure justice for attacks on minorities [after the 2001 election]… But how could these incidents take place in 2014 when people who claim to be the pro-liberation force were in power?” she asked.
NHRC Chairman Kazi Reazul Haque said, “Violence against minorities goes up during elections. We all have to remain cautious.”
Advocate Rana Das Gupta demanded that the EC cancel candidacy of those who deliver hate speech against minorities, inciting violence.
Speakers also demanded a separate ministry and commission for minorities and implementation of the Vested Property Return Act immediately.
Editor of the daily Bhorer Kagoj Shyamal Dutta conducted the programme.
Among others, Executive Director of Research Initiatives Bangladesh (RIB) Prof Meghna Guhathakurta and President of Bangladesh Christian Association Nirmol Rozario also spoke at the programme.