Religious freedom worsening in Bangladesh, across South Asia: US report
The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has expressed deep concerns about the worsening religious freedom conditions in Bangladesh and other South Asian countries.
In its annual report released on April 25, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said it has long noted deteriorating religious freedom across South Asia, and that trend persisted in 2021.
"In addition to its recommendations to designate Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan as CPSs [countries of particular concern], USCIRF is deeply concerned about worsening religious freedom conditions in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives," the report said.
It said in Bangladesh, communal violence erupted in October during Durga Puja festivities. The weeklong wave of violence led to widespread attacks on the Hindu community and its places of worship despite government efforts to contain violence.
The report also said that the Bangladesh government continued to leave refugees, predominantly Rohingya Muslims, in untenable conditions, closing schools and moving some of them to the remote island of Bhashan Char.
Bangladesh government says that the relocation of Rohingyas to Bhashan Char is meant to ease the congestion in Cox's Bazar camps, address some of the security concerns and criminal activities. The Bhashan Char facility is also much better and secure.
During the visit of US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom to Bangladesh, Rashad Hussain, said people of all faiths in Bangladesh by and large live together peacefully, but "outsiders" sometimes try to create divisions and conflicts.
He suggested that the law enforcers investigate those who create conflicts. He also assured that the US would work with Bangladesh to promote religious freedom.
Rashad Hussain also suggested that the Rohingyas are provided scopes for education and livelihoods.