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Bangladesh: The spirit of the Liberation War vs the anti-liberation forces

Monday 26 June 2017, by siawi3

Source: http://annx.asianews.network/content/bangladesh-rights-groups-condemn-islamists-hefajat-47545

5 Jun 2017 12:41

Bangladesh: Rights groups condemn Islamists Hefajat

by News Desk

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - Protests have sparked from progressive quarters after Islamists have demanded punishment of a rights activist.

Rights groups and cultural activists have strongly condemned Hefajat-e Islam’s ultimatum that Sultana Kamal must be arrested or forced out of the country for what they claim was her derogatory comment about mosques, something the rights activist denied.

They also demanded that the government ensure security for Sultana, also a former caretaker government adviser.

From a rally in front of Baitul Mukarram Mosque in the capital on Friday, Hefajat leaders gave an ultimatum to the government to arrest Sultana within 24 hours or else send her into exile.

Rights activists said the threat was in violation of her constitutional right to freedom of speech.

Hefajat’s threat came after a recent television talk show, now available on YouTube.

Hosted by Dhaka University teacher Robaet Ferdous, the programme was participated by Sultana Kamal, Hefajat leader Mufti Shakhawat Hossain, Gonojagoron Mancha Spokesperson Imran H Sarker and former Awami League lawmaker Apu Ukil.

At the talk show Shakhawat, referring to the statue of Lady Justice on the Supreme Court premises, said there should be no religious structures on court premises, Sultana told The Daily Star on Friday.

"I said, yes, I agree with you. There should be no religious structures inside court premises. Not even mosques," she said.

In a press statement yesterday, rights body Ain o Salish Kendra said Hefajat, a communal organisation, issued the threat misinterpreting Sultana Kamal’s comment.

The threat is a clear violation of article 39 of the constitution which guarantees freedom of speech.

ASK demanded the government take quick legal action against those who issued the threat.

Human Rights Forum of Bangladesh, an alliance of 17 rights organisations, issued a similar statement on Saturday.

The spirit of the Liberation War and people’s dream of democratic progress will be shattered if such threats are tolerated, it said.

Separately, 10 cultural activists and Liberation War researchers condemned Hefajat’s threat in a statement yesterday.

Freedom Fighter Sultana Kamal is uncompromising in her fight against injustice. Recently, her comment about the sculpture has been distorted intentionally and circulated in different social media platforms, the statement said.

“It is our moral duty to stand by persons like Sultana Kamal. It’s because they stand against injustice and wrongdoing. They are vocal against the anti-liberation forces and talk for social and cultural activities and environment.

“Bangladesh will be defeated if we failed to resist the fundamental and communal forces; the spirit of the Liberation War would be destroyed.”

They called upon the government to arrest those who threatened her.

The statement was issued by Syed Hasan Imam, Ramendu Mazumder, Nasir Uddin Yousuff, Ferdousi Mazumder, Mamunur Rashid, Ataur Rahman, Inamul Haque, Mofidul Hoque, Shimul Yousuf and Mannan Hira.

FRESH THREAT

The Chittagong city unit of Hefajat issued a fresh a threat yesterday, saying Sultana Kamal would not be allowed in Chittagong if she did not apologise for her “derogatory remarks,” says a press release.

At an iftar party at Darul Arkam Madrasa in the port city, Moinuddin Ruhi, joint general secretary of Hefajat’s central committee, said, “Sultana Kamal has to offer an apology to the nation. Or she won’t be allowed in Chittagong like Imran H Sarker.”

The statement further quoted Ruhi as saying, “Dhaka is known as a city of mosque while Kolkata is known as a city of idol. If she [Sultana] does not like the city of mosque, we have no problem if she moves to the city of idol.”

In March 2013, Gonojagoron Mancha demonstrators, including Imran H Sarker, postponed their rally in the port city amid threats from Hefajat and imposition of Section 144 by the district administration there.

Meanwhile, talking to the BBC Bangla yesterday, Sultana said the government long stopped discharging its constitutional duty to provide security to human rights activists.

In the past, these forces (Islamist groups) did not have the courage to threaten someone openly. But they are doing it now.

She said the man who threatened to burn her down in a brick kiln has committed a criminal offence. “Why is he not being arrested? Way is there no action against him?”