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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and others introduce resolution to protect religious minorities in Bangladesh

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Washington, DC:  Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI-02) a member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, introduced a bipartisan resolution calling on the government of Bangladesh to increase human rights protections, strengthen democratic institutions, and prevent the growth of extremist groups in the country. The resolution comes as ISIS and other trans-national radical Islamic groups continue to grow their influence in areas like South Asia. Co-sponsors include Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee Chairman Matt Salmon (R, AZ-05) and Rep. Bob Dold (R, IL-10).
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Tulsi Gabbard. Photo Credit: shoebat.com

In a speech on the House floor introducing the resolution, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard stated, “Bangladesh is a country in turmoil.  There are many concerns about the stability of the country, particularly since flawed elections were held last year, and the political violence that has ensued. I am particularly concerned over issues of religious freedom, and specifically, attacks against minority Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and others, in Bangladesh.  All too often perpetrators of crimes against minorities go unpunished. It’s up to the government of Bangladesh to take action to stop those who incite and commit violence and protect the rights of these minorities. [This resolution] calls on the government of Bangladesh to protect the human rights of all its citizens, particularly its vulnerable minorities, strengthen democratic institutions and rule of law, and prevent the growth of extremist groups.”

“It was an honor to work on this resolution with Rep. Gabbard,” said Congressman Matt Salmon. “In Bangladesh, there is great potential. Through this resolution, we have encouraged Bangladesh to embrace non-violent democratic competition and rule of law, and to shirk political violence and religious extremism. We expect Bangladesh to respect human dignity, honor commitments to freedom of expression and religion, and protect the human rights of all citizens, no matter one’s political disposition, creed, or religion. This resolution reaffirms our dedication to these principles.”
“Religious persecution is on the rise around the world, with 77% of the world’s population now living in countries with high restrictions on religious freedom,” said Congressman Bob Dold. “As the greatest force for human dignity in the world, the United States has an obligation to send the unequivocal message that we will not tolerate countries that fail to protect the fundamental freedoms of all citizens, especially minorities. I am pleased to join with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle calling on the government of Bangladesh to protect the rights of minorities, eliminate violent extremist groups and restore the rule of law.”
Background
Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation in South Asia, is the world’s eighth most populous country in the world. The country’s faltering democratic system  has been subjected to an array of pressures in recent years, including a combination of political violence, corruption, poverty, and increasingly, Islamist militancy. Religious minorities, including Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and Ahmadiyya Muslims, in Bangladesh face high levels of persecution, including the destruction of temples, homes and businesses.

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Vietnam Offering Support to Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh

Sustained aid from nations is necessary to continue WFP operations in Bangladesh, the UN agency warned

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Rohingya Muslims, who crossed over from Myanmar into Bangladesh, wade past a waterlogged path leading to the Jamtoli refugee camp in Ukhiya, Bangladesh. VOA

United Nations World Food Programme in Bangladesh said it welcomed a new contribution of $50,000 from Vietnam to support operations in Coxs Bazar – home to nearly one million Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar.

“We are very grateful to Vietnam for stepping up to assist people living in Cox’s Bazar refugee camps,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative and Country Director, in a statement.

“This remains a serious humanitarian emergency, and continued support from the international community is vital if we are to keep providing the humanitarian assistance that is so badly needed.”

Vietnam’s new aid was announced by the Special Envoy of Prime Minister, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nguyen Quoc Dzung, during a visit to Bangladesh, according to WPF.

“Although this is a modest contribution, we are hopeful that our support will advance the response to this crisis situation,” he said.

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Rohingya women and children are seen at a temporary shelter in the Kalindi Kunj area of New Delhi, India, April 15, 2018. VOA

Vietnam joins dozens of other states who have pledged their support to the Cox’s Bazar response since the August 2017 refugee influx, said WFP, which provides food assistance to more than 870,000 refugees per month at the sprawling refugee settlement.

The UN agency also provides nutritional and livelihood support to the host community at Cox’s Bazaar, with the aim of helping the most vulnerable, WFP said.

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Sustained aid from nations is necessary to continue WFP operations in Bangladesh, the UN agency warned.

Over 750,000 Rohingya refugees have fled to Cox’s Bazar since August 2017 to escape persecution and violence by Myanmar’s military in Northern Rakhine State. Thousands of other Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh during previous periods of repression in Myanmar. (IANS)