CoHNA (Coalition of Hindus of North America) is disturbed by and condemns the current spate of violent attacks against the Hindu community in Bangladesh. The past week has seen multiple and sustained attacks in the country against followers of its small minority faith. Several ancient Hindu temples have been attacked and their sacred artifacts vandalized. Islamist mobs have targetted entire Hindu villages, as well Hindu homes and businesses in multiple districts of the country, with more than 11 killed in the violence so far.

It is especially tragic, but not surprising, that these attacks come while the country is marking its 50th year of independence- and honoring the millions of Bengali Hindus who perished in the 1971 genocide directed by the Pakistani Army-against what was then its own citizenry in the former East Pakistan. Each year, Bangladesh marks March 25 as Genocide Day in memory of horrors inflicted by the Pakistani forces in 1971; yet, the ugly scenes of mob violence and institutional indifference we are seeing this year closely mirror the the Islamist violence which targeted Bengali Hindus a half century ago.

Political differences and demonstrations are no reason to attack and intimidate minority communities. We urge the Government of Bangladesh to ensure that the rights of its religious minority – their freedom of faith, and the capability to carry out sacred rituals be protected, along with their property, livelihood and other assets.

We also call upon US and Canadian lawmakers to take note and condemn such violence and acts against the minority Hindu community in Bangladesh.