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ARTICLE 19 condemns exhumation of 3-day-old Ahmadiyya infant’s body

The incident is a manifestation of the growing culture of intolerance towards minorities in the country, says the organization

ARTICLE 19 has condemned the disrespectful exhuming and dumping of the body of an infant of the Ahmadiyya community on the streets in Brahmanbaria.

The exhumation of the three-day-old baby’s dead body is a manifestation of a growing culture of intolerance and oppression towards minorities existing in the country, said the United Kingdom (UK) based human rights organization in a statement.

Such a crude act—carried out because the child belonged to a minority group—by local religious leaders is complete disregard for rule of law and the secular values of this country, said ARTICLE 19.

The human rights body called on the concerned authorities to identify the perpetrators involved in the exhuming of the dead body and to bring them under the law.

In the press release, Faruq Faisel, the regional director for ARTICLE 19, Bangladesh and South Asia, said: “People of the Ahmadiyya community have been the victims of attacks and social harassment in different districts of Bangladesh for the last few decades. 

“Their places of worship and homes are being attacked only because of their creed and beliefs,” he added.

“However, Article 28 of the Constitution of Bangladesh assures that the state will not discriminate against anyone based on religious identity. Article 41 of the Constitution also entitles every citizen with the right to profess, practice, or propagate any religion,” Faruq said. 

If the authorities had taken appropriate action, these hate-driven religious attacks and torture would not have happened, he added.

Ahmadiyya infant’s body exhumed, left by the road in Brahmanbaria

According to media reports, a baby girl belonging to the Ahmadiyya community was born on July 7, 2020, at a local hospital in Brahmanbaria. The infant died on July 9 due to various complications following its premature birth. 

On the same day, the infant’s family buried the body at the local government cemetery in Ghatura village of Suhilpur union under the Sadar upazila. 

Soon after the burial, some moulvis (religious scholars) called their followers using the megaphones of local mosques, and initiated a gathering of some anti-Ahmadiyya youths. 

They later exhumed the body and threw it on the road. 

After learning of the incident, police came to the spot but did not take any action against those involved in the incident. Instead, they reburied the body of the child at the designated graveyard for the Ahmadiyya community. 

No one has lodged a formal complaint with the concerned police station as of July 11.

In this regard, Faruq Faisel said: “In 2011, two resolutions were unanimously adopted by member states in the UN Human Rights Council (16/18) and the General Assembly (66/167) on the protection of religious minorities, and combating hatred, intolerance, discrimination and violence based on religion or belief.”

Bangladesh has a moral obligation to keep these international promises, he said, adding that law enforcement and local administration, therefore, cannot avoid the responsibility of taking self-motivated action in this case. 

ARTICLE 19, in their statement, called upon the concerned authorities to take action by identifying the perpetrators involved in the exhuming of the infant.

They also asked the authorities to ensure the protection of religious minorities and their right to practice their religion without any hindrance. 

Such acts of crime without punishment leads to the lack of accountability and further perpetuates a state of lawlessness hindering an inclusive society. 

ARTICLE 19 hoped that actions will be taken to bring justice to the family and the wrongdoers will be held accountable.

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