Dear Mr. President Obama,
I am a Bangladeshi-American Hindu. I am currently a dual citizen of Bangladesh & US. I have spent my last 10 years in NY, USA, after immigrating from Bangladesh in 2003.
I am writing this letter to you after I could not hold my emotions anymore. As a Bangladeshi Hindu, I know and have experienced what discrimination, religious persecution actually is. Like me, many more Bangladeshi Hindus have experienced in the past or is currently experiencing religious persecution in Bangladesh solely because they are Hindu minority in a Muslim-majority country. It is not only Hindus who are suffering from decades of persecution, but also Buddhists, Christians experience ongoing persecution.
When Nazis of Germany persecuted Jews in Europe and elsewhere solely because of their religious belief, the world stayed silent until the end of World War II. After that, the international community vowed to help any weak, innocent people who might be endangered of religious persecution. Where did that vow go? Where was the international community in 1971? According to Census of India 1941 and Census of East Pakistan, Bangladesh Government Census, Hindu population in Bangladesh is rapidly declining.
Why am I writing to you now? It is because in the past few weeks, war criminals tribunal in Bangladesh is giving verdicts for razakars (war criminals). When one such war criminal, Abdul Kader Molla received life imprisonment instead of death penalty after brutally killing 344 civilians in 1971, people of various backgrounds, professions came down to the streets of Shahbag protesting against the given sentence. Some even began to call it the 'Bangla Spring', similar to Arab Spring in Tahrir Square. In last week's verdict of another war criminal, Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, the special tribunal sentenced him to death penalty for his involvement in mass killings, rape, atrocities in 1971. It was after then that the Jamaat-Shibir (fundamentalist Islamic party) groups began to terrorize Shahbag mass, others who also sided with the movement and the Hindu-populated areas of Bangladesh.
Those groups burned or demolished Hindu temples, houses, properties in various parts of Bangladesh. They killed, raped, tortured innocent Hindu civilians. They even burned 48 families alive in their homes so that no one could leave. You may ask what is the Bangladeshi government doing about it? Well, as it happened in the past, this time also, the police & other law enforcement agencies are silent viewers of such atrocities. Even Buddhist statues, temples or Christian churches are not spared by those radicals.
When college principals like Gopal Krishna Muhuri were killed in their home by radicals or when free-thinking writers like Humayun Azad were assaulted in broad daylight during an annual Bangla Academy book fair by Islamic fundamentalists or when a 12-years old girl, Purnima, was gang-raped by her neighbors for being a Hindu, we kept quiet. But how much longer?
How much longer will these radicals, extremists test our patience? How many more innocent lives, homes, temples need to be burned or demolished in order for the international community to say that 'it must be stopped'? When will they come to recognize the ongoing minority killings, tortures, rapes in Bangladesh as a genocide or massacre? If we don't act now, then who knows, maybe few years from now, Bangladesh will turn into a fundamentalist Taliban state which can be threatening not just to its own civilians but other countries as well.
When 5 people died in Boston Massacre, it sparked a great deal of grievance among people. But when millions of minorities are dying each year in Bangladesh, it doesn't receive that 'massacre' or 'genocide' recognition. Words don't matter. But what matters is that the international community take some actions to prevent further atrocities. The silence from the international community and media makes those people believe that their lives have no value. Is that really so? Can one human being's life be neglected just because he or she lives in a rural Bangladesh? Is that what UN's human rights tell us to believe?
The reason I am writing to you is because I believe in you. I believed in you when you said "Yes, We Can" in 2008. I urged all my friends and relatives here to vote for you at that time since I wasn't a voter then because we believed that you can change the way things had been running. And you delivered by passing the health care reform bill. I and my family still believed in you which is why we voted for you in 2012 after receiving our US citizenship.
You may say with sequestration and a slowly recovering economy, you may not have enough time to look into foreign issues like this. But can you really turn your face away from those dying, innocent lives? Can an influential person like you keep quiet when innocents are oppressed, terrorized, tortured, raped, killed mercilessly? Don't world leaders like you have any obligation to take action against such ruthlessness?
Living in Martin Luther King Jr.'s land of dream, "I have a dream" too. I dream of a better future for not just America, but for all countries. I dream because America is the land of dreamers. We dream because we still have the 'audacity of hope'. We dream that justice will be served, not just in America, but also in places where justice had been denied. But will our dreams be just dreams or will they ever come true?
A proud citizen of America