WASHINGTON, DC: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI-02), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, has 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.
The co-sponsors of the resolution include Asia and the Pacific Subcommittee Chairman Matt Salmon (R, AZ-05) and Rep. Bob Dold (R, IL-10).
In a speech on the House floor introducing the resolution, 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.”
Salmon said in a statement: “It was an honor to work on this resolution with Rep. Gabbard. 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.”
Dold said in a statement: “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. 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.”
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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