Article 19, the UK based international human rights organization, today (17 June) urges Bangladesh government to develop and implement a national Plan of Action to counter hate speech.
Article 19 also stressed the need of promoting inter-religious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance to counter hate speech. The rights-based organization raised the issue on the eve of the observation of the UN "International Day for Countering Hate Speech", which will be marked for the first time on 18 June, 2022, read a media release.
Faruq Faisel, South Asia Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 said, "The exponential spread and proliferation of hate speech is becoming a deep concern in Bangladesh and around the world. Physical and verbal attacks against religious and ethnic minorities are on the rise in Bangladesh due to the influence of hate speech, especially online."
"Bangladesh government has obligations under the Bangladesh constitution and international human rights law to take effective measures to address and combat incidents of racial and religious intolerance, discrimination and related violences. Bangladesh constitution guarantees the freedom of religion, and prohibits communalism, abuse of religion for political purpose, discrimination or favor based on religion (art. 12). The constitution also provides that the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth (art. 28 (1))", he added.
According to a Ain O Salish Kendro report, in Bangladesh, around 3,679 attacks on the Hindu community took place between January 2013 and September, 2021. The attacks included vandalism of and setting fire to 559 houses and 442 shops and businesses. At least 1,678 cases of vandalism and arson attacks on Hindu temples, idols and places of worship have been recorded. While 11 citizens from the Hindu community have died in these incidents, another 862 were injured. Two Hindu women were raped and another four were sexually assaulted, said the media statement.
In October, 2021, at least six people were killed and 100 injured in communal violence and mayhem that took place during the Durga Puja celebrations.
Article 19 urged both the government and citizens to combat hate speech – which is a threat to human rights of the citizens of Bangladesh.