UN & West ‘ignoring plight of Buddhists in Bangladesh’

Western states and the UN were yesterday accused of ignoring the alleged persecution of indigenous Buddhist minorities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh.

The criticism came at a press conference in Colombo organized by Bangladeshi Buddhist monks and students studying at various universities and Pirivenas in Sri Lanka.

The monks are also holding peaceful rally and a human chain protest this morning (03) at the Vihara Mahadevi Park to highlight what they called a ‘dangerous’ situation developing in the traditional homeland of Buddhists in Bangladesh.

They called for an immediate halt to the expansion of Bengali Muslim settlements in Buddhist-populated areas in Bangladesh.

Addressing the news conference, Venarable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera called on Buddhists in Sri Lanka and abroad to raise their voice and concern against the communal attacks carried out by extremist settlers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

He pointed out that the Buddhists in CHT were not trying to carve out a separate state in Bangladesh and had not resorted to terrorism to press their demands. He urged Sri Lankans and the international community to support their just cause.

Venerable Dhammade-eparamadipathi Hangarapitiye Maithree Thera told journalists that the western world that rushed to wrongly accuse Sri Lanka of human rights violations had failed to act against fundamentalist attacks on Buddhists in CHT.

He called for urgent action to save the lives of innocent Buddhist people in Chittagong Hill Tracts. These people are just asking for the right to live in peace in their ancestral lands, he added.

Bangladesh Chittagong Hill Bhikku Sangha (Sri Lanka branch) chairman Venerable Devesh Thera and secretary Ven Rashtrapal Thera also addressed the news conference.

They said three Buddhist temples and hundreds of Buddhist houses were burnt in the latest violence from February 19 to 26. Citing Bangladeshi national media, they said at least six Buddists were killed in last week’s "barbaric and heinous" attacks in the CHT.

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