During a meeting with Donald Trump, Bangladeshi minority rights activist Priya Saha had informed the US President that minorities faced extreme persecution in her country. She said that over the years 37 million minorities have disappeared from Bangladesh. Priya Saha is the organising secretary of the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council (HBCUC)
Her comments attracted the wrath of many of her countrymen including those in the government. Road Transport Minister and ruling Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader told reporters on Saturday that Saha had made “false, purposeful and treasonous remarks” and a sedition case will be filed against her. However, it appears that Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina disapproved of any legal action against the activist and let her opinions known on the matter.
Dhaka Metropolitan Magistrates have dismissed two separate cases of sedition filed against Saha in the matter. They asserted that legal action for sedition could only be pursued with permission from the government, a criterion that the cases did not fulfil.
Saha has now issued a clarification over the remarks she made during her meeting with Donald Trump. In a YouTube video shared through the channel of her rights organization Sharee on Sunday, she has defended her comments in light of available facts.
Saha asserted that over 600 people ‘go missing’ in Bangladesh every day. She based her claim on a study by Dhaka University professor Abul Barkat. She further stated the she had worked with the professor on the study and that’s how she was familiar with the details.
“All I meant is that the number of minority people has gradually declined. I didn’t mean to comment on the government. I just mentioned what happened in my village in Pirojpur,” she explained. “There were 40 families in my village in 2004. That number is now 13.” She emphasized that it was for the state to look into the matter.
Saha also accused the Bangladesh Nationalist Party of attacking the minority community. And asserted that Sheikh Hasina has battled against fundamentalism and fought for the welfare of the minority community and secularism.
Hindus in Bangladesh have been facing great persecution in recent years. Mob violence against Hindus is a regular feature and they have to live under the constant fear of Islamic intolerance.