LETTERS – June 2022

Religious tension in Bangladesh not all government’s fault

Your article on the situation facing religious minorities in Bangladesh was timely (The Minorities Question, May 2022). The writer Syed Badrul Ahsan stated that ruling party figures are careful not to do or say anything that might be misconstrued as a move away from fundamental Islamic principles in a country where close to 90 per cent of the population profess the Muslim faith.

On a recent visit to Bangladesh, the US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Rashad Hussain, said he was deeply concerned about a growing number of attacks against members of religious minority groups, such as the October 2021 violence during the Hindu Durga Puja festival mentioned in the article. He told the local press that the rise in hate speech on social media and mob violence over the past year has created an increasingly precarious situation for minority communities.

Although these situations are of concern, the problem cannot be entirely laid at the door of our leaders, as religious intolerance is a complex issue. Indeed, Prime Minister Sheik Hasina has offered a firm statement of community and religious tolerance and has pledged a thorough investigation into the incidents.

Aminur Ahmed Sajib

Mohakhali, Bangladesh

 

Young Hong Kongers need plan for prosperity

Duncan Bartlett outlines what he expects to be the thrust of policy under our new chief executive John Lee Ka-chiu (Hong Kong’s Iron Man, May 2022). I believe Lee’s first responsibility is to lead Hong Kong back to normality following the extensive disruption caused by the pandemic. In particular, there needs to be more focus on young people and education. A lack of investment in education and an overtly political curriculum has undermined our schools and colleagues. I believe it is linked to a decline in real wages, which is a major obstacle to people finding decent places to live amid an acute shortage of public housing.
The new administration should work to help build opportunities for our youngsters. They are the key to ensuring Hong Kong’s prosperity, rather than expecting our fortunes to be revived by closer ties to Beijing.
Name and address withheld

Don’t forget Myanmar

Asian Affairs magazine has covered the situation in Myanmar extensively over the years. But it is important that we do not forget the problems that continue to plague that country as the world is heavily focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Sadly, there has been no movement toward normalisation in Myanmar, which has been under the rule of a military junta since a coup in 2020. Instead, the iron-fisted rule of the military government is becoming entrenched. 

 

There are also worrying signs that the opposition to the military is becoming more radicalised. Some public sector workers have received death threats for returning to work after prolonged strikes, which were called in an attempt to topple the military regime. 

To resolve the situation, all parties concerned must be brought to the negotiation table. In particular, the participation of Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and Myanmar’s toppled democratic regime – many members of which are detained by the military junta – is essential.

Andrew McNamara

Edinburgh 

 

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