The incident of law enforcers forcibly picking up rape and molestation victim Marma sisters from a Rangamati hospital is yet another example of state-sponsored repression against ethnic minorities in the country, said speakers at a roundtable on Friday.
‘What happened at the hospital is unbelievable,’ said professor Anu Muhammad, speaking at the roundtable on resisting repression against women in Bangladesh including in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
‘Disconnecting electricity supply to an entire hospital and then attacking attendants before picking up patients from there is a very unusual thing to happen,’ he added.
Anu Muhammad was referring to the Thursday evening incident in which law enforcers reportedly picked up the Marma sisters, who were raped and molested at their residence on January 22, from Rangamati General Hospital.
The Marma sisters alleged that their attackers were in army uniform, an allegation denied by the army.
Anu Mohammad said the incident bears circumstantial evidence to law enforcers being involved in the violence against the sisters.
Writer Rahnuma Ahmed said sexual violence against ethnic minority women was intended to discourage ethnic minorities from engaging in the movement in demand ping their right to self-determination.
‘The Chittagong Hill Tracts has been turned into a Bengali Muslim colony and the state is using its army to oppress the ethnic minorities there,’ said Rahnuma.
The roundtable began with the presentation of a paper in which at least six incidents of ethnic minority women falling victims to rape and murder were cited. The incidents took place after 2012.
Investigations into each of the incidents might reveal that those who committed the crimes were related to state power in a way or the other, said Nirupa Chakma, Hill Womens’ Federation president, adding that no investigation was conducted so far and no one was punished.
The roundtable was organised jointly by Samajtantrik Mahila Forum, CPB Nari Cell and Hill Womens’ Federation at Dhaka Reporters Unity in the morning.
Dhaka university teachers Amena Mohsin, Akmal Hossain and representatives from different social and political organisations based in Dhaka and in the CHT also attended the roundtable.
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