75 Year-Old Buddhist Monks Throat Slit by Muslim Extremists in Bangladesh
DHAKA – The body of 75-year-old Buddhist Monk Mong Shue U. Chak was found dead Saturday morning with his throat slit in a small monastery in Bangladesh’s remote southeast of Naikkhangchhari.
Local police official Abul Khayer said Mong Shue U. Chak’s daughter-in-law found him at 5 a.m. when she went to bring him food.
Mong Shwe U Chak had lived alone in the monastery in hilly Bandarban district for the past two years, his death bore the hallmarks of a spate of recent hacking deaths of secular Muslims and members of minority religious communities, which have been blamed on radical Muslim extremists.
Jyotirmoy Barua, a human rights lawyer who is close to the Buddhist community, told journalists that U Chak had received anonymous threats before he was killed.
“He had received death threats, but nobody took it seriously,” Barua said.
A police official in Naikkhangchhari, where the monastery is located, said authorities collected evidence from the site but did not have any suspects.
Bangladesh’s government is facing growing criticism at home and abroad for the apparent inability of its law enforcement agencies to end the killings. At least 15 people have been killed in targeted attacks over the past year, including secular bloggers, foreign priests and aid workers.
In recent weeks, the pace of the bloodshed has accelerated.
Last week, a Sufi Muslim religious leader was found dead in a pool of blood in northern Bangladesh, having been hacked to death in a mango grove. That followed killings in previous weeks of an LGBT activist and a Hindu tailor, both of whom were fatally wounded with machetes.
Islamic State and Al Qaeda – rival Islamist extremist organizations who are jockeying for a foothold in the South Asian nation – have claimed some of the previous slayings, although the government denies that either has a presence in Bangladesh.
Western diplomats are increasingly alarmed at the violence and at what they see as a lack of urgency from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government to deal with the problem. Hasina has often blamed the violence on her political rivals, including the most powerful Islamist political party, and has continued a crackdown on the opposition that many believe is fueling an extremist backlash.
Earlier this week, a former leader of the Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, was hanged following his conviction by a special court that Bangladesh has established to try suspects of war crimes committed during its 1971 war of liberation from Pakistan. Three other Jamaat leaders have also been executed following what critics have dubbed unfair trials, leading to accusations that Hasina is using the court to target her political opponents.
Bangladesh, a country of 160 million, is overwhelmingly Muslim but until recently had not been seen as a hotbed of Islamist extremism. The economy has improved thanks to a large garment manufacturing sector, and the country has won praise for expanding access to health care, sanitation and other social needs.
The killings have come amid growing concern that Muslim Extremism is gaining ground in the Muslim-majority nation of 160 million.
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