Four revellers held after Bangladesh bans 'rainbow rally'

By AFP
Published: April 14, 2016
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Revellers attend a rally in celebration of the Bengali New Year or  Pohela Boishakh  in Dhaka on April 14, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Revellers attend a rally in celebration of the Bengali New Year or Pohela Boishakh in Dhaka on April 14, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

DHAKA: Police detained four revellers attempting to hold a banned “rainbow rally” to mark Bengali New Year in the Bangladeshi capital Thursday, amid heightened security threats.

Officers said they held four young men who joined revellers at the main new year parade at Dhaka University seeking to hold a rally in support of gay rights, which had been denied permission.

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PHOTO: AFP

Authorities had cancelled the rally, being organised by activist group Roopbaan — which says it promotes freedom of love and gender equality — at the last minute, after some hardline Muslims threatened to beat up participants.

“We’ve held them after they attempted to hold a rainbow rally in support of homosexuals,” local police chief Abu Baker Siddique told AFP.

“The rally did not have permission from Dhaka Metropolitan Police and the Dhaka University authorities,” he said.

He said the four were expected to be released in the evening.

PHOTO: AFP

Gays and lesbians suffer discrimination and worse in Bangladesh where homosexuality is a crime punishable by a maximum life term, although prosecutions are rare.

However, the Roopbaan rally, which was denied permission late on Wednesday, had been allowed to go ahead in the previous two years.

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“We did not hold the rainbow rally although some 60 people came to the spot where we were scheduled to meet,” a Roopbaan organiser said on condition of anonymity, adding he did not know why the four men were detained.

Police have stepped up their hunt for militants as Bangladesh reels from a series of deadly attacks on religious minorities, secularists and foreigners in recent months.

PHOTO: AFP

Hardline clerics have branded the Bengali new year celebrations, in which people carry masks of animals and colourful garlands, as “un-Islamic and Haram (forbidden)”.

As the sun rose Thursday hundreds of girls wearing traditional red and white saris, sang and danced to mark the Bengali year of 1423 at Dhaka’s colonial-era Ramna Park.

Thousands later joined the main street parade, carrying the colourful replicas of animals, hats and garlands. Security was tight with hundreds of police guarding the main venues.

Authorities also this year banned outdoor evening concerts and masks, commonly worn during the new year parades, as part of increased security.

In 2001 a new year bomb blast in Dhaka’s Ramna Park killed 10 people. Eight militants were sentenced to death for the attack.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • pk
    Apr 14, 2016 - 4:58PM

    I salute Bangladesh people. Inspite of majority Muslims they are repelling Islamofascism through democratic laws. This country has bright future.Recommend

  • Brainy Bhaijan
    Apr 14, 2016 - 6:08PM

    Bangladesh also under the spell of Arabic tribal culture.Recommend

  • nasser
    Apr 15, 2016 - 5:58AM

    @Brainy Bhaijan:
    @pk:
    Advocating homosexuality in the name of liberal values is nothing but abuse to human dignity and mirror of sick minds ….People like you, though got physical freedom from Britain, remain steadfast slaves of immoral western values. As for Arabic tribal values…well it is still better than such values which allow humans to become animals. It’s better to keep our woman under veil than taking pride in parading them on the streets naked and turning them into commodity for sale.

    ET PLEASE PUBLISHRecommend

  • pk
    Apr 15, 2016 - 7:33AM

    Historically India doesn’t have concept of morality. It is foreign (arab/english) concept. Morality is list of Do’s and dont’s for enslaved natives (written in books). We firmly believe that these are the various things available, how much and what to do is individual choice. But whatever you do it will have percussions in your present life (karma), not that there is someone sitting up in the sky and looking at you. Have you seen khajuraho temple? That is my India.Recommend

  • Western Girl
    Apr 15, 2016 - 10:23PM

    @nasser: You call these “immoral values” as Western values and that Arabic tribals are better. Funny that the west learned them from the east. Homosexuality, concubines, harems with s*x slaves (often infidel girls), marrying 6-9 year-old girls, marrying several wives, drugs such as opium and hashish, unfair adultery laws for women versus men, the rich not having to adhere to the laws forced on commoners as still goes on today. We see Saudi princes in London partying, drinking, and the rich drink alcohol in KSA. Talk about being hypocrites of morality…it doesn’t happen there or anywhere. So don’t act like western countries created all these acts of immorality.

    So many “animals” as you call them, spring out of Arab tribal areas. The joke is on you. Recommend

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