11/23/2015, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Bangladesh: Fr. Piero is fine but political tension remains high

The health of the Catholic missionary improves by the hour. But he is very weak from his injuries and antibiotics. Political climate increasingly volatile, with the hanging of two opponents. The Islamic group Jamaat-e-Islami calls for a general strike. The priests of Dinajpur still live under police protection. Catholic source: "We need a dialogue between the communities."

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Father Piero Parolari "is doing well and the doctors plan to discharge him soon” a Catholic source told AsiaNews of the health conditions of the PIME missionary (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions) who was attacked last week by three thugs.

Fr. Piero is "responding well to treatment, he was taken off the drainage and is now able to go to the bathroom, even if accompanied by medical personnel."

The situation in Bangladesh, however, remains tense, especially after the hanging of two political opponents, condemned to death on charges of war crimes committed during the Indo-Pakistani conflict of 1971.

Fr. Parolari "is still weak, because of deep wounds sustained during the attack. He has chest pain, caused by the breakage of three ribs, and facial bruising which are on the mend. He is fed through an IV and has not yet begun to eat solid foods. The doctors have submitted him to a strong antibiotic treatment for his facial injuries and this is one of the reasons why he feels very tired". Despite the severity of the clinical picture in which Fr. Parolari was admitted to the military hospital in the capital, "everything is going well and the doctors are very kind and helpful. He is very fortunate that the army has taken care of him", the source added.

While the conditions of the priest are promising, the political situation in the Asian country remains tense. Yesterday morning the death sentence was carried out of two political leaders accused of war crimes in the conflict that led to the secession of Bangladesh in 1971.

Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury, head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamic group in the country were hung.  Jamaat-e-Islami has called for a general strike today.

Last week Catholic sources had confirmed the growing political instability to AsiaNews.  This is also the origin of the attack on Fr. Parolari and the violence against foreigners during the previous months, including that of the Italian volunteer Cesare Tavella.

"In Rajshahi - adds the source - the army was deployed, officially as a 'form of protection’. A Dinajpur the PIME priests continue to be escorted by the military. We also know that violence against foreign citizens is still happening: for example, in Dinajpur the home of a Japanese couple was vandalized. Fortunately they were not at home at the time of the attack.. A group of assailants devastated the house, removing even the surveillance cameras. "

Following death threats delivered to 12 priests, "the Bangladeshi Catholic Association organized a human chain to protest against religious violence and reaffirm the value of dialogue between the communities." Encourage dialogue, he adds, "is the of the diocese of Dinajpur, which wants to organize a peaceful demonstration to raise awareness at a local level of the  work of missionaries in the service of the needy. Priests are there for them, they live for them. It is this that we need to understand. "

 It will not be a demonstration against the government, said the source, "but an initiative to support the missionaries and to facilitate a climate of reconciliation and peace in the country".

Lastly, the source argues for a general involvement of the different confessions. "A Dinajpur – he concludes- meetings with Muslims and Hindus were held. More people became involved, even from other denominations, to strengthen ties of solidarity, so that attacks similar to those on Fr. Piero do not happen again in the future".

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