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    » 04/17/2015, 00.00

    BANGLADESH

    Bishop of Sylhet: Protection for tribal Catholics, victims of expropriation and threats

    Sumon Corraya

    At Easter a village inhabited by Khasia suffered a heavy attack from a group of Muslims. The real aim of the aggression was to force the community to abandon the local tea plantation, of which it has legal usufruct. The pastor: "We live in fear."

    Sylhet (AsiaNews) - "We want justice and security for our priests and our faithful. We hope that the government will find a peaceful solution and that our people can live free from tensions. " This is the appeal that Msgr. Bejoy N. D'Cruze OMI, Bishop of Syleht, launches through AsiaNews after the recent attacks against the tribal Khasia living in his diocese. "They are a very peaceful community - the prelate said - but often fall victims of the Bengali majority ".

    April 6 last, Syed Ara Begum, a Muslim owner of a tea plantation, along with at least 35 people attacked the Khasia village that falls under the jurisdiction of the parish of Sreemongal (Moulovobazar district). The population - all Catholic - was celebrating Mass for Easter Monday. Hearing the cries, the pastor Fr. James Kiron Rozario CSC ran to the site to save them. The crowd of Muslims, however, attacked him with a knife, seriously wounding him and threatening to kill him.

    After assaulting the faithful, the group stole items worth 33,900 taka (4,134 EUR); destroyed Bibles, crosses, holy pictures, musical instruments and homes; killed goats and chickens.

    The pastor filed a complaint against the Muslims who attacked them: "They attacked us to push us to leave the plantation. They want to occupy the land, but what they did is illegal. " Fr. Rozario explains that the population years ago obtained government permission to use that land. "Now - he says - my Catholics and I live in fear, they might attack us at any moment."

    Nirmal Rozario, leader of the Bangladesh Christian Association, said: "We express our strong condemnation of the attack on the priest and the community. We demand that the perpetrators are caught and brought to justice. "

    The tribal Khasia migrated to the Sylhet region from India many years ago. They currently live in 108 villages, belonging to four Catholic parishes of the diocese.

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    See also

    11/07/2014 BANGLADESH
    12 Muslims arrested from group that attacked the church of Boldipukur
    The robbers were after documents pertaining to land ownership. Not the first attempt to steal the deeds. The parishioners are mostly tribal, very poor and poorly educated and often Muslims try to take over their lands. During the attack, three PIME nuns suffered attempted rape.

    25/07/2012 INDIA
    Assam Priest: humanitarian crisis between Muslims and tribal like a tsunami
    The priest is in Kokajhar, where the violence first erupted. Toll rises to 32 victims, 170 thousand displaced. Indigenous Bodo most affected: 70% of the population have lost their land, 90% of them live on agriculture alone.

    11/01/2016 BANGLADESH
    Rajshahi: tribal Catholic killed, possibly linked to land feud
    The man's name was Louis Soren and he was 40 years old. The attackers tried to erase all traces of the murder by burning his body. His wife recognized him from a mark on his leg. PIME priest: "We have buried Louis in the local cemetery."

    11/11/2015 BANGLADESH
    Dinajpur, new attacks on Christians: family flees burning home
    A group of Muslims attempted to burn an entire Christian family, accused of witchcraft. A victim: "We lost everything, we live in absolute poverty. If we do not withdraw the complaint the consequences will be worse". In recent weeks many attacks on Christian-owned properties: the real intent is land expropriation.

    26/10/2009 BANGLADESH
    Pressure on Catholic family to rob them of house and property
    Muslim groups have shot at the house and have built a wall to expropriate the land, while the police fails to intervene. "Allah Akbar" in place of the cross. Other Christian families have had to leave the area.



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