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  • » 02/22/2010, 00.00


    Clashes between tribals and Bangladeshi: eight dead, pagodas and churches burnt

    William Gomes

    Violence stoked by disputed land, which Muslims settlers want to rob from Christians and Buddhists. Local sources say the army fired on the crowd. At least 50 homes and the UN headquarters destroyed. Dhaka promises reconstruction of places of worship.

    Dhaka (AsiaNews) - A church, a pagoda and a UN office set on fire, at least eight people dead, hundreds injured and more than 50 houses burned. This is the toll from recent clashes among tribal minorities and Bangladeshi settlers in Baghaichhari upazila in south-east of the country, some 400 kilometers from the capital Dhaka. The military intervention helped to fuel the tension: Local sources reported that troops opened fire indiscriminately on the crowd.

    Surendranath Chakrabarti, Deputy Commissioner of Rangamati district, confirmed to AsiaNews that "a church, a pagoda and a United Nations office were set on fire." A statue of Buddha in the Buddhist monastery located in Banani  was also targeted, while another statue, donated by Thailand to the monastery was plundered. He adds that some fifty houses were burnt in Baghaichhari.  

    On 20 February the local administration called for army intervention to quell clashes between settlers and minorities, which broke out after disputes over land. The authorities imposed a kind of curfew, implementing Article 144 of the Penal Code which forbids public meetings with more than five people. However, the military and security forces started to burn houses, to encourage the settlement of the Bangladeshi settlers and remove the tribals, a predominantly Christian and Buddhist.

    Leaders of the local minority groups speak of five deaths in the violence, but the victims could be eight. Witnesses present at the time of the clashes, add that the military fired "indiscriminately" on the crowds. The police have confirmed the death of a woman, Buddhapudi Chakma, 40,  who was "shot repeatedly with a pistol."  

    In the 1980s the government in Dhaka ordered thousands of Bangladeshi citizens, most of them victims of floods, to be resettled in the hilly region of Chittagong. A decision which has sparked violent conflicts over land ownership, contested between ethnic and religious minorities and the majority Muslim.  

    Today the government has ensured that it will rebuild places of worship destroyed in the clashes.    

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    See also

    14/12/2011 INDONESIA
    Ambon, more Muslim-Christian violence: 16 injured, houses burnt
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    21/07/2009 BANGLADESH
    Bangladesh, a minor pregnant after rape: beaten and forced to marry her torturer
    For months, the imam of a village in the district of Faridpur abused the girl, who did not denounce the man for "fear and shame." The young girl is seventh months pregnant, a premature birth is likely. The local council has condemned both to 101lashes with a cane.

    01/10/2012 BANGLADESH
    Bangladesh, 25 thousand Muslims set fire to 22 Buddhist temples
    The violence erupted in the south-east of the country, after the release of an "anti-islam" photo on Facebook. Hundreds of homes destroyed. A 250 year old temple destroyed. It is one of the rarest and most violent attacks against the Buddhist community in the country.

    22/09/2008 PHILIPPINES
    Christians and Muslims rebuilding coexistence after Mindanao clashes
    In the village of Muntay, Christians and Muslims offer each mutual assistance to protect themselves from the fighting between army, Muslim rebels and armed Christian groups. They want to rebuild their life together against the danger that hatred might triumph.

    20/02/2007 INDIA
    Bharatiya Janata Party discriminates against Christians and Dalits
    Frequent cases of discrimination, abuse and even murder are reported in states where the pro-Hindu BJP and its allies govern. The authorities are using old laws to take land from the Church and to prevent its activities. An appeal has been made to Premier Singh not to ignore the problem.

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