07/20/2010, 00.00
BANGLADESH
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Dhaka, Catholic victim of violence of Muslims who want to steal his land

by William Gomes
For years Sunil Gomes had suffered pressure from Muslim neighbours. In 2009 they shot at his home and confiscated part of his garden. His older sister is terrified: "No one defends us because we are Catholics. Muslims can attack at any moment".

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Sunil Gomes, a family man and member of the Catholic parish of St. Lawrence in Dhaka, died June 28 last due to constant mental torture by Muslim neighbours who are trying to steal his land. The family members revealed the news only today and now they are afraid of being attacked by Muslims.

Sunil Gomes's family has long been under pressure. Their Muslims neighbours have wanted to expel them from their property for over a year.  October 8, 2009, a group of Muslims stormed into the Gomes house, threatened the family and took possession of half of the garden building a dividing wall. They also removed the plaque with the name of the Gomes family and a small cross and put in its place a plaque with the inscription "Allah Akbar".

On 22 October, Muslims attacked the Gomes family again firing several gunshots at the house.

On June 28, because of the increasingly violent pressure, Sunil Gomes died. Rita Gomes (pictured), sister of Sunil, told AsiaNews: "We had just learned that during a court hearing regarding our land and that the Muslims are preparing to attack us to steal our home”.

"I am a lawyer - she continues - but I can not help my family. The National Commission of Human Rights has taken the defence of Muslims, the police are corrupt and refused to protect us. The main problem is that we are Catholics and nobody wants to help us".

Rita Gomes added that only her younger sister and mother now remain in the house: "Our father is dead because the State failed to protect us. We're afraid of being killed by Muslims who can attack us any time. Our only hope is Our Lady, I have asked all Christians to pray for our family".

Seizures of land and houses are very common in Bangladesh. Usually the victims are members of ethnic and religious minorities.  

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