12/01/2009, 00.00
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Dhaka: a jobless Catholic widow in a tragic situation

by William Gomes
Gunmen assassinated Laili Costa’s husband on14 July. Police are not pursuing the case because she cannot afford bribe money. Shortly, she will be kicked out of her home, whilst her daughters are malnourished. Now she has but one desire: “celebrate Christmas with my children.”
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Laili Costa is homeless and out of a job. Her husband was killed under obscure  circumstances and her daughters might starve to death. Ms Costa is a Catholic woman in Dhaka who only wants “to celebrate Christmas with her children.” She spoke to AsiaNews about the hardships she has experienced since her husband’s death.

“The landlord of our first house kicked us out. We found a second place but we will have to leave there soon,” she said.

Her oldest daughter “left school because I could not pay the tuition fees.” The second suffers from severe malnutrition and “could die any time.”

Her family’s troubles began after her husband Joacem Costa (pictured at their wedding) was killed. He was a small businessman but was gunned down on 14 July by a group of armed men. Joacem’s brother filed charges but now fears possible retaliation from the criminal gang.

She said she cannot pay bribe money to Mohamed Moinul Islam, the official in charge of the investigation into her husband’s murder. For this reason, she has not had any justice.

For the policeman, the case is “shrouded in mystery;” still police continues ‘to follow the matter to shed light on it.”

Human rights activities and Catholic clergymen have expressed their solidarity to Laili Costa.  However, no one has yet to offer her a job or a place where she can move with her family.

“I am afraid that I will not even be able to celebrate Christmas with my daughters,” she said.

Catholics in Bangladesh are a tiny minority. Out of a population of 143 million, Muslims represent 90 per cent of the total. About 9.5 per cent are Hindu, and Christians constitute only 0.3 per cent.

In the past, members of religious minorities have often been victims of attacks, violence and persecution.

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