10/08/2019, 15.14
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Bangladesh Christian Association at the service of the persecuted minority for 50 years

by Sumon Corraya

The organisation defends the rights of the weakest, calls for compliance with the law and the arrest of criminals, helps people regain possession of land seized by powerful local owners. It has 101 offices across the country and 13 abroad. Some Catholics tell their stories about the help they received.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – The Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA), the country’s largest Christian association, celebrated its golden jubilee last Saturday.

In 50 years, it has been involved in helping scores of Bangladeshi Christians. In Bonpara for example, it has helped the family of a local Catholic man murdered obtain justice; in Mothbari, it has defended the local community against those who wanted to seize their land.

The BCA was founded in 1967 as the Christian Association of East Pakistan. After the country's independence in 1971, it took on its current name. Its members celebrated 50 years of activity in a ceremony attended by more than 3,000 people, including some illustrious guests.

Shapna Gomes, a 45-year-old Catholic woman, spoke about her 71-year-old father Sunil Gomes, who was killed in his shop in Bonpara, a village in Natore, by some Islamic militants in 2016.

"After my father’s killing, BCA leaders protested, calling for justice. Police came under pressure and my father's killers were arrested shortly after. Thanks to the BCA’s help, justice was done for my father."

Robi Rozario, from Mothbari, a parish near Gazipur, told AsiaNews that he “bought a piece land. After 10 years, a Muslim man came to us and said this land was his and showed me some documents. I showed him my documents”. This led to a dispute. The Christian man and his family were attacked and their house damaged.

"We asked for police help, but did not get any. Later we asked the BCA for help. They organised a human chain around the land grabber. Hundreds of Christians joined in and the media picked up the story.” Eventually, "local authorities helped and we got the land back".

The Christian association not only helped them but also other Christians who could have lost their land. Today it has 101 offices throughout the country and another 13 offices abroad. One of its most urgent demands is to have Easter declared a statutory holiday.

Card Patrick D’Rozario, archbishop of Dhaka and an advisor to the organisation, noted that the BCA was set up “to demand and protect the rights of minority Christians”.

In fact, the organisation was created to give a “voice to the weak and voiceless Christian minority,” said BCA president Nirmol Rozario. This is what it has done. “We will continue our work to ensure the rights of Christians in this Muslim majority country.”

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