05/10/2019, 14.37
BANGLADESH
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Mariampur parish priest receives death threats from former lawmaker

by Sumon Corraya

The intimidation stems from a complaint he made against the politician. According to the priest, Abul Kalam Azad is involved in his brother Ovidio’s death. Fr Samson Marandy wrote to the prime minister, the Home Affair minister and other officials asking for justice.

Dinajpur (AsiaNews) – Fr Samson Marandy (pictured), 64, is a parish priest in Mariampur. Because of repeated death threats from a former MP, Abul Kalam Azad, he has been forced to perform his pastoral work escorted by members of his congregation.

The clergyman himself spoke to AsiaNews about his predicament, explaining that the intimidation is due to a complaint he filed with the authorities against the politician on 8 April. Fr Samson believes Azad is involved in the death of his brother Ovidio.

"My brother worked in the Land Department. Five years ago, we learnt of his death in a car accident. Later, we filed a complaint, which the police did not take into consideration. At the time, Abul Kalam Azad was the local MP and prevented a proper investigation from being carried out."

The parish priest, an ethnic Santal, fears for his security because over the past month people connected to Azad have threatened to kill him.

"I want justice for my younger brother,” Fr Samson said. “When he was still alive, Ovidio told his wife that the MP wanted to involve him in some illegal work. As a Christian, my brother refused. Abul Kalam Azad pressured him. I am convinced he is behind Ovidio’s killing."

"Azad's threats are an obstacle to my pastoral activity. In the past I used to visit every Catholic village. Now, for the lack of security, I bring at least three people with me.”

Founded by PIME missionaries in 1930, the parish of Mariampur serves 80 Catholic settlements with 7,250 members.

Fr Samson plans to file a new complaint against Abul Kalam Azad for the threats received.

"I wrote a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina regarding the issue and asked her to provide me with security. I sent one to the Home Affairs Minister, to the Bangladesh police chief and to some other government officials, to obtain guarantees [for myself] and justice for my beloved brother. I did receive their acknowledgement of reception."

Recently, Mariampur’s parish priest met with the Archbishop of Dhaka, Card Patrick D’Rozario. The prelate assured him that he will get involved in his case. Human rights activists also demand protection for Fr Samson and justice for his brother Ovidio.

For said Nirmol Rozario, president of the Bangladesh Christian Association, "It is very unfortunate for an enlightened country that those asking for justice must face death threats. I urge the government to guarantee Fr Samson’s security. He works for all the faithful and is our religious leader.”

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