Some 500 Christians go on a hunger strike over seized Church land (Photos)
Barisal (AsiaNews) – More than 500 Christians, mostly Protestants, held a protest on Sunday in front of Ashwini Kumar Hall in Barisal, south-central Bangladesh. The demonstration over an historic Church-owned pond saw participants take part in a hunger strike (pictured).
"We organised the demonstration to protest against the government's decision to construct a building that would fill the pond,” Fr Shanti Mondal, representative of the Church of Bangladesh, told AsiaNews.
The peaceful protest was held on Sunday in front of Ashwini Kumar Hall in Barisal. Several Catholic priests and representatives of various religions were among the demonstrators.
Fr Mondal noted that the pond has belonged to St Peter’s Church since 1849. Initially used for baptisms, it now serves the community as an important source of drinking water.
"This is an historic pond, but local lawyers want to replace it with a ten-storey building. The government has taken this decision even though we have all the legal documents, and regularly pay taxes on the land."
Protesters formed a human chain and marched through the city, shouting slogans against land seizures. Afterwards, they presented a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner.
"The Public Works Department filled in a 150-year pond to build the Judicial Magistrate Court in Barisal,” the Christian leader said. “The action is completely illegal."
"Please, do not offend our religious sentiments," he pleaded.
For years, Bangladesh’s Christian minority has been subjected to forced land seizures, most of which are carried out with various forms of violence.
Just a few days ago, a Catholic tribal man was torched to death probably in connection with a land feud.