Missing Christian children found in radical madrasas in Bangladesh

September 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Asia, Bangladesh, newsletter-asia, Persecution

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Children from Christian homes were taken to madrasas in Bangladesh

Children from Christian homes were taken to madrasas in Bangladesh

Bangladesh, August 13, 2012: 80 children from Christian homes in Bangladesh were taken under false pretences by mullahs (Islamic clerics) to various madrasas (Islamic boarding schools). Attempts were made to forcibly convert them to Islam. Eleven of the children have been rescued, while the whereabouts of the remaining 69 are unknown.

The children come from the Chittagong Hills of Eastern Bangladesh where their Christian faith makes them a minority and the target of overt discrimination. In January and February, the Christian parents each paid 15,000 BDT (roughly $182 CDN ) to individuals who promised to house and educate their children in nearby cities. A quality education in the Chittagong Hills is rare, and parents often do this as a way of providing a future for their children.

Parents lost communication with their children almost immediately. After months of conducting their own search, they contacted Hotline Human Rights Trust (HHRT). According to the HHRT director, the rescued children recounted acts of physical abuse when they refused to pray, read the Qur’an, or learn Arabic. The children went on to explain that they attempted to escape after being told they would be forcibly circumcised.

Thank the Lord for the children who have returned to their families and pray the missing children will be found soon. Ask the Lord to protect these children both physically and spiritually. May the Holy Spirit strengthen them through this ordeal. Pray the perpetrators will be brought to justice and the families in this area of Bangladesh will have other ways of providing an education for their children.

– icc

Minorities voice concern for their rights

May 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Asia, Bangladesh, Persecution

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Minorities voice concern for their rightsSome 4,000 people including Hindus, Buddhists and Christians from Bengali and ethnic tribal communities have voiced concern for their rights as the country’s constitution is reviewed to take it back to its original form. “The original constitution ensured the secular nature of the state but later it was taken away. Now time has come to correct the charter and grant equal rights for all,” said Sanjeeb Drong, a tribal Garo Catholic and secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous People’s Forum at the national press club on May 27. “We want to see a completely secular constitution, not a confusing one”, said Hindu advocate Rana Dasgupta, secretary of a major minorities forum.

He said it was a bad sign that a parliamentary special committee for charter change is proposing to keep the Islamic phrase Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim (in the name of Allah the most merciful) in the preamble and Islam as the state religion. Both the amendments were inserted by rulers who wanted to gain political achievements, said Dasgupta. The leaders also demanded the removal of the Vested Property Act, a controversial law that allows the government to confiscate property from individuals it deems an enemy of the state.

Before independence in 1971, when the country was part of Pakistan, it was known as the Enemy Property Act and is still commonly referred to as such. It is officially estimated that about 75 percent of all Hindu land in Bangladesh has been seized using this act. David Baidya, 59, a Protestant and joint secretary of Bangladesh Minorities Group recalled that when his brother left home to go abroad his properties were confiscated. “If reinstatment of the 1972 constitution not ensured and the vested property act is not removed, we the minorities will refrain from voting in next general election,” he said. Special committee co-chairman and veteran parliamentarian Suranjit Sengupta, a Hindu, told the meeting he hopes that if they continue pressing the government, it will consider their demands.

– ucan