Ethnic minority Christians targeted for land grabs in Bangladesh

1 March 2018

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Bangladeshi Christians from the Garo ethnic minority held a protest in Dhaka on 17 February after the property of a Christian family of five was seized by a mob.

The family were evicted from their home in the Vatara district of Dhaka by a 30-strong mob on 13 February. Three people were injured, including Rita, who stated the mob “wanted to rob us of our land and of our store.”

The land grab was reported to police, but at the time of writing the authorities have not made any arrests.

An estimated 5,500 to 6,000 ethnic minority Santal Christians were made homeless on the night of 6 November 2016, when Bangladeshi police in riot gear marched into the desperately poor community in Gaibandah District and evicted the Christians

“Those who wanted to seize our land are planning to attack us again”, says Rita. “As long as the police does not arrest anyone, criminals will continue to threaten us. How long will we be persecuted in this country? We want answers from the government. We spend days in fear. We want security.”

Bangladesh is 90% Muslim and illegal land grabs against Christians and Hindus (1% and 9% of the population respectively) are particularly prevalent.

Those who are not from the majority Bengali ethnic group are particularly vulnerable. In 2016, as many as 6,000 Santal Christians from a village in Gaibandah  district were forcibly evicted by police, aided by local Muslims. Their homes were ransacked and burned to the ground.

Barnabas Fund is re-housing hundreds of the still homeless Santal Christians in solid brick homes, in a new community on a secure plot of church-owned land.

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