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Ethnic minority Christians targeted for land grabs in Bangladesh

South Asia

Ethnic minority Christians targeted for land grabs in Bangladesh

Santal Christians protest against property seizures in Dhaka. Photo credit: Asia News

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.

“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 the Christians and Hindus (1% and 9% of the population) 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 Gaibandha district were forcibly evicted by police, aided by local Muslims. Their homes were ransacked and burned to the ground.

Christian aid agency 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.