Tag Archives: Bangladesh

India ignores request to repatriate Christians

Fourteen Christians from India are stuck in a Bangladeshi prison weeks after completing a three-month sentence for unwittingly crossing the border while evangelizing.

They remain in the prison because the India’s authorities have not made arrangements for repatriation, adding to international skepticism about India’s committment to religious liberty and human rights.

“Their jail terms was finished on February 28,” Brig. Gen. Zakir Hasan, the Bangladeshi Inspector General of Prisons, told Compass Direct News. “We applied to our home ministry on February 9 about their repatriation to India.

“But so far, we did not get any information about their repatriation. If [India’s] high commission does not take any initiative about their repatriation, they will be in jail sine die [indefinitely].”

Bangladeshi officials are willing to send the prisoners back to India, but cannot do so unless India’s high commission makes arrangements.

“If we release them without their high commission’s initiative, they will be caught again in Bangladeshi territory for not having any valid documents and passports,” Hasan said. “They will be put in jail for another crime.”

The  Compass Direct News report explained the circumstances under which the 14 were jailed.

Roma neighborhood Sub-Inspector Babar Ali said Bangladeshi border patrols arrested the 14 evangelists on November 27 of last year, handed them over to local police the next day, and the Christians appeared in court on November 29.

“Those Christian people were actually preaching Christianity in that mountainous terrain,” said Ali. “They could not understand the demarcation line of the border between India and Bangladesh. In actual fact, there is no demarcation line of border there.”

Ali said the Christians had no illegal purpose for entering the country.

“Rather, they entered mistakenly while preaching their religion in predominantly tribal locality,” he said. “We investigated whether they were engaged in any illegal or criminal activities in Bangladeshi territory, but our investigation has drawn a blank. We did not find them involved in any criminal activities.”

Investigators found only Christian literature on them, Ali added.

India and Bangladesh share a 2,545-mile (4,095-kilometer) border that is largely unfenced. There are 111 Indian enclaves (locally known as Chits) in Bangladesh territory covering 17,258.24 acres, and there are 51 Bangladesh enclaves in Indian territory measuring 7,083.72 acres.

Convert burned, family forgives

DHAKA, Bangladesh – A 70-year-old woman convert from Islam died on Friday (Feb. 1) from burns she suffered when unknown assailants in a Muslim-majority area (about 150 miles northwest of the capital) set her home on fire last month. Rahima Beoa of Cinatuly village suffered burns over 70 to 80 percent of her body after the home she shared with her daughter and son-in-law, also converts, was set ablaze the night of Jan. 7, said Khaled Mintu, Rangpur regional supervisor of the Isha-e-Jamat (Jesus’ Church) Bangladesh denomination. Villagers were upset over her conversion to Christianity and that of her daughter and son-in-law, he said. “Before her burial, the family members forgave those who set fire in the house and prayed to God that this kind of incident not occur anymore in this country,” Mintu told Compass. “They also prayed for a situation where Muslims and Christians can practice their own religion side by side peacefully.”

-Compass Direct News

Rumor in Bangladesh: Paid to convert

The rumor that evangelists offer people money to convert to Christianity in Bangladesh is the rationale for violence against Christians not just from Muslims, but from Buddhists who make up less than 1 percent of the population. Subash Mondol, a supervisor of the Christian Life Bangladesh (CLB) “Jesus Film” team in Khagrachori district, told Compass that in early September tribal Buddhist villagers decided to kidnap a CLB worker after hearing a rumor that he had received money for converting. Finding no money on Cinku Marma, they instead assaulted him with a jungle knife on September 6, slashing his hand, forehead and ear. In Nilphamari district, where 10 of 42 converts from Islam were brutally beaten in June, Muslim missionaries are helping to spread the conversion-for-pay rumor. And a district official recently summoned pastor Sanjoy Roy, accusing him of offering financial incentives and ordering him stop evangelizing. He also forced Roy to sign a statement that he would not go outside the area without permission.

-Compass Direct News