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 Post subject: Asia news
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:11 pm 
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» 04/12/2012 12:29
INDIA. Christian leader, happy for Bosusco's release but govt now must think about Tribals
Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, laments the daily discrimination experienced by Tribals and Christians in Orissa and the authorities' indifference. Out of more than 3,300 complaints made by the victims of anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal, only 831 were formally filed.


Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) - Protestant leader Sajan K George "welcomes" Paolo Bosusco's release. However, whilst he is also waiting for the release of tribal lawmaker Jhina Hikaka, he says that we cannot forget "the Orissa government's unfair treatment of tribal peoples, the same it reserves for Christians." According to the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) in fact, out of 3,300 complaints made by the victims of anti-Christian pogroms in 2008 at local police stations, only 831 formally ended with a First Information Report (FIR).

"Kandhamal has been in the glare of the international media since the December 2007 and August 2008 large scale anti-Christian violence. Even today, peace and normalcy have yet to return to the district," George said. "Kandhamal Christians continue to suffer humiliations and discrimination. In certain pockets of the district, they even endure social boycott."

In March 2012, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom placed India on its 'Watch List' of countries with severe violations of religious freedom, primarily due to lack of progress in achieving justice for victims of past large-scale incidents of communal violence.

The independent federal agency called on the United States to urge the Indian government to strengthen the ability of state and central police to provide effective means to prohibit and punish cases of religious violence to the fullest extent of the law whilst protecting victims and witnesses.

"Maoists are not the first political group to complain that the tribal people have had a raw deal from the Indian state," the GCIC president said. "Mainstream political parties and governments run by them have long treated tribal people simply as vote banks. The grinding poverty and social backwardness in which most tribal people live are often taken for granted."

"So many innocent Tribals and other poor people are in prison, branded as Maoists, without lawyers available to them. Even friends do not visit them due to fear that they too would be jailed. The poor are terrorised from all sides." (NC)


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 Post subject: Re: Asia news
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:17 pm 
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» 02/25/2010 14:55
BANGLADESH
Military against Christians in Baghaichhari, three churches on fire, thousands flee
by William Gomes
Local Christians are in shock after an attack by about a hundred soldiers on 19 February. About 1,800 people are hiding in the forest, fearing more violence. Police chief pledges security, but for Christian man, they are “meaningless words”.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Christians living in Baghaichhari Upazila (district) in southeastern Bangladesh are shaken by an attack against them carried out by about a hundred soldiers. Around 10 pm on 19 February, soldiers beat up people and set fire to three churches, a Buddhist pagoda and 41 homes. They had moved into the area, ostensibly to stop clashes between indigenous tribal groups and Bangladeshi settlers. At present, more than 500 families for a total of some 1,800 people have fled into the forest fearing more attacks.
Clinton Chakama, a member of the Gongarama Baptist Church, told AsiaNews that he was “still scared” just to think about “the sudden attack by the army”. At the beginning, “they started beating us, then poured liquid fuel on the church. We tried to stop them but they started shooting at us,” he said.

After the attack, Christians fled into the nearby forest. “Many people were hurt,” Chakama said. “Some tribal leaders (pictured) organised demonstrations”.

As a result of the attack, the army torched the Baptist Church in Gongarama, that of Joralchori and the Christ Church in Desimon Chara, in Baghaichhari Upazila, about 400 kilometres from the capital Dhaka.

Soldiers are believed to have attacked a fourth church and a Buddhist pagoda as well. A Protestant clergyman in Mangamati, on condition of anonymity, said that “the situation is very tense; 41 homes have been set on fire [. . .], more than 500 families for about 1,800 people are now living in the deep jungle.”

The military moved in to stop clashes between local tribal minorities and Bangladeshi settlers. However, by its actions, it has exacerbated tensions. The conflict between the two groups began as a dispute over land in the early 1980s. At that time, the Bangladeshi government tried to settle thousands of Bangladeshi, mostly flood victims, in the hill region of Chittagong, igniting the conflict.

On Tuesday, the military on government orders harassed a group of journalists in order to prevent them from reporting the episode.

In addition, Clinton Chakama reported that suffering by locals includes “more than 100 children who are ill from water-borne diseases caused by pollution”. All of them are in need of urgent medical care.

Fr Robert Gonsalves, from St Joseph’s Church in Rangamati, said he and his congregation are praying for the “persecuted”. He stressed that the Church is close to the Christians and Buddhists victimised in the attack. He also insisted that Lent is also a time to keep in mind “forgiveness and the desire for justice and peace.”

Yesterday, the police chief in Rangamati visited the scene of the attack along with government officials and a minister. He said, “We shall do our best to guarantee security”. He did not however answer questions addressed by AsiaNews about the church burning and the harassment Christians had to endure.

“They promised food and security,” Clinton Chakama said, “but we know that those are meaningless words. They are not going to take any steps against the army”, which has a past of forcibly seizing land, torturing people and raping women.


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 Post subject: Re: Asia news
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:19 pm 
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» 04/27/2011 18:16
BANGLADESH
Tribal villages again under attack as settlers deny responsibility and the authorities look on
by Nozrul Islam
Bengalis play victim this time as the possibly disproportionate tribal reaction may herald a return to guerrilla war. With no one trying to find the truth, the only certainty is that 50 villages were attacked and that four Bengalis died. The authorities just look on.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – At least 50 villages inhabited by Jumma tribes in the Chittagong Hill Tracts area (Khagrachari district) were attacked. More than 200 homes were torched and reduced to ashes. Two Buddhist temples were also burnt to the ground. Four Bengali settlers were killed, whilst more than 20 Jummas, including women and children, were wounded. Unconfirmed but reliable reports say that 40 university students have disappeared. This is the outcome of the latest settler attack against Jummas on 17 April, which the authorities have tried to conceal.
The incident was sparked when a group of Bengalis on 14 April tried to take over land used by local tribal people, named Jummas after their ‘shifting’ or ‘jhum’ form of cultivation. The raid failed because it would seem that locals carried out their own attack against settlers, causing the death of four of them. Such incidents are commonplace in Bangladesh. However, lack of information about them has tended to complicate matters.

Settlers and indigenous groups have accused each other in this particular case. Jummas say that Bengali settlers attacked 50 of their villages, setting houses on fire. The latter have countered, claiming the opposite.

The conflict is economic and social, essentially over land use, not religion. It stems from an attempt by Bengalis, backed by army and police, to colonise land inhabited by tribal communities.

However, in this case, roles were reversed because tribals attacked first. This has given Bengalis an opportunity of playing victim, demonstrate, and get the ear of the authorities, who tend to pay less attention to complaints by Jummas when the latter face similar circumstances.

The only thing that is certain is that four settlers were killed by tribals, something that appears disproportionate, especially since Jummas, who are very poor, tend only to use sticks against those who try to seize their land. When that happens, settlers usually organise counteractions against the indigenous population. Even when the police does move in to separate the parties, it never arrests Bengali settlers, thus allowing them to take over more land.

Some now fear that some small groups in the tribal population are trying to stoke the fire of conflict, perhaps restart the 20-year-guerrilla war that ended in late 1990s with a peace deal.

First declared unconstitutional, the agreement was later revived by the current government, but has not been implemented.

Measures taken by the commission to examine the contending claims have not satisfied anyone. For instance, the planned demilitarisation of the region has not been done since some 400 military camps are still waiting to be closed.

In the meantime, Bengali settlers have set up their own self-defence group, the Fight for People’s Rights in Chittagong Hill Tract (FPRCHT), a quasi-paramilitary organisation backed by local police that is known to use illegal means to suppress minorities.

In the latest incident, the FPRCHT lodged an official complaint with the prime minister, a clear sign that the settlers know how to navigate the corridors of power.

The group has also accused the police of not protecting them and not heeding their complaints. However, making false accusations is not that uncommon in Bangladesh.


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 Post subject: Re: Asia news
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:21 pm 
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» 12/29/2011 15:21
BANGLADESH
A hostel for young tribal Buddhists and Christians, for the development of Bangladesh
by Nozrul Islam
Founded in 2006, Hill Child Home is located in the Bandarban Hill Tract and welcomes orphaned, abandoned, poor and disabled boys and girls. The Moon-Light K.G. School founded nearby, open to hostel residents and external students. According to its founder Mong Yeo Marma, a Buddhist, "education is the cornerstone of a state and access to study for all young people is the only way to change".

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Building a new Bangladesh starting from children and young people. This is the aim of the Hill Child Home in Bandarban Hill Tract District, a hostel for tribal boys and girls initiated and directed by Buddhist Mong Yeo Marma. The house is located in Chittagong Division, south of the country. "Education - he tells AsiaNews - is the basis of everything, the starting point to create people who can change the country." Founded in 2006 it has since grown thanks to the donations of many Christians, even from Italy. Today the house welcomes orphaned, abandoned and disabled tribal children. They are ethnic Marma, Chakma, Tripura, Khyang, Khumee, Buddhists and Christians. Next to the hostel a school was founded, open to both Home Child Hill residents and external students.

The Hill Home Child was born almost by accident, Mong Yeo says, when "a Buddhist monk friend of mine asked if I could help him with some tribal children who had received a sort of hostel. He spoke only Burmese and with the increase in numbers of the children could no longer handle the situation. Thus, in 2006 the hostel was born, and I took over the direction. "

"I was born in the south (Chittagong Hill Tracts) - Mong Yeo says - and I grew up in an orphanage in the area. Then, I studied in Dhaka and I started working at the factory. In those years, a strong 'need' grew within me. The need to do something for others, but also to find my place in a society that welcomed me. " Being Buddhist and tribal, in a country where the majority of the population is Muslim and Bengali, means living on the margins. Muslims tend not to mix with those who follow another religion, while the Bengalis consider Buddhist tribals culturally inferior.

"This sense of frustration – he continues - is something you carry inside you from when you are small. This is why this hostel is so important. It provides opportunities for these kids to grow up in an environment where they feel welcome and accepted for who they are, where they can explore, discover and develop their talents, to learn respect for and the value of women. Even the tribal children are the future of this country and education plays a fundamental role. Only when the entire population is educated, can there be a real development of the state. Education is the cornerstone of a nation. "

The Hill Child Home is located in an area where previously there was only jungle. Over the years, thanks to donations, the Moon-Light KG School has been added to the hostel and it is attended by children of the house and from outside, employing eight teachers. The young people have cultivated a plantation of rubber trees in the grounds and have recently planted a field of ginger. The work in two crops, along with fishing, contributes to the costs of the entire structure. Mong Yeo Marma and his colleagues have also built a Christian chapel and a Buddhist temple in the grounds.


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 Post subject: Re: Asia news
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:25 pm 
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05/10/2006 10:34
BANGLADESH
Bengalis loot and destroy two indigenous villages in the Chittagong Hills tracts
by Nozrul Islam

In the Chittagong hills, Bengali thugs continue to terrorise indigenous communities, victims of murder, rape, land seizure, and a justice system unwilling to do its job.




Chittagong (AsiaNews) – One dead, four young women raped, 45 people wounded, several houses looted, and a destroyed youth hostel, is the tragic price imposed on two indigenous villages, Saupru Karbari and Noapara, in the Maischari cluster (Khagrachari district), by a gang of Bengali thugs who are depriving locals of everything, starting with the land that they made fertile "struggling against heat, rain and forest tigers". The criminal gang did not spare even a Buddhist hostel for poor children; it was heavily damaged.

The events in question date back a month. Reports about what happened appeared in some papers for a couple of days, but nothing more thereafter. This is typical of stories involving violence against indigenous peoples. As it is wont to do, the police failed to protect the victims. What is worse, as a journalist confirmed to AsiaNews, the police refused to hear the rape complaints altogether.

What happened?

The recent crisis began when a group of 50 Bengali settlers entered the eight-acre property of Ammesu Moghini, 45, on the morning of April 2 in order to cut down trees to build houses for themselves. Mr Ammesu tried to stop them but the men sent their women armed with sickles, hoes and sticks to chase him away. A few Bengali youths present at the scene stood by watching the attack before stopping the women and leaving. This points to certain premeditation in the attack.

The next day tens of youth came to Ammesu's home and started throwing stones against it. When he went out with his daughters Krojaima Marma, 15, and Tuimrashang Marma, 16, to stop the young men and ask for explanations, he was threatened.

"Leave this place; otherwise we'll kill you," some of the men shouted. Others, after entering the house and ransacking it, dragged the two teenage girls away taking them to the house of an accomplice named Hasina. Here Ammesu's daughters were tortured, beaten, stripped, gang raped, left unconscious and robbed of their neck chain and earrings.

When the girls' mother went looking for them, she, too, was abducted, tied, beaten, robbed like her daughters and left unconscious. As if the family did not have enough troubles, the woman's elder sister, 49-year-old Abaikroin Moghini, who heard her cries as she was going to the nearby pagoda, went looking for her. Her attempts to untie her sister came to naught because the Bengali thugs came back again and hit her repeatedly.

The same fate befell Sumona Mahatero, a courageous Buddhist monk, founder and manager of a hostel for poor children, who rushed to the site of the assault. As he tried to untie the women, he was taken by the throat, beaten and dragged into the street.

For Mahatero, he was the thugs' real target. His fault was that he had tried to stand up against those who victimised locals and instead tried to improve their lives. Because of him, outside thugs have not been able to seize the land they want.

The thugs also went on a rampage in the villages of Saupru Karbari and Noapara as well as the Buddhist hostel. They seriously wounded many local, defenceless indigenous residents, killing one. Many of the victims suffered deep cuts to the head. Mahatero's hostel was not spared the thugs' fury. In just one day, the work of a lifetime was gone; the place where 70 boys and girls lived and studied was a shell of what it was.

Without any outside help, using bamboo and wood, the monk had built a temple, a school, a hostel and a kitchen. He provided books to read and write, pens, chairs, tables and blackboards for the pupils. He was even able to get a colour TV for their entertainment.

No justice for the victims

People with broken arms and legs, head wounds and back injuries ended up in hospital. But even here they did not fare well. There received inadequate medical care and insufficient treatment. Many patients, fearing for the life, fled.

On top of all this, charges were laid against indigenous people, distorting the facts, putting the blame for the incidents on the victims themselves.

Police so far has refused to accept the rape charges made by the four women. It also failed to have the women undergo a medical check to verify their claims. The women were also not offered any medical treatment. Pretexts have delayed proceedings.

As far as it can be ascertained, no commission of inquiry has been set up. The Bengali thugs were arrested but then released one by one. Similarly, the government has not compensated the victims in any shape or form.

The villages that were attacked and neighbouring villages now live in fear. Families that fled have still not gone home for lack of security. Pupils attending the hostel have also not returned and it is doubtful whether they ever will. Currently, some 201 indigenous families have been left homeless and are sheltering in a state school. Others have had to live in the open. But even there they are harassed by the police which wants to chase them away.


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 Post subject: Re: Asia news
PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:28 pm 
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03/30/2012 15:22
BANGLADESH
Conversion to Christ in Bangladesh: marriages, social dissatisfaction and the search for God
by Maria Gomes
Changing from one religion to another is a complex process where often material and spiritual interests are confused. Islam is the state religion, but the constitution guarantees freedom of religion and the conversions are generally accepted. Legal pressures for Muslims who convert to Christianity. Among the tribal at least 10 years of catechumenate, to ensure genuine conversion.


Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Marriage, social dissatisfaction and the search for God: religious conversion in Bangladesh is divided according to these three fundamental issues in a climate of general tolerance. Although the vast majority of the population is Muslim (89.5%) and Islam is considered a state religion, the Constitution does not recognize Sharia law and guarantees full freedom of worship. However, despite being one of the more open Muslim countries, the social and cultural domination of the Islamic religion is such as to make Bangladesh a society full of contradictions, where conversions see the material interests of various kinds confused with a genuine spirituality.

The transition from one religion to another takes place in every direction, even if the main trend is from Islam to Christianity and not vice versa. When the reason is a marriage, it is not uncommon to see cases of Muslim girls marrying Christian, Buddhists or Hindus without converting. By itself, that Islam is opposed to a woman contracting marriage with a young man from other religions, but the legislation provides for mixed marriages. In these cases, problems arise in situations of conflict, since the rights of different religions apply to the field of marriage. In general, Islam prevails.

Conversion can also stem from a strong dissatisfaction with the original religious group, which results in varying degrees of tension. Feeling cut off from their religious communities, can lead a person to search for a different identity, sometimes simply to vindicate - a real or perceived - mistreatment.

Sometimes there is in fact an interest that stems from "something" that is within the other religion, and this can take many forms: passing from Christianity (or Buddhism, or Hinduism), to Islam it is often the quest for greater social recognition. Having an Arabic name, in many cases it may make things easier, and a person is not very fervent in their faith they choose to convert. We know for example that the senior army officers must be Muslims. Those who pass to Christianity, however, often hope to receive support from NGOs and charities.

In the case of the tribals (Adivasi), the issue of conversion is different. Generally, it is very rare that a member of these communities turn to Islam. Instead there is a great attention to Christianity - Protestant and Catholic - and Buddhism. The tribals are now an ethnic minority and only count for 2% (against 98% of the majority Bengali) and they feel their cultural identity and traditional begin to crumble. Being part of the Islamic world would not bring them any great benefits, so they seek a foothold in those communities which, although relative, have their own strengths and specificities. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for them to turn to Christianity to receive aid, for their children's education, or care for their sick. Other times, the children are the ones who invite their parents to move closer to prayer, after studying in one of the many Christian institutions.

The tribals convert in a group and usually are entire families. For them, the catechumenate is very long and cautious, it has no fixed rules and is based on general guidelines of the Church and the experience of individual missionaries. In some cases, the path can even last 10 years. A Catholic priest told AsiaNews: "There must be a real transformation of life. When someone expresses his desire to become a Christian, I may ask for a whole year for prayer, neither he nor I can make any formal commitment. If they attend, if they learn to pray, then we can begin the journey of formal catechumenate. When formation takes place slowly, it is very rare that converts go back on their choice. And it is wonderful to hear the reasons they give each other on why it is a beautiful thing to be Christian. "

In the past, especially with the Protestant churches, "hasty" conversions have caused problems worse than those that pushed the tribals to conversion, creating individuals, alone and disconnected from society. The problems and the greatest pressure, in fact, are not so much from the Bengalis - who generally ignore them - but from their own communities. When a family or a group decides to become Christian, it is experienced as a betrayal of their own culture and the converts meet with real discrimination: they are excluded from the meetings of the village government, forbidden to take water from the communal well, given no help when in difficulty.

From a legal standpoint, the conversion process is very simple: the law provides that convert goes to a notary presenting a written signed document, in which it states they have changed their religion for personal reasons, suffered no pressure , of their own free will. For any Christian, Buddhist or Hindu who wishes to become a Muslim, the procedure is almost a formality. In contrast, for a Muslim is not unusual to encounter pressure from the notary, who sometimes even refuses (illegally) to register the deed.

In all this, there is the position of the Church and the Catholic community, which is very prudent and even, sometimes, severe. Besides the understandable dissatisfaction if a young person decides to convert to Islam, those who choose to marry a Muslim without leaving Christianity experience great hardness. The church even provides the opportunity to receive a waiver from the practice of worship under certain conditions (which must be accepted by her husband), but the majority of the local clergy refuse to concede this.

The Church is ultimately cautious to accept conversions from Islam because of two main risks: the social pressure experienced by these people, who face obstacles of every kind, not least physical violence, creating a sort of limbo, where the converts find it difficult to fit into the new community (who looks at them with suspicion) and the rejection of the original one. The result, especially when it comes to "hasty" conversions, is of having unconvinced waverers rather than people born again in Christ.

While there is no official data, it is estimated that every year thousands of people in Bangladesh are converting to Catholicism.


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 Post subject: Re: Asia news
PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2012 6:59 pm 
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ASIA NEWS

06/09/2012 SAUDI ARABIA
Jeddah: 35 Ethiopian Christians still in prison after praying in a private home
They were arrested in December 2011. Despite US pressures, Saudi authorities deny religion was the motive behind their detention. Since 2006, praying in private has been allowed in Saudi Arabia.
Jeddah (AsiaNews/ Agencies) - Thirty-five Ethiopian Christians will remain in jail in Jeddah. They were arrested in December 2011 when they were caught praying in a private home. On Thursday, International Christian Concern (ICC), a US-based Christian rights group, appealed for their release, noting contradictions in...


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 Post subject: Re: Asia news
PostPosted: Thu Aug 15, 2013 9:18 am 
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NEW PRAYER BULLETIN: INDIA AMENDMENT August 14, 2013
Dear Friends:

A new Prayer Bulletin entitled "India Amendment" has been added.

A proposed amendment to the "Freedom of Religion" law in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh poses a threat to potential converts to Christianity. Under the amendment, both a prospective convert and the minister who wishes to preside over a conversion ceremony would be required to provide a one-month advance notice to the district magistrate. It would also increase punishment (a three- to four-year prison term) and fines for non-compliance. ...


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