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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Still no justice after bomb attack on church in Bangladesh six years ago

By Michael Ireland
Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (ANS) -- 450 people held a candlelight vigil on June 3, 2007 to mark the sixth anniversary of a tragic bomb attack at the Roman Catholic Church of Baniarchar in Bangladesh that killed 10 people.

While the church has remembered this tragedy, it appears that the government has all but forgotten what happened, as no criminal investigation has made any progress since the incident was first reported.

The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC)  has just learned that the victims of the jihadist attack 6 years ago in Bangladesh have still not received justice from the government.

In 2001, unidentified Muslim extremists who are still at large orchestrated a terrible bomb attack during Mass in a Catholic Church in Baniarchar of Gopalgonj district. There were approximately 500 Catholics in attendance at church the morning of June 3, 2001, when the bomb planted by Muslim extremists ripped through the service, killing 10 people and wounding many more.

A case was submitted to the local police station regarding this incident and then sent to the Criminal Investigation Department of Police, but neither office has submitted an investigative report – six years later.

In contrast, the parishioners of the church, which has since been repaired, continue to remember what happened and pray for justice. During the evening of June 3, 2007, a group of Christians gathered at the graveyard of the martyrs and prayed together by candlelight. An ICC representative who attended the service remarked that the whole evening was full of mourning and the sound of the weeping of the martyrs’ relatives.

The names of the martyrs who were killed are: Sanjiban Baroi, Peter Saha, Michael Mollik, Rodrix Jethra, Binod Das, Monnoth Sikdar, Amar Biswas, Jatish Biswas, Jhintu Mondol and Sumon Halder.

The families of these victims have been financially broken since they lost their loved ones, because six of the ten people killed were the only son in the family who could support their family with income. So the victims’ families have been longing for justice from the Government for their murders. At the same time, they are afraid to speak up because they fear that they will make themselves targets for more Jihadist attacks.

Jeremy Sewall, ICC Policy Analyst, said, “The tragedy of this senseless attack is only compounded by the blatant indifference of the Bangladeshi government. Such negligence is simply a way for the author i ties to say to religious minorities – ‘You are not welcome here.’ In the midst of Bangladesh’s current crisis, a good first step towards preserving democracy would be for the government to prove that it will protect minorities by taking action to apprehend and prosecute the Muslim extremists who are behind the tragedy of Baniarchar.”

ICC is requesting that concerned individuals call the Bangladeshi embassy in your country and politely but firmly ask them to pursue justice for the families who lost their loved ones in the bomb attack on the Roman Catholic Church in Baniarchar on June 3, 2001.

Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC
3510 International Drive NW
Washington, DC 20 0 08, USA
Phone: (202)-244-0183
Fax: (202)-244-2771 / 7830

High Commission for Bangladesh, Canada
275 Bank Street, Suite 302
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 2L6
Tel: (613)-236-0138
Fax: (613)-567-3213  

High Commission of Bangladesh, London
28 Queen's Gate
London, SW7 5JA
Tel: 020-7584-0081
Fax: 020-7225-2130

ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC delivers humanitarian aid, trains and supports persecuted pastors, raises awareness in the US regarding the problem of persecution, and is an advocate for the persecuted on Capitol Hill and the State Department. For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.

Contact Jeremy Sewall, Policy Analyst, 1-800-422-5441,  

** Michael Ireland is an international British freelance journalist. A former reporter with a London newspaper, Michael is the Chief Correspondent for ASSIST News Service of Lake Forest, California. Michael immigrated to the United States in 1982 and became a US citizen in September, 1995. He is married with two children. Michael has also been a frequent contributor to UCB Europe, a British Christian radio station. His weblog appears at: Michael's Wor(l)d BLOG

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