Bangladeshi Christians facing human rights abuses almost daily, report finds

Christians and other members of religious minorities in Bangladesh face human rights abuses almost daily, and the government has failed to protect them from these incidents, according to a new report by UK-based Minority Rights Group International (MRGI).

(Reuters/Andrew Biraj)People attend a sit-in protest at Shahbagh intersection, demanding capital punishment for Bangladesh's Jamaat-e-Islami senior leader Abdul Quader Mollah, after a war crimes tribunal sentenced him to life imprisonment, in Dhaka, February 6, 2013.

A couple of weeks ago, MRGI released a report titled "Under Threat: The Challenges Facing Religious Minorities in Bangladesh," which says religious minority groups have been targeted in a string of violent attacks since 2013. These incidents of abuse include abduction, sexual assault, arson, and seizure of properties, Sights Magazine relays.

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"Whether authored by domestic militant groups or by international armed extremist organisations such as Islamic State (IS), who have claimed responsibility for many of these incidents, the authorities have singularly failed to protect its Ahmadi, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and Shi'a Muslim communities from these attacks, as well as regular incidents of communal violence," MRGI says in its report.

In light of its findings, MRGI has called on judicial authorities and law enforcement agencies to do something to better protect religious minorities in Bangladesh. The report notes that many of the previous abuses seem to have been done with the involvement of these authorities.

Despite the incidents of persecution, Christianity in Bangladesh continues to grow. Around 91,000 Muslims have become Christians in the last six years, Christian Freedom International (CFI) reported earlier this year.

Muslims comprise 90 percent of the population in Bangladesh, and minority Christians only make up less than one percent. It is thought the conversion of many Muslims to Christianity accounts for the rising persecution in the South Asian country.

CFI notes that most of the murders and attacks targeting Christians — especially those that happen in rural regions — are seldom reported. The minority Christians also reportedly cannot rely on the police for protection. For instance, when three Muslim men hacked a Hindu store owner to death in April and when a U.S. AID worker and his friend were killed in Dhaka, no one was arrested.

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