Christians in Bangladesh Face Human Rights Abuses 'Almost Daily,' Report Reveals

An injured member of the police personnel is carried away by his colleagues, after gunmen stormed a restaurant popular with expatriates in the diplomatic quarter of the Bangladeshi capital, in Dhaka on July 1, 2016.Reuters

Christians and other religious minority groups in Bangladesh have been experiencing persecution "almost daily" from different fronts—from terrorists to their own Muslim neighbours — for the past three years, a new report revealed.

The non-governmental organisation Minority Rights Group International based in the United Kingdom released a report this week entitled "Under Threat: The challenges facing religious minorities in Bangladesh."

The document collated daily attacks suffered by Christians and other minority groups—including Buddhists, Hindus and Shi'a Muslims—from January to September this year, and noted a rising trend, Sight Magazine reported.

"Violence against Christians has continued, enabled in part by their marginalised position within Bangladeshi society," the report stated.

Christians make up only 0.3 percent of the population in the South Asian country, which is dominated by Sunni Muslims. Overall, religious minorities represent just 9.6 percent of the population.

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The continued persecution of Christians in Bangladesh is mainly attributed to land disputes, according to the study.

"Christians are attacked for their land and property, and the attackers are backed by all political parties. They think Christians are a minuscule minority, weak and unable to protest and resist," the report elaborated.

It further said that Christians have been increasingly targeted by extremist groups including the outlawed Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh, which has sent death threats to targeted believers.

Carl Soderbergh, the Minority Rights Group International director of policy and communications, said the increasing attacks on Christians and other religious minorities in the Muslim-dominated country "have highlighted how vulnerable minorities are to attacks, but their situation is also informed by wider structural issues within Bangladeshi society."

Worse, the Bangladeshi government has "singularly failed" in addressing the attacks on Christians.

To be able to address these attacks, the organisation said there is a need for a "wider process of social transformation...to challenge stereotypes and champion respect for all beliefs."

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