Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Chittagong Hill Tracts killings spark panic
Roads blockaded as tensions rise following murder of four activistsThe peace accord of 1997 was opposed by some activists who called it a 'document of surrender'
- ucanews.com reporters, CHT and Dhaka
- May 23, 2011
Four activists of the United People‚Äôs Democratic Front, including one of its leaders, were gunned down on Saturday in Rangamati district.
The incident once again threatens to derail the peace process following an accord signed in 1997 between the indigenous people‚Äôs political party, Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS), and the then-Awami League government that ended 22 years of guerrilla warfare.
The UPDF, however, was formed by a dissident group of students, women activists and political leaders opposed to the accord, which they describe as a "document of surrender."
The group has accused rival pro-accord group PCJSS of orchestrating the killing, which the PCJSS deny.
The UPDF enforced a daylong blockade on roads and waterways from early morning today in the district. It is demanding the arrest of the killers and the resignation of PCJSS chief Santu Larma as CHT Regional Council chairman.
The demonstration, which threatens to turn violent at any time, has spread alarm through the community of 1,500 Protestant and 500 Catholic Christians in the district.
‚ÄúWe fear more unrest and anarchy in the hills. UPDF has often threatened us to stop all kinds of religious activities and it will become desperate now,‚ÄĚ said Birbadan Chakma, 32, Rangamati district head of the protestant Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship (BBCF).
Chakma added that UPDF often accused them of converting tribal Buddhists to Christianity. They deny that.
Chakma said that in 2009 some BBCF followers were beaten by UPDF activists and in 2010 a Church was burnt down when ethnic tribal people and Bengali settlers clashed.
Clinton Chakma, a protestant pastor, said he has stopped preaching as he was being threatened.
‚ÄúThey (UPDF activists) say that only Buddhists and tribal people can stay in the hills and others should go,‚ÄĚ he said.
Father Elias Mondol who takes care of 500 Catholics at Church of St. Joseph in Rangamati said that he was dismayed by the recent killings but neither hen or local Catholics had been threatened by anyone and the situation was normal.
Media reports suggest Bangladesh's home ministry is ‚Äėseriously considering‚Äô imposing a ban on UPDF, accusing it of recent instabilities in the CHT which might compound the problems.
There are about 20,000 mostly ethnic tribal Christians among 1.5 million people in three hill districts.
Mass human rights violations, says report
Church burnt in wake of attacks on hilltribes