Muslim settlers have burned down a mostly Buddhist, Hindu and Christian indigenous village in rural Bangladesh.
Dozens of indigenous people were injured and driven from Ragipara in the mountain district of Rangamati, Diocese of Chittagong, Fides reports citing the local Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace.
On 17 February more than 300 Muslim settlers, who intend to take possession of new lands for agriculture, organised a punitive expedition against the village inhabited by indigenous people.
The settlers were backed by local police who legitimised the violence. Other similar cases also took place recently in the area of Gulishakhali.
The Muslim settlers allegedly acted on the pretext of the death of their comrade, Ali Saber, found dead in the Ragiparam, and staged a violent reaction, trampling on the rights of minorities, Fides says.
“They set fire to our homes and our small shops,” an eyewitness told Fides.
For some time Muslim settlers have been seeking to force out the local non-Muslim ethnic groups, to acquire new agricultural land. In many cases they have succeeded, because nobody, not even the civil authorities, respects and guarantees the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.
Lawyer, King Devasish Roy, also a tribal member, wrote an open letter to the civil authorities and to the National Commission for Human Rights for Bangladesh, reporting the incident and noting “the complicity of the police.”
The letter called for an investigation into the incident in Ragipara including the identification and punishment of the guilty, urging the Government to protect and safeguard the rights of citizens, members of ethnic or religious minorities.
A village burned down, tribal Christians forced out by Muslim settlers