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Missing Christian Children Found in Radical Madrasas in Bangladesh

Children Taken Under False Pretenses and Trafficked for Jihad

Washington, D.C. (August 13, 2012)--International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that 80 children from Christian homes in Bangladesh were taken under false pretenses by mullahs (Islamic clerics) to various madrasas (Islamic boarding schools). Attempts were made to forcibly convert them to Islam. Eleven of the children have been rescued, while the whereabouts of the additional 69 remain unknown.

The children come from the Chittagong Hills of Eastern Bangladesh where their Christian faith makes them a minority and the target of overt discrimination. In January and February, the Christian parents each paid 15,000 TK (roughly 250 USD) to individuals who promised to house and educate their children in nearby cities. A quality education in the Chittagong Hills is rare, and parents often do this as a way of providing a future for their children. However, they were unaware that their children would be locked up, physically abused and forced to study Islam.

Parents lost communication with their children almost immediately. After months of conducting their own search, they contacted Hotline Human Rights Trust (HHRT).  “These days I have been very busy with the very disturbing issue of these children,” the Executive Director of the HHRT told ICC. “Their parents did not know where they had been for last seven months until I rescued four [of the] boys. [The mullahs] were taking advantage of poverty and ignorance. They kidnapped [the children] for conversion.”

According to the HHRT director, the rescued children recounted acts of physical abuse when they refused to pray, read the Quran, or learn Arabic. The children went on to explain that they attempted to escape after being told they would be forcibly circumcised. One girl said she was forced to study Arabic six hours a day and participate in Muslim prayers five times a day. “If she was not willing to go for prayer, [they would] beat the palms of her hands,” said the Hotline director. “Both [of her] palms have become hard and reddish.”

Eleven of the children have been safely relocated and are in communication with their families. However, the Hotline staff is still trying to locate an additional 70 Christian children that have reportedly been sold to madrasas from the Chittagong Hills.

Corey Bailey, ICC Regional Manager for Asia, said, “This essentially is the trafficking of Christian children in an attempt to brainwash them, to convert them to Islam, and churn out cannon fodder for Jihad.  ICC believes that human beings should not be bought or sold, and we stand against trafficking for the purpose of conversion. We want the government of Bangladesh to take greater interest in this issue and ensure the safety of Christians, especially those in the hill tribes.”

Please contact the Bangladesh Embassy and kindly ask them to look into the issue of the 80 Christian children who have been reportedly taken from the Chittagong Hills and sold to madrasas.

The Embassy of Bangladesh in Washington, D.C.

3510 International Drive NW                                         Fax: 202-244-2771
Washington, DC 20008                                                     Phone: 202-244-0183   (PABX)

For interviews, contact Corey Bailey, Regional Manager for Asia: RM-Asia@persecution.org.

You are free to disseminate this news story. We request that you reference ICC (International Christian Concern) and include our web address, www.persecution.org. ICC is a Washington-DC based human rights organization that exists to help persecuted Christians worldwide. ICC provides Awareness, Advocacy, and Assistance to the worldwide persecuted Church.  For additional information or for an interview, contact ICC at 800-422-5441.

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