New cases of child trafficking and forced conversions have emerged from the Chhittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh. For the past 7 years, police in Bangladesh have been battling with religious fanatics attempting to traffic minority children, inducing Christians, and forcefully convert them to Islam. According to reports, police were able to rescue four children in New Year’s Day in a raid on a hotel in Bandarban. Will Bangladesh continue to battle these traffickers?
01/05/2017 Bangladesh (UNPO) – Over the past seven years, the Bangladeshi police has rescued 72 children from a crime ring led by religious fanatics. According to its investigations, the group targets underprivileged indigenous communities most of whose members are Christians, Hindus or Buddhists. The religious extremists belonging to these crime ring entice parents with prospects of a better future for their children, which then end up in madrasas around the country to be forcefully converted to Islam.
Indigenous communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts are often already victims of land-grabbing and displacement. The forced religious conversion of young children adds yet another facet to the already severe marginalization of ethnic and religious minorities in Southeast Bangladesh. A human rights advocate interviewed by the Dhaka Tirbune urges leaders of communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts to create awareness for these criminal activities among their people to avoid them being misled by child-traffickers.
The article below was published by the Dhaka Tribune:
There is an alarming presence of forced religious conversion of indigenous children at the hands of radicals in Bandarban.
Muslim fanatics seduce underprivileged families with scopes of a better education and lifestyle for their children, and forcefully convert the children in madrasas in Dhaka without their parents’ knowledge.
Over the past seven years, police have rescued 72 children from this crime ring.
Investigation has revealed that a Machiavellian group has initiated some members of the indigenous community and sustained them financially in order to manipulate them. These new initiates go from door-to-door in underprivileged, indigenous households which are predominantly Christian or Hindu in around seven upazilas.
The neo-converts enroll the children in madrasas around the country where they are indoctrinated and converted.
On Sunday night [1 January 2017], police raided a residential hotel in Bandarban district town and rescued four indigenous children and arrested two involved in the crime ring.