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08/02/2019 Bangladesh (International Christian Concern)- On July 31st, in the Bangladeshi town of Bandarban, priest, nuns and lay Catholics, staged a peaceful protest to demand the return of their land that was allegedly stolen from them by a local Buddhist monk. The protest was well attended and even Buddhists and Muslims in the area joined to help demand justice for the unfair treatment of the Christians. The group also submitted a petition to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to draw his attention to the issue.

The protest was attended by about 200 people who formed a human chain in front of the Press Club of the Chittagong Hills Tracts. The petition was submitted through the district’s chief government officer to seek Prime Minister Hasina’s intervention.

The Buddhist monk, U Cha Hla Bhante, allegedly seized the land as far back as 2014 and even though several efforts were made to attempt to regain it, Bhante continues to use his prowess to hold on to it. The total amount of land he grabbed is about 40 hectares of which 2.3 belongs to the Catholic Church and a larger yet unknown percentage belongs to individual Christians.

We have asked for support from government officials, taken legal action and held press conferences but Bhante is very powerful, so nothing is working. So, now we are appealing the PM to pay attention to our suffering,” the priest told ucanews.com.

Land grabbing has been a problem for religious minorities in Bangladesh for many years. In 2018, thousands of Christians cried out for change but it continues to remain a problem. The catholic church in Bangladesh started demanded the return of their land as far back as five years ago, but the lack of adequate support leaves them vulnerable and nearly powerless.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org.