Bangladesh Christians Captured, Forced to Return to Buddhism

By Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent with BosNewsLife Asia Service

Christians in Bangladesh face hardship and persecution in several areas, rights activists say.


CHITTAGONG, BANGLADESH (BosNewsLife) -- Buddhist extremists held eight Chakma Christians for four days to force them to return to Buddhism, BosNewsLife learned Saturday, September 25.

The Buddhists held a pastor, a church secretary, a village leader and five members from a Baptist church in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, said Caroline Anderson , a well-informed writer in Asia for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, a major mission group.

The captives were all forced to wear Buddhist robes, shave their heads, bow down before a statue of Buddha and clean the temple; they were also threatened with beatings and even death if they tried to escape, she reported.

TEMPLE CONFINED

Detained August 23, they were initially told they would be confined to the temple for one to two weeks, but after four days the Christian captives were released provided they remained Buddhist, missionaries said.

"They are not allowed to pray to Jesus, nor read Bibles, but they say they are still Christian in their hearts," added a missionary who did not want to use her real name amid security concerns. Despite the difficulties, 10 new Chakma churches have been established with about 300 Chakmas professing their faith in Jesus, Christians said.

These and other Chakma Christians are often caught in the crossfire when violence arises between Bangladeshi Muslims and other groups over land disputes. "The extremists do not feel that the Christians are actively supporting their goals of preserving the Chakma society, since Christians are primarily focused on sharing the Gospel," the missionary added.

In April, the same Buddhists who held the eight Chakma Christians reportedly took three Chakma Christians captive forcing them to wear robes, shave their heads and worship the Buddha. They were given one month to renounce Christianity and return to Buddhism, Christians said.

DEATH THREATS

Christians in the area face death threats and Buddhist extremists have forbidden them to read the Bible or pray, missionaries said. They are reportedly also not allowed to enter Buddhist villages, use bridges, ferries, or roads. Chakma Christians have also been banned from buying food or sell crops, and Buddhist merchants face fines when selling to Christians, missionaries said.

Believers who have the money and means reportedly flee their homes.

"Only when the Chakma Christians appear outwardly as Buddhists in their dress and do not openly pray, read the Bible or evangelize can they peacefully live in their villages while their children attend school," a missionary said. Security forces reportedly view the situation as a local problem within the Chakma people that does not impact the Muslim people.

Leaders of the Bangladesh Baptist Christian Fellowship have tried to meet with the Buddhists to bring an end to the persecution, but to date they haven't had any success, local Christians said.

By Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent with BosNewsLife Asia Service

CHITTAGONG, BANGLADESH (BosNewsLife) -- Buddhist extremists held eight Chakma Christians for four days to force them to return to Buddhism, BosNewsLife learned Saturday, September 25.

6 thoughts on “Bangladesh Christians Captured, Forced to Return to Buddhism

  1. You can definitely see your skills in the work you write. The arena hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to mention how they believe. All the time follow your heart.

  2. I have friend who wants to know who the ” extremist Buddhist” as a group who are they buddhist believers in a particular community, buddhist monks, buddhist soldiers, buddhist police. I personally think this is a great story, and posted it on my Facbook for Christians to pray, but this was the response from 1 person and a Christian also tended not to believe the story as well. They also questioned the sourcce being only Christian. Disheartening but true.

  3. CHT is a vast region, specific reference of the area where the incident alleged to have occurred would have been helpful to have this sort of undesirable incident in check. I am a Chakma but don’t belong to any specific faiths and as per as I am concerned, Christian and Buddhist Chakma communities in CHT co-exist peacefully for centuries and sign of extreme Buddhism has rarely been seen as a cause of concerns.

  4. Now, this is news! The only way that darkness can be dispelled is by shedding light on it. Organizations that shed light on injustice should subscribe to this newsletter and put down their political agendas. What affects on people group affects us all.

  5. This just shows that the spirit behind Buddhism is threatened by “competition”. I would like to see this information brought out when people criticize Christians and call us all “intolerant”. Most of the Christians that they are referring to as intolerant persecuted other Christians as well.

  6. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

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