In Bangladesh, the alleged kidnapping of a pastor and his daughter from a refugee camp for the Myanmarese Rohingya people is bringing to light a series of alleged human rights violations committed on Christians there.
According to the U.K. Daily Mail, the pastor and his daughter were abducted after a mob beat and robbed members of the Christian faith.
The Rohingya people are the most visible of the tribes that have been persecuted by the despotic government in Myanmar. For the most part, the Rohingya are Muslim.
However, a small minority are other faiths, including Christian.
In the Bangladesh camp in Cox’s Bazaar, roughly 700,000 of the Rohingya are Muslim, while another 1,500 are Christian.
“Taher, a Rohingya Christian pastor, and his 14-year-old daughter were abducted from their shelter in a refugee camp in Bangladesh on the morning of January 27. The previous night scores of men attacked 22 Christian families living in Kutupalong Camp 2 in Cox’s Bazaar,” the group reported.
“The attackers beat up residents, vandalized homes, and looted personal property in the sprawling Rohingya refugee camp. At least 12 Rohingya Christian refugees were injured and hospitalized following the attack. A makeshift Christian church and school were also smashed. After the attack the families relocated to a United Nations transit center and filed a police case against 59 alleged assailants.”
“No one can give me any clear information, but my relatives told me that my daughter has been forced to convert to Islam and marry,” Taher’s wife, Roshida, said.
The attacks were allegedly carried out by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, a semi-Islamist Rohingya ethno-nationalist group that’s reportedly been previously supported, in part, by Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service.
ARSA has denied the attacks and condemned those who carried it out, saying that it hurt the cause for Rohingya rights.
Despite this, the violence was being described by Bangladeshi authorities as an “ordinary law-and-order incident,” according to BenarNews.
The sympathies of camp officials haven’t exactly been aroused, either.
One man told HRW that the camp authorities “try to avoid our queries,” while another said that if the victims wanted to be safe, they should “go to the moon.”
“Rohingya Christians have previously reported facing threats and violence in the camps,” HRW reported.
“The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, has expressed her concern for Rohingya Christian refugees who are facing ‘hostility and violence.’ The Bangladesh authorities should urgently locate Taher and his daughter and bring those responsible to justice. The government should also act immediately to protect all vulnerable groups in the country’s refugee camps, including religious minorities like Rohingya Christians.”
That’s unlikely to happen when you consider the Bangladeshi authorities aren’t actually acknowledging this took place at all.
“We haven’t found any evidence of any missing Christian Rohingya,” case investigator Inspector Samir Chandra Sarker told BenarNews. “But we are trying our best to find the missing family.”
Christian families in the camp report this is, to some extent, for lack of trying.
“We haven’t yet found any trace of Taher [and his family],” 28-year-old Christian refugee named Zohar said.
“We reported [their abduction] to police and also informed the camp in charge, but no effective measures were taken.”
The plight of the Rohingya Muslims is truly horrifying and one that the world, quite rightly, has condemned; any kind of ethnic cleansing is rebarbative, particularly the type practiced in Myanmar.
What often gets lost in the shuffle, however, is the persecution of Christians in Myanmar and elsewhere.
Beyond the plight of the Rohingya Christians in Cox’s Bazaar is the persecution of Myanmar’s Chin people, a mostly Christian ethnic group that’s also faced severe persecution and has a large refugee diaspora.
Yes, they’re smaller in number. Have you heard of them? No — and their persecution is just as acute.
It’s not just Myanmar.
Talking about those facing subjugation for living out their religious faith should never be impolitic, no matter what faith it is.
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