Targeted intimidation: First attack on Catholic nuns in Bangladesh

cross_CLFor the first time, Catholic nuns have been the target of a concerted, brutal attack in Bangladesh involving a late-night attack by dozens of men that lasted over an hour.

“50 to 60 armed men attacked the Boldipukur mission on July 7 at 2 a.m., and specifically the presbytery, the convent and the hospital,” Bishop Sebastian Tudu of Dinajpur told international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

A bible on the floor of a devastated room at Boldipukur MissThe Bishop continued, “The attack was massive and lasted about an hour and a half. The attackers brutally beat the nuns. But we don’t yet have the details.”

“At the moment the nuns are in Dhaka for medical treatment. The door to the presbytery was broken down, and the pastor was threatened and robbed.”

“The convent was seriously devastated. Only when the police arrived did the attackers leave the mission.”

According to Bishop Tudu, there had to date not been a similar attack in the Diocese of Dinajpur or in Bangladesh as a whole.

“It’s unprecedented because nuns are highly respected in Bangladesh. The attack is obviously a targeted and planned attempt at intimidation.”

“Nuns and priests are being attacked because they stand up for the disadvantaged and minorities.”

“The police are now investigating the case. They have promised to clear it up,” Bishop Tudu said.

He went on to say that the Diocese of Dinajpur had already been the scene of a number of attacks against Christians last year. The attacks had been on villages where Catholics live; a number of men had been attacked.

“A seminary and the seminarians were also attacked. It was always said that the reasons for the attacks had to do with disputes over land and property. The seminary has now been relocated in another diocese.”

“The most recent attack is clearly a targeted response to Catholics’ commitment to the country’s poorest people,” the Bishop of Dinajpur explained.

According to the bishop, 45 priests and more than 100 nuns are working in the diocese, and they now live in fear.

Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity - helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world. The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide. For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384. www.churchinneed.org