This church was ostensibly destroyed because it was being constructed in a forest reserve. However, one of the local Christians noted that numerous activities that are genuinely illegal take place in the forest reserve: “Why are illegal activities like cutting down trees and lifting stones from rivers not stopped?” He relates the demolition of the church to persecution of the Christian community: “Can’t we, as a minority, practice our religion properly?”
Muslims make up 90% of the population of Bangladesh; Christians only 0.4%. Christians can expect little sympathy from authorities.
For more ChristianPersecution.com coverage of the persecution of Christians in Bangladesh, see here.
“Tripura Christians angry over church demolition in Bangladesh,” UCA News, March 5, 2021:
Christian leaders in Bangladesh have condemned the demolition of a partly built Protestant church by the Forest Department in a remote hilly area of the country.
Adhirang Tripura, a member of the largely Christian indigenous Tripura community, said Christians are angry and demanding compensation after Forest Department officials destroyed their new church in Sathiram Tripura village after accusing them of illegally occupying a forest reserve.
Forest officials along with 8-10 Muslim civilians tore down the Seventh-day Adventist Church building at Kurukpata Union in the Alikadam area of Bandarban district, one of three hilly, forested districts collectively called the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), on Feb. 25, according to Adhirang, a Baptist Christian and member of the local union council.
“Officials said they demolished the church building because it was being constructed in a forest reserve. But my question is, then why are illegal activities like cutting down trees and lifting stones from rivers not stopped? Can’t we, as a minority, practice our religion properly?” Adhirang told UCA News.
“The destroyed building was not a new church, but an old structure made of bamboo and straw was being replaced with a concrete building with funding from church members.”
If the structure was illegal, it should not have existed for years, he added.
Some 160 Tripura Christians belonging to the Baptist Church or Seventh-day Adventist Church have been living in Bidhymoni Tripura village and Sathiram Tripura village for generations, he explained.
An official from Chittagong Catholic Archdiocese that covers the area also expressed dismay over the church demolition.
“We are worried and terrified over the incident. We also have our churches here and the incident is a bad example. We want justice for this incident and hope the government will compensate the Seventh-day Adventists for it,” the priest told UCA News on condition of anonymity.
Catholic priests working in the CHT are often harassed and questioned by law enforcement agencies when they visit villages to offer pastoral care to the faithful.
“This is unacceptable. All must be free to practice their faith freely,” the priest added….