Three government ministers attending the fourth national council of the country’s largest inter-denominational Christian forum over the weekend have vowed to examine several of their demands.
“The nation can’t deny the direct and indirect contributions of the Christian community in Bangladesh’s education, health and socio-economic and moral development, including the country’s liberation war in 1971,” said Bangladesh Christian Association (BCA) president and state minister for cultural affairs Promod Mankin on Saturday.
Mankin, a tribal Garo Catholic, added that various Christian institutions are among the finest in the country and that the government should pay heed to Christian views.
BCA secretary-general Nirmol Rozario handed Mankin, home minister Shamsul Haque Tuku and religious affairs minister Shahjahan Miah 10 demands to present to the government.
These included declaring Easter Sunday a national holiday, an allocation of seats in parliament and in the cabinet and revoking discriminatory land ownership transfer processes.
In his address, Tuku said Christians, like all other people in the country, should be allowed to enjoy their rights equally, adding that the BCA demands are legitimate.
“We all shed blood for liberation of the country. The term ‘minority’ should be avoided and all should have equal dignity as well,” the home minister said.
Miah echoed his colleague’s speech and assured the gathering that the association’s demands will be duly addressed.
“Bangladesh has been a non-communal country since the beginning where we can exercise our right equally,” the religious affairs minister added.
Vincent Rozario, a BCA activist from Gazipur, near Dhaka, said that the gathering was very important in that it sent a message that Christians in the country should be taken seriously and listened to.