Staff working for Tearfund partners in Bangladesh are on high alert amid increasing political instability that has claimed dozens of lives.
The spark for the trouble has been the passing of a death sentence against the leader of an Islamic party for crimes committed during Bangladesh’s 1971 war of independence.
Since then supporters of the party have clashed with the security forces and about 60 people, including three police officers, have been killed. Homes have been destroyed, rail lines attacked and troops deployed to trouble hotspots.
Tearfund partner Koinonia says its staff have been stopped by demonstrators as they were travelling to make field visits. Although unharmed, extra precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of such visits.
Mark Rajib Halder, Executive Director of Koinonia, said, ‘We are very concerned about the present situation.
‘We ask for prayer support in this critical period while the whole country is in deep crisis. Pray especially for minority groups as they always become targets during such times.’
Suchitra Behera, Tearfund’s Country Representative for Bangladesh, has also had to abandon field visits when confronted by impromptu road blocks and demonstrators.
Suchitra said, ‘Right now the country is going through a bad time of violence. We had to cancel trips to see projects due to a general strike which is very frustrating. Strikes are also worrying news for poor people as they are not able to go out to work.’