Archbishop Moses M. Costa, C.S.C., D.D.- Metropolitan Archbishop of Chittagong Photos by: Sohel Sorwar, Banglanews24.com
Chittagong is just elevated to the rank of Metropolitan Archdiocese hence was overwhelmed with joy. Recent occurrence in neighboring country Myanmar wiped the joy of Catholics in Chittagong and made them sad and anxious!
The occurrence in Myanmar is axing into the heart of world humanity. The brutal attack on civilian children, women and men in the name of action against militancy is fully unjust. Can we imagine, at what level of persecution people need to leave their homeland and flee to another country with less hope for the future! There are hundred thousands of bloods shedding & heart breaking stories in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf which are waiting to be told to the world. Not only being killed by the Myanmar armies, boat sinking in the rumble sea is the name of another horror for these refugees while crossing the border of Myanmar. Dead bodies are being found in the Naf River on every single day! Lucky they are who became refugees in Bangladesh as family! But there are more women who lost their husbands and could manage to come to Bangladesh only with their children! Many mothers witnessed their children being killed by the army, died of hunger on the way to Bangladesh! Most terrific over every situation is thousands of children fled to Bangladesh completely parentless! Their parents are either dead or lost! Most of these children are traumatized! Bangladeshis are going speechless hearing these orphans’ cries.
Like other religions, Christianity is also a religion of peace. We cannot support blood shedding and killing. His Holiness Pope Francis always taking His stands for the oppressed, deprived and people in the peripheries. He expressed His concern regarding the incident taking place in Myanmar. I, as the Metropolitan Archbishop of Chittagong, on be-half of my laity, religious and clergy also express our stand against the violence against humanity in Rakhaine, Myanmar. Catholics of Chittagong Archdiocese is urging to stop this ethnic cleansing operation and take back the refugees from Bangladesh with proper dignity as Myanmar nationals.
The efforts of the Government of Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh and its nationals to assist the refugees with compassionate hearts are praiseworthy. Catholics also extended their assistance for them. ‘Caritas’, the social organization of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh is already in the process to support the refugees by food and non-food items. In South Asia Bangladesh is moving forward with agenda of peace, in which Myanmar’s assistance is mandatory. Rakhaine State issue may disturb this agenda and relationship between Myanmar and Bangladesh.
During the liberation war in 1971, we the Bangladeshis witnessed the pain and bitterness of being refugee. Being nostalgic and out of human emotion, Bangladesh could not close her border for refugees. We need to ensure safe zones for the refugees from Rakhaine until and unless the problems are solved in Myanmar. But surely it is not a permanent solution. Bangladesh is already overburdened with her huge population. Myanmar must have to accept the refugees as their nationals. Guaranteed basic rights as Myanmar nationals may inspire the refugees to return to their homeland. The local government authorities should keep vigilance so that the refugees cannot mix up with the mainstream population, do not engage in anti-social activities out of poverty. Environment and beauty of tourist city Cox’s Bazar is also a priority concern in this crisis. Cox’s Bazar is our tourism icon to the world and many lives are dependent on its tourism economy.
Chittagong Archdiocese as well as the Catholic Church in Bangladesh has been working for integral development of the Country. We are afraid that the delayed solution of this crisis will affect our development.
We pray to God for a peaceful solution of Rakhaine State Crisis and give us patience and tolerance to bear with the refugees.