Voting took place yesterday in 56 Union Parishad, the country’s smallest administrative units. There are 4,554 in Bangladesh. “Once we were forced to flee to India because of persecution by Muslims. Later we realised that to save ourselves as a minority in this country, we had to get involved in politics,” said Protestant leader.
Tangail (AsiaNews) – More than 25 Christian Garo ran for Union Parishad (rural councils), and 11 were elected yesterday.
This is an extraordinary outcome, considering that the Christian community of Bangladesh is not very active in politics. In fact, Jewel Areng, and ethnic Garo, is the only MP in the 350-member parliament. He is also the youngest.
Tribal Christians ran in eight parishad in Madhupur, Tangail district, in Mymensingh diocese. All are members of the ruling Awami League.
They are: Tushar Rema, Sanjoy Mankin, Lawrance Nokrek, Ronjit Nokrek, Bikshon Nokrek, Probir Nokrek Chandro Bormon, Binesh Rema, Jhuma Rani Bormon, Farun Nokrek, Tirala Chiran and Archna Norkek. Three of them are women.
Their victory is an important turning point for Bangladesh, an Islamic majority country, with a population of about 160 million.
Despite the urging of Church hierarchies, Christians are generally not involved in politics. But for tribal Garo, things are different.
"We Garo believe that Bangladesh is our country,” said Subhro Arang, a Protestant leader, speaking to AsiaNews.
“Once we were forced to flee to India because of persecution by Muslims. Later we realised that to save ourselves as a minority in this country, we had to get involved in politics. That is why many Christian Garo take part in political activities. Success in local government elections is the outcome."
The vote took place in 56 Union Parishad, the country’s smallest administrative unit. There are 4,554 of them in Bangladesh.
Legally, each has nine wards and is governed by a president and 12 members, including three seats reserved for women.
"We know politics,” said Arang. “We are aware that in order to ensure our civil rights we must get involved actively in parties."