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Bangladesh unrest triggers change

By February 20, 2013

Bangladesh (MNN) — The unrest in the streets of Dhaka is thought to be the largest demonstration in Bangladesh in two decades.

Protesters have been demanding harsher punishments for war criminals. Specifically, they're asking for an amendment that allows the retrial of politicians charged with war crimes.

On Monday, Bangladesh's president signed a new law that gives the tribunal the power to try entire organizations for war crimes, which could allow the government to effectively outlaw the Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh's largest Islamist party. The concern is that the move will increase the tensions between the country's Islamists and secularists.

The protests started in the capital and spread to Chittagong and Sylhet. So far, although one demonstrator was killed by police, most of the protests have been peaceful. By Monday, much of the agitation seemed to have settled, although the tensions remain high.

Meanwhile, schools, businesses, and other agencies have re-opened, including Compassion International projects. The latest report Tuesday indicated that all Compassion-assisted families and staff members are safe.

The ministry's work began in June 2004. They're partnering with the local churches to assist the child sponsorship programs. So far, more than 16,600 children are registered in 99 child development centers. Together, they provide Bangladeshi children with the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all God created them to be. Fostering a child's relationship with God by teaching biblical ethics and worldview is one of their foremost objectives.

Compassion's presence is important in Bangladesh due to predominant Islam. Hinduism is the second-largest religion in the country, and Christianity is practiced by less than 1% of the population.

Approximately 70% of the children attending child development programs in Bangladesh are from non-Christian families, and the centers are the only places where many will hear about Jesus Christ.

Although the pressure seems to have lessened, the conflicts are seething. Please pray for the continued protection of the Compassion-assisted families and staff members throughout Bangladesh.

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