Bangladeshi Catholic Widow seeking for Justice and peace

Laili Costa, a young Catholic woman, living in the Catholic parish of the Holy Rosary church under the Archdiocese of Dhaka, became destitute when her husband Joacem Costa was shot dead by unidentified thugs in the Sadhon Para area of Dhaka.

Laili Costa said, “My husband left me and my two daughters. What he earned hardly supported our family, and he did not leave any savings. The owner of our previous home had already kicked us out from there, and we had just found a second home. The owner there is going to kick us out within days. I will not be able to have Christmas with my children.”

She went on, “I am striving daily for my small children. My elder daughter was kicked out of school, since I cannot pay the tuition fees, and my younger daughter is suffering from serious malnutrition; she could die at any time.”

With extreme fear and tears in her eyes, Laili Costa said, “On July 14, 2009, around 9:35, I got a call from one of my neighbors that my husband was shot by thugs in the Sadhon Para area. I immediately called my husband’s younger brother, Leo Costa, and rushed to the place. As I reached the place, I did not find my husband. He had been taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital.”

She continued, “An eye witness said that a group of highly armed people came and shot a gun once, and my husband asked them, ‘Why you are doing this? Don’t kill me, I have a family and a wife and small kids.’ He begged, ‘For the sake of Jesus and my family, don’t kill me. What do you want?’ Then they shot three times.”

(Photo/Dipal Barua)

(Photo/Dipal Barua)

She said, “My husband fell down in the road and asked people for help, saying ‘Please take me to the hospital’ and ‘Call my family’, but no one came forward to help. I went to police, but as I cannot give a bribe, the local police officer Mohamed Moinul Islam, who is the investigation officer of the case, is not properly investigating the case.”

Leo Costa said, “I filed a case with local police. I am afraid the thugs who killed my brother may kill me also.”

Local police inspector Moinul Islam told Asia News that the killing was cloaked in mystery and police are still investigating the case.

The parish priest of Holy Rosary church said, “I heard about this sad incident, may his soul rest in peace. We have a parish with more than 20,000 Catholics who also have a lot of problems and needs. We are trying to help this Laili Costa with spiritual guidance, but we do not have the ability to help her and her kids financially.”

Surviving members of Joacem Costa's family, wife Laili Costa and two daughters. (Photo/Dipal Barua)

Surviving members of Joacem Costa's family, wife Laili Costa and two daughters. (Photo/Dipal Barua)

Catholic human rights activist Annie halder said that persecution against Catholics is growing, and that previously a family was gunned down in the Kafrul area of Dhaka.

A Catholic priest, Joseph Arsenault, the parochial vicar at St. Bridget’s Church in Abington in the Archdiocese of Boston, said about the case: “First of all, it is a shame that such a crime happened in the first place. To take a life is just wrong. Secondly, the fact that the wife, who I assume is an innocent person in all of this, becomes a victim twice. She loses her husband, and now she loses her home and means of support. As Christians, the community, I hope, is there to support her so she does not end up on the street. As Matthew’s gospel tell us, we are obliged to feed those who are in need and make sure the most vulnerable are taken care of. Justice would also demand that the killer of her husband should face the courts.”

Ronjon Palma, a young Christian, showing the place where Costa's body was found. (Photo/Dipal Barua)

Ronjon Palma, a young Christian, showing the place where Costa's body was found. (Photo/Dipal Barua)

Joseph Arsenault told Asia News, “I will be offering the Holy Sacrifice of Mass for her intentions and that of her family on Dec. 1st.”