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Monday, July 26, 2010

Introduce special govt system for CHT- Shantu Larma urgues Govt

Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Regional Council Chairman Jyotirindra Bodhiprio Larma alias Santu Larma called upon the government to introduce a special governing system in the CHT region by amending the constitution.

He said a 'different reality' would surely emerge in the region, if the High Court verdict scrapping the CHT Council Act is upheld by the Supreme Court.

Therefore, the government would have to take initiatives to amend the constitution to make the CHT Council Act and CHT District Council Act effective.

Santu Larma was speaking at a regional workshop on 'Land problem in the CHT and measures to overcome' at Rangamati district sports council auditorium.

CHT Forest and Land Rights Movement, Kapeng Foundation and Khagrachhari Headman Association organised the two-day workshop.

Criticising the CHT land commission chairman, Santu Larma said he was making the things complicated instead of resolving the problems.

Presided over by CHT Forest and Land Rights Movement President Goutam Dewan, the workshop was also addressed by Chakma Circle Chief Raja Debashish Roy, Bomang Rajkumar Chalapru Chowdhury Jimi and Khagrachhari Headman Association President

Shaktipada Tripura.

Professionals from Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban are taking part in the workshop.


source: thedailystar.

Poverty acute in CHT than in any part of the country

'Poverty acute in CHT than Monga prone areas in north'

BSS, Dhaka

The rate of poverty among ethnic minorities in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) is apparently more acute than that of the people in the Monga-prone plain lands in the north, reveals a study in the city on Tuesday.

The study, conducted over 1,012 households in greater Rangpur as well as Bandarban and Rangamati in 2009-10, said around 65 percent of study population in CHT was found living below the poverty line, compared to nearly 60 percent of plain lands.

Unlike Chakma tribe, the study said, the literacy rate among the ethnic group was also poor compared to people living in Monga areas, one of the country's poorest parts where erosion from river Jamuna and its tributaries renders thousands homeless every year.

The study, done under joint sponsorship of the government and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, says the problem of monga, a seasonal unemployment and food crisis, has subsided partially in greater Rangpur and parts of Pabna, but permanent solution to it is far from sight.

It said the total vulnerability to poverty and food crisis for the people in the north was found to be much higher than that of the people in the hill tracts because of high variability of food consumption in greater Rangpur.

"Although the rate of poor in CHT areas is higher, the number of hardcore poor people, who consume food that contains less than 1,800 kilo calorie, was higher in the north," Prof Rezai Karim Khandker, principal investigator of the study, said at the warp- up session of two-day workshop in the city today.

Food Planning and Monitoring Unit of Ministry of Food and FAO jointly organized the workshop to review the findings from 11 researches done under grants from a project titled 'National Food Policy Capacity Strengthening Programme'.

Food and Disaster Management Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque on Monday formally opened the workshop, where US Ambassador to Bangladesh James F Moriarty also spoke.

Rezai Karim, also head of economics department of Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST), said the poverty in CHT was partially minimized by the ethnic group themselves because of their dependence on both agriculture and non- agriculture jobs.

In contrast, he said, the people of the north have no other options but to depend on agriculture in the Monga-prone areas. The over-dependence on agriculture coupled with river erosion have outweighed the advantages of the people of the north than that of the CHT.

He said severe food insecurity persists in the monga-prone areas, where social safety net coverage from the government should be widened and strengthened along with raising awareness among the people on health and nutrition.

As mid-term solution, he said, the agriculture extension department should diversify agro-based products in the areas to raise poor people's income and inspire them to send all their kid to schools. The river erosion should be checked and labour- intensive industries can be set up as a long-term solution, he observed.

FAO headquarters representative Kostas Stamoulis, who supervises the all researches under NFPCSP, said non-agricultural interventions such as poultry farming and fisheries need to be recognized side by side with agricultural interventions to offset poverty.

courtesy: http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2010/07/14/news0272.htm

Friday, July 23, 2010

Reception to Debashis Roy - 'Recognise rights of hill people, implement deal'

Reception to Debashis Roy

'Recognise rights of hill people, implement deal'

Chakma Circle chief Raja Debashish Roy receives a gift from PCJSS chief Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma (popularly known as Santu Larma), also chairman of Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council, at a reception in Rangamati town yesterday.Photo: STAR
Our Correspondent, Rangamati

Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, CHT unit, yesterday accorded a warm reception to chief of Chakma Circle Barrister Raja Debashis Roy as he was recently elected a member of the United Nations (UN) Permanent Forum for Indigenous Affairs in Asia.
Held at local Shilpakala Academy auditorium, chairman of CHT Regional Council and president of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum (BAF) Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma addressed the function as chief guest.
Representative from Bomang Circle Cha Hlah Prue Zimi also addressed as special guest.
Santu Larma said all the previous governments had no political goodwill for full implementation of CHT peace accord. The current government is also acting like its predecessors, he said.
Criticising the role of security people in CHT, Larma said the indigenous people in hills are passing their days under severe insecurity.
Blaming the government, the former guerrilla chief said not a single clause of the peace deal has been implemented in the last 19-months by the present government.
About the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission (CHTLDRC), Larma said the chairman of the commission is doing everything at his own will.
He demanded immediate postponement of such commission's activity in CHT.
Santu also criticized the state minister for CHT affairs for 'not playing due role' for implementation of the peace deal.
Larma said Raja Debashis had played an important role for signing the peace deal and now he can play a stronger role in the UN arena in establishing rights of indigenous people. He greeted Debashis for his outstanding achievement.
Raja Debashis Roy in his speech said he will try his level best to carry out his job.
It may be alright to say that indigenous people still have no constitutional recognition. But nobody can say that they have no state recognition, Debashsis said.
The rights of the ethnic people will not be established until they get constitutional recognition, he added.


courtesy: thedailystar.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Foreigners need permission to visit 'restricted areas' like Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Foreigners need permission to visit 'restricted areas'

will not be allowed to visit 'restricted areas' like the Chittagong Hill Tracts, without the permission

courtesy: http://bangladesh-web.com/view.php?hidRecord=327183


Sunday July 18 2010 11:07:52 AM BDT


The government is drawing up guidelines for foreign diplomats, nationals and the representatives of different international organisations based in Bangladesh to step up their security, officials said yesterday.(The Independent BD )

The home ministry prepared the draft guidelines at a meeting on Thursday with the joint secretary (political) in the chair.

Top officers of different law and intelligence agencies, including the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), representatives of the foreign ministry, the Dhaka Metropolitan Police and concerned officials of the home ministry were present at the meeting.

Foreign diplomats, nationals and the representatives of different international organisations who are working in Dhaka will not be allowed to visit 'restricted areas' like the Chittagong Hill Tracts, without the permission of the authorities concerned, the draft of the guidelines says.

The government is preparing the guidelines for the foreigners at a time when the leaders and activists of the Jamaat-e-Islami and different militant organisations were trying to foil the trial process of the war criminals, the law enforcement agencies reported. Already the law enforcement agencies have arrested a number of leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami on charges of crimes against humanity during the Independence war in 1971.

Md Siddique Ullah Bhuiyan, deputy secretary (political) of the home ministry, who attended the meeting, told The Independent that they were preparing the guidelines to ensure the security of foreign diplomats in coordination with the foreign ministry.

"We have already asked the members of the law enforcement agencies to strengthen security in the diplomatic enclaves of Gulshan and Baridhara areas in the capital to avoid any untoward incident," he said.

According to the proposed guidelines, the members of different foreign missions in Dhaka, foreign nationals and the representatives of international organisations should inform the authorities concerned 15 days before undertaking holiday visit out of Dhaka, excluding the 'restricted areas'.

The security services often complained that most of the foreigners were travelling out of Dhaka on holiday visit at short notices, leaving the law enforcement agencies little time to ensure security measures, the meeting sources said.

For ensuring security in the diplomatic zone, the home ministry will ask the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) to evict the tea stalls and hawkers on the pavements in the area.

According to the sources, the law enforcement agencies also suggested to the authorities concerned to introduce identity cards for all slum dwellers living in the Gulshan area as a precautionary measure in view of possible subversive activities by terrorist groups or militant organisations.

Police sources said that the incidents of mugging and snatching in the diplomatic zone, especially in the lakeside areas in morning and evening were on the rise. The criminals often use the slums to carry on their clandestine activities.

Currently some 938 members of the law enforcement agencies were deployed in the diplomatic zone to ensure security.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Govt not sincere about peace deal: Larma

Govt not sincere about peace deal: Larma

Chairman of Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council (CHTRC) Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma yesterday said not a single clause of the CHT peace deal has seen implementation in last 19 months as the present Awami League-led grand alliance government is not sincere about this matter.

The CHTRC chairman, also president of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS), said this while speaking as chief guest at the opening ceremony of the two-day-long fourth conference of PCJSS district committee at Poursabha hall room in the town.

Popularly known as Shantu Larma, the PCJSS chief said the CHT people are captive due to activities of United People's Democratic Front (UPDF) and role of some security persons in the name of 'Operation Uttaran'.

The armed cadres of UPDF have killed 96 leaders and activists of PCJSS, he said, adding that the ethnic people in CHT are still facing harassment, repression and torture.

Communalism, fundamentalism and anti-progressive activities still prevail in the country, the PCJSS chief said.

He recalled the role of PCJSS founder late Manobendra Narayan Larma in the struggle for achieving the rights of jummo people.

Blaming state minister for CHT affairs ministry Dipankar Talukder for remaining 'silent' about the solution of CHT problems, the PCJSS chief urged the jummo people to be alert about any politics that is not favourable for them.

Presided over by president of district unit of PCJSS Gunendu Bikash Chakma, the meeting was also addressed, among others, by member of CHT Regional Council Sneh Kumar Chakma, its district unit Secretary Bodhi Satta Chakma, Youth Affairs Secretary Suvas Basu Chakma, Chairperson of CHT Mohila Samity Madhabi Lata Chakma, central committee Secretary of Pahari Chhatra Parishad Nitol Chakma and district committee President of Hill Women's Federation Jonaki Chakma.

The speakers called upon the PCJSS leaders and activists to be more united and dedicated to continue strive for full implementation of the CHT peace deal and establishment of the right of self-determination of the jummo people.

Hundreds of leaders, activists and supporters of PCJSS from different upazilas joined the conference.


courtesy: http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=146810

Sunday, July 4, 2010

CHT Commission submits probe report on Baghayhat and Khagrachari violence

The International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC) has submitted a detailed report on the violence that erupted in the region in February 2010, along with a number of recommendations on Tuesday.

The report, sent to the prime minister, mentions the commission's concern over the 'tense situation' in Baghaihat-Gangarammukh area of Rangamati since the violent arson in April 2008 and the repetition of the incident on February, 2010.

It also states that the commission was worried over the violation of human rights and quality of governance in CHT, which is why it sent an investigation team to the region.

The report, undersigned by CHTC co-chairpersons Eric Avebury, Sultana Kamal and Ida Nicolaise, says that the team received 'contradictory accounts' of the arson attacks on Feb 19, which resulted in the burning down of 434 tribal and 29 Bengali settlers homesteads.


The probe team had visited the sites alongside Baghaihat – Gangarammukh road where tribal homesteads, a medical centre and a Buddhist temple were completely gutted.

A large number of tribal residents of the area claimed that the arson was carried out by mobs of Bengali settlers carrying kerosene and petrol. The mob was also armed with sharp weapons and backed by army troops.

Many reported the police guarding their settlement asking them to flee as they would not be able to resist the settlers and army.

However, the military told the probe body that their actions were only in self-defense as they were attacked by a group of tribal miscreants shielded by their women.

They also said that the miscreants were themselves responsible for the arson.

A number of Bengali-settlers, and civil and military officials claimed to the probe team that the tribal set fire to their own homesteads.

However, they could not put forward any convincing motive for this tribal action.

Civil officials also reasoned that the alleged arson attacks during the day time by tribal people could not be stopped as the police could not be mobilized as fast as the arsonists burned down a bridge.

However, on-site visit by the probe revealed that many of the burnt down settlements were only 5-10 minutes drive from the Baghaihat military garrison.


The report also stated that the Feb 20 incident is nothing new and only another addition to a long list of such incidents.

It also stated that the tribal settlements in the Kassalong reserve forest were established a long-time back by tribal people evicted from their original lands in the counter-insurgency period.

However, the construction of a metal road from Baghaihat to the remote Sajek valley by army engineers in recent years fueled the conflict.

The apprehension further heightened with the increased inflow of Bengali settlers during the military-backed caretaker government when the army could act more freely.

Tensions flared due to incidents of land-grabbing, culminating into the Apr 20, 2008 arson attack by Bengali-settlers with military backing that led to 70 tribal residences being burnt to the ground.


The report also states that tribal people have been facing a lot of illegal toll collection and forced unloading of their goods on the way to the Baghaihat bazaar for the interests of Bengali-settlers in recent times.

As a result, they have boycotted the bazaar in protest against the intimidations and demanding withdrawal of settlers.

The probe also expressed concern that the conflict could lead to further inter-ethnic violence in the area and urged the administration to deal with the issues more reasonably.


The CHTC report stated that the tribal youths took out a demonstration condemning the Baghaihat violence in Khagrachhari on Feb 23.

It also claims that the demonstrators caused minor damage to shops and property. However, they were chased and attacked by Bengali settlers. The ensuing clash between the two groups resulted in the torching of Bengali and tribal homesteads and death of one settler.

However, an overwhelming number of tribal homesteads were burnt.

The report also stated that the probe was again faced with contradictory accounts of the actual incident.

Local journalists and media personnel testified that mobs of Bengali settlers torched the tribal homesteads in the presence of the police. However, the law enforcers did nothing to stop the actions.

They also claimed that a number of journalists were attacked by the Bengali settlers and sustained damages to their equipment.

The report also points to the close proximity of an armed police battalion camp and a security post near Shatbhaipara, where 41 residences of mostly tribal people were burnt down. It also pointed to the lack of action by the law enforcers.

It also questioned the failure of the district administration and military command to stop the mob for a number of hours.

The report also went on to state that the violence continued despite the imposition of section 144, proving the failure of the authority.

The probe report also mentioned of their visit to Khagrachhari's Shantiniketan area where settlers alleged arson of their homes by tribal people on Feb 23. A settler named Anwar Hossain was killed and another went missing.

One of Hossain's female relatives alleged that he was killed by tribal people when he tried to douse the fire at one of the settler's home.

However, the tribal people alleged that Hossain was part of the settlers responsible for the arsons and that he was killed in their attempt to save their homes.

The probe also states that they were informed by various sources, both settler and tribal, that the violence targeted to intimidate people and force them to leave their land and homesteads.

It also commented that if this was the case then the tribal people are more prone to land-grabbing because of their weaker state.


The report states that most observers agree that the regional clashes are fuelled by land disputes. It also says that the current government has reactivated the land commission by appointing a retired judge as its chairman in line with the CHT accord.

However, it also points out that the government attempt to date ends with this step as it has yet taken no step to amend flaws of the 2001 Act that governs the commission, despite protests by key tribal leaders.

It also points out that the chairman is showing very little interest to gain cooperation of tribal members of the commission, including the regional council and three circle chiefs.

Instead it has called for submission of complaints by affected parties without holding the cadastral survey, which is mandatory.

As a result, tribal people, along with their major social and political organizations, have boycotted the commission's controversial step.

It also states that the boycott has resulted in submission of claims by mostly Bengali settlers, who typically occupy tribal land, leading to chances of large scale loss of land rights by tribal people, which contradicts the intended objectives of the commission in the first place.


The probe report has made several recommendations to the government.

The CHTC urges immediate actions from the government and concerned parties to start a high-level independent probe into the February 2010 arson and killings as well as taking steps against those responsible. It also asks for scrutiny of allegations of the incidents occurring with law enforcers present.

It also urged the government to ensure security and proper rehabilitation (including compensation) of the affected people.

The recommendations also include ensuring 'free speech' for all, including the victims and witnesses of these violence and urged prevention of intimidation and suppression of the tribal peoples.

At the same time, the probe recommended resolution of the issues that forced to the tribal people to boycott trading in Baghaihat Bazaar so that they come back to the market on their own.

It also asked the closure of the Bengali's settling along the Baghaihat – Sajek road using the indirect support of military and civil authorities .

CHTC probe also recommended immediate amendment of the CHT Land Dispute Settlement Commission Act 2001in line with the provision of the peace accord and recommendations of the regional council. It also urged that the commission takes all further decisions after agreeing with tribal members first.

It also feels that withdrawal of the temporary military camps is required in phases, keeping the terms of the CHT peace accord, to restore normalcy in the region. It reasons that the withdrawal will reduce tensions resulting out of undue military control.


courtesy: http://bdnews24.com/details.php?cid=2&id=166236&hb=5