Why we want our voice to be heard?


Friday, December 31, 2010

“I don’t see any future of Chakmas, Marmas, Garos, Tripuras, Khasis becoming Bengalis” – says Willem van Schendel

“I don’t see any future of Chakmas, Marmas, Garos, Tripuras, Khasis
becoming Bengalis” –  says Willem van Schendel

Professor Willem van Schendel, chair of Modern Asian History,
Amsterdam University, said that he does not see a future when the
national minorities of Bangladesh will become Bengalis.

“I don’t see any future of Chakmas, Marmas, Garos, Tripuras, Khasis
becoming Bengalis. Of course they will be fluent in Bengali, but that
does not change their identities and self-awareness. The idea that the
problem will resolve itself through assimilation is a myth.” he said.

Mr. Willem made this comment in an exclusive interview titled
“Bangladesh is not just a Bengali nation” with New Age Xtra magazine
published today.

In reply to another question he said: “I am very worried about the
future [of the non-Bengali communities] because I think it is a time
bomb ticking away under Bangladesh. The awareness among Bengalis
generally has increased enormously since I first started writing about
it. Now there is a broad understanding of the problems, but they are
not being resolved.”

He also said that there has been a lot of injustice done to the minorities.

Mr. Willem, a researcher and author of a number of books on
Bangladesh, gave the interview to Mubin S Khan during his recent visit
to Bangladesh.

Read the full interview :

‘Bangladesh is not just
a Bengali nation’

Willem van Schendel is a researcher working in the fields of history, anthropology and sociology of Asia. He teaches at the University of Amsterdam (chair in Modern Asian History) and at the International Institute of Social History and has authored a number of books on Bangladesh, including A History of Bangladesh, Global Blue: Indigo and Espionage in Colonial Bengal, The Bengal Borderland: Beyond State and Nation in South Asia, The Chittagong Hill Tracts: Living in a Borderland and Gramin Bangladeshe Krishok Gotishilota. He spoke to Mubin S Khan during a recent visit to Dhaka

Why have you as an academic taken such a deep interest in South Asia, particularly Bangladesh, since a number of your books specifically deal with the country?

   These things are usually coincidences in a person’s life. As a student I had a teacher who was a specialist on Asia, particularly Indonesia, and he was very inspiring. He made me interested in societies based on irrigated rice cultivation and the complexities of such societies.

   As a student we had an opportunity to spend six months in a country to do research and I decided to go to one of those countries. For a number of reasons I decided to go to Bangladesh and spent time doing field work in a village in Rangpur. I became fascinated with the place. I then decided to come back and do my PhD research. After that there was so much more I wanted to know about the country that I continued coming back.

   In an essay in 2001, you have written extensively about the crisis surrounding nationalism in Bangladesh and d ifferent narratives that are fighting with each other. Through what historical circumstances did these narratives emerge, specifically the two main narratives – that of Bangladeshi nationalism and Bengali nationalism – and where would you say they stand now in 2010?

   First of all, I have a particular point of view about nationalism which has to do with the history of the part of the world I myself come from, where nationalism has been a terrible force in the twentieth century. We all have in our families stories about the destructive force of nationalism. I have always been fascinated about the very positive idea about nation in Bangladesh, which I find worrying, because of how bad nationalism can be.

   The discussions and the manipulations of the nation by the different regimes are of particular interest. This whole discussion about whether it is a Bengali nation or a Bangladeshi nation is interesting, because it is a fairly young nation and it is very malleable, very easy to manipulate. Even at the level of party politics you can play with it for short term gain.

   I found this fascinating, yet worrying, because Bangladesh is not just a Bengali nation, it is a multilingual society, there are many non-Bengalis just as there are many non-Muslims. So, to talk about Bengali Muslims or Muslim Bengalis as the only identity is worrying because it spells trouble for the future.

   I don’t think the discussion has changed very much in the intervening period. The rules of the game are still the same.

   In which case, how does a society build its identity without the adverse effects of nationalism?

   It is a problem. Any nation is artificial and it is over time that it becomes natural. Nations start as political projects by a group of intellectuals who then try to sell this project to the wider society, whether to the state or other classes. And Bangladesh is an example of a highly successful political project which started in the late 1940s and early 1950s. But it remained unstable, especially in the early 1970s. This state had suddenly fallen into people’s lap after this terrible war, but what does it actually mean to talk about this nation? The fashion in the 1970s was trying to fill up this space that had suddenly been created. This instability is only to be expected in a new connection between nation and state.

   Do you see this narrative achieve any kind of stability?

   I think, by now, it has stabilised. In the early 1970’s many people were elated to be in Bangladesh, instead of East Pakistan, but were very insecure towards the outside world. That has completely gone now. For the outside world, this is a stable national identity, though inside, there are still fights about what this means. The anxiety is gone.

   In Bangladesh, would you say that this anxiety has somewhat been transferred in relation to India, at least to a section of the population? How do you see Bangladesh-India relations as an outsider?

   This again resonates with my own personal history. I come from a small country, the Netherlands, which has always felt threatened by its big neighbours.

   It all has to do with the fact that in India people are not very often aware of the separate identity of Bangladesh. Sometimes, Indians talk about Bangladesh as if it is another Indian state. They are poorly informed about the sensitivities here. They do not realise that the Pakistan period here turned East Bengal into something very different from what it was in 1947 and that in 1971 there was no desire to return to India. The tension between Bangladesh and India is very understandable, although, I am always impressed by the fact that individually Indians and Bangladeshis have a very easy relationship.

   How far do you think the Pakistan narrative still impacts modern day Bangladesh?

   May be not so much the narrative as the institutional changes that took place after 1947. I think the modern Bangladesh state still looks a lot like the modern Pakistan state that was put in place in 1950’s and 1960’s. You could extrapolate this back to the colonial period, and you could say that this still very much resembles a colonial state. When you talk about things like democratic representation, which was never a part of the colonial state – Pakistan has had trouble with it and so has Bangladesh.

   In the ‘nationalism’ narratives in Bangladesh, the non-Bengali communities remain largely marginalised. Despite much academic attention to their predicament, the majority Bengali race appears largely unconcerned. Do you ever see the emergence of plural narrative in which their identity and concerns are represented properly?

   I am very worried about the future because I think it is a time bomb ticking away under Bangladesh. The awareness among Bengalis generally has increased enormously since I first started writing about it. Now there is a broad understanding of the problems, but they are not being resolved.

   For example the peace accord, the most important parts of which have not been implemented. There is political complexity that wasn’t there before. A lot of time has been lost. There has been a lot of injustice done to them. They feel they are not being treated as full-fledged citizens.

   That is just the Chittagong Hill Tracts. But the other people who do not fit the dominant model of Bengalis and Muslims, have similar problems. If you are a non-Bengali Muslim you have a problem and if you are a non-Muslim Bengali you have a problem as well. All these people need to be given more space and that’s not really happening. These problems do not go away if you ignore them, they become bigger.

   In terms of numbers, the minorities in Bangladesh are still very small. Do you see this becoming a bigger problem or do you see them become assimilated with the mainstream in the future?

   There are various scenarios that you can think of. One thing that is happening is that they are being pushed out to India like the Garos for example. The other scenario is them disappearing in the larger population, and you are right they are small in numbers, which should be a reason to be generous with them because it is cheap in a way. But one reason the CHT is so important in all of this is that it is not a small area.

   I don’t see any future of Chakmas, Marmas, Garos, Tripuras, Khasis becoming Bengalis. Of course they will be fluent in Bengali, but that does not change their identities and self-awareness. The idea that the problem will resolve itself through assimilation is a myth.

   You take strong interest in borderlands. A recent report by Human Rights Watch documents the killing of 930 people at the hands of BSF since 2000. How far do you think, the haphazard, ahistorical and un-geographic nature of India-Bangladesh borders contributes to such violence?

   The border is a problem for Bangladesh because there are so many areas where you don’t know where the border is. There are many parts where India and Bangladesh don’t agree where the border is. This uncertainty about territory is something modern states cannot live with. Earlier, this was not much of a problem. Now you really have to know – this inch is mine, that inch is yours. If you don’t know that, and both Bangladesh-India as well as Bangladesh-Burma doesn’t have that, then you have this suspension – anything can happen at the border, it’s hot and dangerous, and that of course impacts the rest of the society. 


courtesy: http://www.newagebd.com/2010/dec/31/dec31/xtra_inner5.html 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

NHRC organises workshop on strategic planning for promotion & protection of rights of indigenous peoples

NHRC organises workshop on strategic planning for promotion & protection of rights of indigenous peoples
On 29 December 2010 the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) organized a workshop on “Strategic Planning for promotion and protection of Rights of Indigenous and Ethnic Minority Groups” at YWCA auditorium in Dhaka. Representatives from indigenous people’s organization, civil society leaders, human rights and indigenous peoples rights activists, human rights defenders and journalists were attended the workshop. As a part of Stakeholder Consultation Meeting on Draft Strategic Plan, NHRC has organized this planning workshop.
At the very beginning, on behalf of NHRC Professor Dr. Niru Kumar Chakma, honorary member of the NHRC welcomed and briefed the audience about the strategic planning workshop. After that, another honorary member of the NHRC Ms. Nirupa Dewan has given a presentation on ‘Stakeholder Consultation Meetings on Draft Strategic Plan’.
Finally, all participants were divided into four groups and each group did their group work on the two topics- (a) Situation in CHT and local access to justice and (b) Discrimination against indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities. At the end four groups forwarded the following recommendations-
  • encourage government to fully implement CHT Accord;
  • encourage government to amend the CHT Land Disputes Settlement Act 2001 in an urgent basis;
  • undertake mass awareness programme by NHRC to promote CHT Accord;
  • encourage government to take into consideration the recommendations pledged by different international organizations and UN agencies for implementing CHT Accord;
  • NHRC should take lead role protesting gross human rights violation in grass root level;
  • establish NHRC wing at regional level or district level;
  • establish a separate CHT cell in NHRC considering the gross violation of human rights;
  • NHRC should monitor implementation process of the CHT Accord;
  • encourage government to arrange special training for govt. officials to be trained up with indigenous rights, their traditional land rights and basic human rights;
  • introduce media advocacy program for constitutional recognition of IPs;
  • encourage government to ratify the ILO Convention 169 and support the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples etc.
Among others, Mr. Pallab Chakma of Kapaeeng Foundation, Mr. Goutam Dewan and U K Zain of CHT Citizens Committee, Ms. Sultana Kamal of ASK, Mr. Philip Gain of SEHD, Mr. Krishna Kanti Singh, Ms. Chaitali Tripura of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Mr. Sontosh Tripira of UNDP et al attended the workshop.

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Kapaeeng Foundation
(An Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)
Shalma Garden, House # 23/25, Road # 4, Block # B, PC Culture Housing, Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207, Telephone: +880-2-8190801
E-mail: kapaeeng.foundation@gmail.com, kapaeeng.watch@gmail.com

Innocent Jumma villagers attacked by Bengali settlers in Longadu

Innocent Jumma villagers attacked by Bengali settlers in Longadu
2 Jummas injured, 12 beaten, 5 houses ransacked
On 21 December 2010, innocent Jumma villagers of Shantinagar of Gulshakhali union under Longadu upazila (sub-district) of Rangamati hill district were attacked by a group of Bengali settlers from nearby Bengali settler areas. In this communal attack, 2 Jummas were injured, 12 were beaten and 5 houses were ransacked.
It is learnt that on that day early in the morning a group of Bengali settlers went to a nearby area belongs to Jumma villager to collect wood and bamboo. The Jumma villagers opposed them to collect wood and bamboo from their land and at a stage Jumma villagers beat one Bengali settler named Md. Imtaz (25) of village- Choumuhani area of Gulshakhali union. However, he could return to his home almost safely. But, soon after coming back home, he rapidly spread the news of the incident and tried to make the Bengali settlers agitated.
Around 12:00 to 1:00 pm a group of Bengali settlers numbering 33-35 equipped with sharp weapons made the communal attack on Jumma area of village- Shantinagar. In the attack, following 12 Jumma villagers were detained and beaten severely by the attackers:
(1)   Mr. Dhak Badhi Chakma (25) s/o Dal mohan Chakma of village- Shantinagar;
(2)   Mr. Binay Chandra Chakma Maratto (40) s/o Dal Mohan Chakma of village- do;
(3)   Mr. Milan Chakma (30) s/o unknown of village- do;
(4)   Mr. Ripan Chakm (25) s/o unknown of village- do;
(5)   Mr. Samarpan Dewan (20) s/o Banu Dipak Dewan of village- do;
(6)   Mr. Karun Chakma (37) s/o unknown of village- do;
(7)   Mr. Bawm Chakma (43) s/o unknown of village- do;
(8)    Mr. Himel Chakma (18) s/o Bivishon Chakma of village- do;
(9)   Mr. Subha Shanti Chakma (23) s/o Bawm Chakma of village- do;
(10)     Mr. Palash Chakma (18) s/o Mahendra Chakma of village- do;
(11)     Mr. Riten Chakma s/o Rasik Mohan Chakma of village- do;
(12)     Mr. Suman Chakma s/o Reboti Mohan Chakma of village- do.
Of the above victims, Mr. Dhak Badhi Chakma (25) and Mr. Binay Chandra Chakma Maratto (40) were injured severely and admitted to Longadu hospital. Besides, in the attack, the Bengali settlers ransacked following 5 houses:
(1)   Mr. Barun Kumar Chakma s/o Sonaram Chakma;
(2)   Mr. Raj Mohan Chakma s/o unknown;
(3)   Mr. Kala Chiji Chakma s/o unknown;
(4)   Mr. Bimal Shanti Chakma s/o unknown;
(5)   Mr. Binay Chandra Chakma s/o Dal Mohan Chakma.
It is learnt that the following two persons led the whole attack:
(1)   Mr. Abu Hanif (45), village- Juba Laxmi Para, member of No. 9 ward of Gulshakhali union council;
(2)   Mr. Rufijuddin (40) s/o Khalekh, Member of No. 8 Rahamatpur ward of Gulshakhali union council.
It is learnt that BDR personnel of Raj Nagar camp did not oppose Bengali settlers while settlers were going to attack on Jumma villagers. At a stage, a group of BDR led by Lt. Colonel Habib with Major Aminul of BDR went there and saved the Jumma villagers from being beaten.
Later, an emergency meeting was arranged with the leaders concerned led by Lt. Colonel Habib and UNO. Mr. Sukhamoy Chakma, ex-UP Chairman, Mr. Premlal Chakma, President of Headman Association of Longadu, Mr. Moni Sankar Chakma, President of Juba Samiti of Longadu also attended the meeting on behalf of the Jumma community. In the meeting, the following decisions were made:
(1)   A co-ordination meeting will be held on next 23 December 2010 in this regard;
(2)   In the meantime, no Bengali person will be allowed to go to Jumma areas and no Jumma person will be allowed to go to Bengali areas without permission of the Zone Headquarter Commander Lt. Colonel Habib.
It is learnt that (1) Md. Abdur Rahim, general secretary of Longadu upazila Awami League, (2) Md. Halim, acting Headman of Gulshakhali mouza (Awami League leader) and (3) Abu Taleb, acting chairman of Gulshakhali union and also BNP leader was the main instigator and conspirator behind this entire communal provocation.
Further tension and gathering to attack
Though, it was a decision to hold a co-ordination meeting on 23 December 2010, the meeting was postponed and again determined to hold on 27 December 2010. In the meantime, on 24 December 2010 in the evening, the Bengali settlers again tried to create tension and make attack on nearby Jumma villagers of Shanti Nagar village. The Bengali settlers even gathered and proceeded towards the Jumma village. Jumma villagers also tried to gather in order to oppose the opponent. In this circumstance, Jumma leaders then informed UNO of the fact and requested to take urgent measure. Then, a group of BDR rushed to the spot and stopped the settlers and made them come back.
New BDR camp set up on Jumma land
Following the communal tension, on 23 December 2010 BDR set up a camp at middle place in between the Bengali settler village and Jumma village and a group of BDR numbering 30-32 of Raj Nagar BDR zone headquarter took their position there. BDR also cleared the bushes around the newly built camp that almost covers 5-6 acres of land. It is mentionable that the camp was set up on land belongs to two Jumma villagers with due records. BDR constructed the camp occupying a BRAC school and 2 houses of Jummas. The owners of the land are as follows:
(1)    Santosh Chakma (35) s/o Bhulsing Chakma, village- Gyana Ratan Karbari Para, Shanti Nagar; case number of his land is 953.
(2)    Sharat Chandra Chakma (38) s/o Madan Kumar Chakma, village- do; case number of his land is 1485. 
(3)    Mr. Nabin Kumar Chakma s/o Bhulsing Chakma, village- Gyana Ratan Karbari Para, Shanti Nagar
(4)    Mr. Shanti Moni Chakma s/o Remesh Chandra, village- Gyana Ratan Karbari Para, Shanti Nagar, case no. of his land is 821
Jumma’s land grabbed by Bengali settlers
Following the attack, Bengali settlers led by Raju Khalifa (Rajnagar), Ramdan (VDR Nayek) and Alal (Rajnagar) have been trying to grab at least 30 acres of lands belong to 10 Jumma villagers. It is mentionable that Jumma villagers have been cultivating these lands for decades. Jumma villagers put objection to the BDR camp authority and local administration, but no action has been taken so far. If the land grabbing is continued, then 10 villages of 800 families numbering 8,000 Jummas will be uprooted from this area.
The owners of the lands whose lands have being tried to occupy by Bengali settlers-
1.      Anil Chakma (25) s/o Maya Ranjan Chakma of Chato Malya
2.      Sharat Kumar Chakma (35) s/o Thakur Chakma of Chato Malya
3.      Sonadhan Chakma (35) s/o Ekanya Chakma of Chato Malya
4.      Birbahu Chakma (45) s/o Indrajoy Chakma of Chato Malya
5.      Sushil Kumar Chakma (50) s/o Sidalya Chakma of Chato Malya
6.      Anil Chakma (45) s/o Batya Chakma of Chato Malya
7.      Shambumoni Chakma (50) s/o late Sida Chakma of Chato Malya
8.      Dayal Chakma (40) s/o Surendra Chakma of Chato Malya
9.      Sura Lal Chakma (45) s/o Nalini Mohan Chakma of Chato Malya
10.  Debendra Chakma (35) s/o Ramani Mohan Chakma of Chato Malya.

-- ---------------------------------------
(Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti)
Kalyanpur, Rangamati-4500, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh
Tel+Fax: +880-351-61248
E-mail: pcjss.org@gmail.com, pcjss@hotmail.com
Website: pcjss-cht.org

Hill people resent govt land acquisition move

New Age, 29 December 2010
Hill people resent govt land acquisition move
Abdullah Juberee
Hill people of six mauzas in Khagrachari fear that they might become landless as the forest department has initiated a move to acquire land, including their homesteads.
They expressed their concerns when the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission was working on land dispute settlement amid growing commotion among the hill people over continued grabbing of land and forests in the three hill districts � Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban.
The forest department is set to take control over thousands of acres of land declaring reserved forest at Dighinala in Khagrachari. The people said they would be left with no scope to file appeals if the land were acquired by the government.
Bengali settlers in place in the hill districts in the past week took possession of land, especially in market areas and by road stretches.
Incidents of attacks and clashes between the hill people and the Bengali settlers also increased in all the hill districts in recent months over land grabbing, ownership of land and land possession.
Hill people also alleged that some Bengali settlers, directly patronised by the administration, were also grabbing land at Chonrachari, Lemuchari, Paujyachari, Keang Ghat, Jaisen Para and Nunchhari in a few years. In the latest of such attempts, a group of Bengali settlers tried to grab the land of Sunil Kanti Chakma at Lemuchari on December 5, creating tension in the area.
The district administration also barred demonstrations in the area against land grab attempts on the plea of possible deterioration of law and order.
The forest department has asked the Khagrachari deputy commissioner to hand over to the department 12,849 acres of land at Rengkajya, Chota Merung, Bara Merung, Tarabanya, Hajachhara and Chota Hajachhara mauzas at Dighinala to expand the area of reserve forests.
Of the forest land to be handed over, 1,400 acres are at 55 Hazachara mauza, 4,600 acres at 28 Renkajya, 1,750 acres at 29 Chhota Merung, 3,999 acres at 30 Bara Merung, 500 acres at 54 Tarabanya, and 600 acres at 55 Hazachhara mauzas.
Hill people say their homes and livelihoods will be jeopardised if the district administrations of Rangamati, Khagrachhari, and Bandarban hand over the land to forest department.
 In a letter on October 12, divisional forest officer (jhum control) in Rangamati, ABM Abdul Barik, requested the deputy commissioner, Anis-ul Haque Bhuiyan, to hand over the forest land.
In 1992, the then BNP government declared a total of 6.85 lakh acres of land in three hill districts reserved forest areas.
The leaders of hill people said the move would make landless at least 40,000 hill people who were rehabilitated there after their land had been submerged by Kaptai Lake hydroelectric dam in the 1960s. Headmen of six maujas and 23 karbaris submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner on November 23 to stop the land acquisition move to contain a possible humanitarian catastrophe.
The headmen said the forest department had taken the move without consultations with them although moves for land acquisition in the hills require such consultations.
They also fear that the move was taken to infiltrate Bengali settlers in the name of reserve forest expansion.
Headman Purnakumar Chakma said during the 2007-2008 emergency rule, land was leased out to 218 families of Bengali settlers at Dighinala and the people given the land were only in paper. �The settlements remain in papers only but we fear they would emerge all of a sudden and claim land ownership,� said headman Prantar Chakma.
In similar way, 812 families of the Bengali settlers were given land in the neighbouring Baghaichari that led to attack on small ethnic groups in February 19-20, 2010.
Societypriya Chakma, a resident of Rengkajya, said he suddenly came to know that his father�s homestead and 15 acres of teak orchard had falled in the area the forest department has planned to acquire. �We have no other piece of land. Where will we go if government takes away the land?
The Rangamati circle forest conservator, Shafiul Alam Chowdhury, said there was no fresh move to expand reserve forest area. A move was taken in 1992 and that has been continuing till date and the forest department was yet to receive the land.
“We are writing to deputy commissioners time and again and they keep it pending. The divisional forest officers in my circle also wrote such letters asking the deputy commissioners to hand over the land,” he said.
Abdul Barik ruled out the need for consultation with headmen for land acquisition. “They are not part of civil administration. So we did not talk with them.” But Shafiul said the headmen were part of the administration as they collect revenue.
Anis-ul-Haque said the district administration was examining the land sought by the forest department at Dighinala. The land will be handed over to the forest department after scrutiny, he said.
As for land grab attempts at Lemuchari, Anis said as there were contradictory claims, he suggested that both the parties should move court.
The Daily Star, Editorial, 29 December 2010

Settling land disputes in CHT

Early addressing of unresolved issues key to sustainable peace

The reported suspension of the hearings by the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Land Dispute Resolution Committee (LDRC) to settle the local indigenous population's long unresolved land ownership issue is disconcerting. The seemingly differing views of the LDRC's chairman that the disputes could be resolved through the existing Land Commission's laws, while the agitating tribal people's demand that those have to be amended including their additional demand seeking resignation of the LDRC chairman has further complicated the situation.
The question that naturally arises is were not those in charge aware of this stance of the tribal people vis-à-vis that of their own before preparing for the inaugural occasion to hold the hearing? No doubt the suspension of the hearings by the government is reflective of the lack of its contact with the ground realities obtaining in the region. And unless those in the CHT Peace Accord Implementation Committee (PAIC) and the representatives of the tribal people are earnest in reaching an understanding to remove the newly emerged roadblocks before starting the hearings, peace in the CHT will remain elusive. And it is not only the peace in the region; the desired development of the area is also getting inordinately delayed due to the non-resolution of the land disputes.
But why is it that the peace accord is coming up against no end of hurdles in resolving all the disputes towards establishing lasting peace in the region? For there is no question that the peace accord signed about a decade and a quarter back had successfully put an end to the two decades long insurgency in the CHT and brought back the dislodged indigenous people to their ancestral home. So, after so many years of inking of the accord, the wind of peace, reconstruction and development should have by now started to blow in full strength. In fact, it is only after the resolution of the land-related disputes that the government and the international development partners could start to invest in the reconstruction and economic growth of the region. So, it is not only the government, the indigenous people of CHT have also a huge stake in seeing an early settlement of the disputes. But the recent developments have only put a damper on the prospect.
Whoever is to bear the responsibility for the ongoing stalemate, the indefinite delay in the process of settlement will serve no one's purpose. The land commission's laws, which the Parbattya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) leader Shantu Larma and other tribal leaders claimed to have contained some disputed provisions have meanwhile been largely resolved through discussions with the government. So, after resolving the remaining issues like holding of regional polls and demarcation of lands, other lesser irritants should be addressed amicably without further delay through consultation between the government and representatives of the indigenous people. Otherwise, if these problems are allowed to fester, that would be a grave blow to the prospect of peace in the entire region.
Another news at Bangladeshnews24x7.com:


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Govt urged to stop expansion of reserve forest in Dighinala

Govt urged to stop expansion of reserve forest in Dighinala

THE United Peoples’ Democratic Front (UPDF) has urged the government
to cancel a plan to expand reserve forests in Dighinala under
Khagrachari district, saying it would displace thousands of Jumma
people in the area.

In a statement issued to the media today, Ujjwal Smriti Chakma, chief
organiser of UPDF Khagrachari district unit, said thousands of Jumma
people will be displaced and rendered homeless, if the proposed 12,849
acres of land in six Mouzas are added to the existing reserve forests
and put under the control of the Forest Department.

He labeled the plan a conspiracy to uproot the Jumma people from the
area, and added that, “It will cause a humanitarian tragedy and have
serious consequences on the economy and environment.”

Mr Chakma held the Forest Department responsible for depletion of
forests in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and said, “Experiences show
that the more reserve forests have been created, the more the Jumma
people have lost their traditional control over their land and forest
and the more forests have been destroyed.”

The UPDF leader called upon all irrespective of party affiliation and
ethnic identity to get united to fight against the government plot to
displace the Jumma people by expansion of reserve forests in

Discord over CHT land intensifies Hearing stalled amid protests; indigenous communities demand for law amendment

The Daily Star, 28 December 2010
Discord over CHT land intensifies
Hearing stalled amid protests; indigenous communities demand for law amendment
Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Committee's hearings, that were supposed to be inaugurated yesterday, are now in a limbo amid protests from indigenous communities and the government's stalling over making its position clear.
The indigenous communities are demanding that CHT Land Commission law be amended, as the current law gives the commission chairman absolute power to decide ownership of disputed lands. They are also demanding resignation of current Chairman Khademul Islam Chowdhury.
Meanwhile, the government is not making its position clear.
Khademul Islam however told The Daily Star last night that the government suspended the commission's activities for an indefinite period, although he did not receive any such letter.
"The move will stall implementation of the peace accord," he added.
A correspondent from Khagrachhari reported that the indigenous communities were demonstrating there yesterday morning as the Land Commission was about to start the inaugural session of the hearings.
Chief of CHT Peace Accord Implementation Committee Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury was present there for the inaugural session at 9:30am.
"The hearing was scheduled to start at 9:30 in the morning, but she stopped the activities of the commission at 9," Khademul said.
Mostafa Kamal, personal secretary to Sajeda Chowdhury, however said last night that the deputy leader of parliament neither suspended the activities of the land commission, nor did she give any hope to the indigenous communities regarding meeting their demands.
Member Secretary of the Land Commission Abdul Hamid said they so far received 3,933 applications for resolving land disputes in different upazilas of the three hill districts.
After scrutiny, 1,000 petitions were taken into cognisance, and were prepared for resolving legally, he added.
Disputes over land have been the central point of often violent conflicts between Bangalee settlers and the indigenous communities in the hill districts since the peace accord was signed in 1997.
Prior to that, the indigenous communities fought a bloody war of over two decades, protesting relocation of a large number of Bangalees there, and demanding self-determination.
The peace accord opened an opportunity for thousands of indigenous people to come back home from refugee camps in Tripura of India.
But still around 9,780 indigenous families, out of 12,222 who returned from Tripura are yet to get back their land.
Parbatya Chattagram Janasanghaty Samity (PCJSS) published an evaluation paper this year about the status of implementation of the CHT peace accord, where it mentioned that forty villages in the three hill districts are still occupied by Bangalee settlers, which used to be indigenous villages.
The report also said the present government cancelled lease allocations of 593 plots out of 2,000 on 50 thousand acres of land that had been given to Bangalee settlers.
New Bangalee settlements are still propping up on the hills, and forceful grabbing of indigenous land by the settlers is rampant, indigenous leaders said.
Now the indigenous communities fear that they will not get justice from the present land commission.
They say they lost confidence in the commission and its chairman, as he has been ignoring the demands of regional political and socio-cultural organisations, and of the traditional kings of the communities.
The commission chairman however said, "It is a matter of law that gives the chairman the power. It is possible to resolve the land disputes under the existing law."
Soon after taking office, the present Awami League government appointed retired High Court judge Khademul Islam Chowdhury as the chairman of CHT Land Commission.
According to the peace accord, the government must identify the original owners of land in CHT first, said CHT Regional Council Chairman Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, popularly known as Santu Larma.
"The chairman of the land commission is ignoring our demands. So the land disputes will not be resolved this way," said Santu Larma, at a media conference held in Dhaka last month.
The Land Commission Law was passed in the parliament in 2001 without any consultation with the CHT Regional Council, said indigenous community leaders.
The law incorporated 22 disputed provisions, they added.
Later a series of discussions between the government and PCJSS resolved most of those disputes, they said.
Now they want the government to amend the law before starting the land commission hearings for resolving the disputes.


3rd meeting of CHT Accord Implementation Committee held in Khagrachari

3rd meeting of CHT Accord Implementation Committee held in Khagrachari

On 26 December 2010 the 3rd meeting of the CHT Accord Implementation Committee was held at Khagrachari circuit house in Khagrachari district. Presided over by Convenor of the Committee Ms. Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, members of the Committee Mr. Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, President of PCJSS and Mr. Jatindra Lal Tripura, Chairman of Task Force on Rehabilitation of Returnee Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons attended the meeting. ADC (general) of Khagrachari district was also present in this meeting for secretarial service.
Progress of the implementation of CHT Accord was mainly discussed in the meeting. The issues of execution of CHT Regional Council (CHTRC) Act and Hill District Council (HDC) Acts, transfer of subjects to the HDCs, approval of the Rules of CHTRC and HDCs, withdrawal of temporary camps and de facto military rule Operation Uttoron, resolution of land disputes by amending the contradictory provisions of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Act 2001 as per recommendations of CHTRC, rehabilitation of internally displaced persons and returnee refugees and strengthening Task Force, consideration of services of reinstated service holders during the period of insurgency as qualified service-period, seniority, regularisation of pay-scale, allowances and retirement benefits etc, development of the CHT were discussed and reviewed.
It is learnt that decision was taken to identify and list down the unimplemented issues of the Accord. It was also decided that Mr. Larma and Mr. Tripura with the secretarial support of ADC (general) of Khagrachari district would prepare the list of unimplemented issues and then it would be placed before Prime Minister soon for necessary directions and actions.
The meeting also decided to postpone hearing on land related appeals until the amendment of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Act 2001 as per CHT Accord. It was decided to place the Act for amendment in the parliament's next session.
The meeting was begun around 4.15 pm and continued till 7.30 pm.
It is mentionable that different organisations and groups of indigenous peoples staged demonstrations in Rangamati and Khagrachhari on 26 December 2010 demanding halting of the hearing of the land dispute appeals by the chairman of the Land Commission and removal of the chairman of the Commission immediately. They urged the government to amend the CHT Land Commission law before starting legal procedures for resolving land disputes in the CHT.
It is also worth mentioning that UPDF’s armed terrorists made attack on convoy of Mr. Larma at Khamar Para of Betchari area under Naniarchar upazila in Rangamati district while he was returning Rangamati from Khagrachari district on 27 December 2010 in the morning. The terrorists first fired and then threw brickbats on the convoy. Mr. Larma escaped the attack unhurt. However, a glass of a vehicle was broken.



(Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti)
Kalyanpur, Rangamati-4500, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh
Tel+Fax: +880-351-61248
E-mail: pcjss.org@gmail.com, pcjss@hotmail.com
Website: pcjss-cht.org

Army beats up two in Ramgarh

Army beats up two in Ramgarh

TWO villagers were tortured in Ramgarh as the army tried to foil a
programme, marking the 12th founding anniversary of the United Peoples
Democratic Front (UPDF) on 26.12.2010.

The UPDF Ramgarh unit organized a rally at Buddha Dhan
Karbari Para Government Primary School ground at Parshuram Ghat under
Patachara Union of Ramgarh Upazila in Khagrachari district on the
occasion of its 12th founding anniversary.

At 8am, when the programme was underway a group of army personnel went
there and encircled the venue.

The soldiers searched houses in the nearby village and beat up two
persons. They are Sona Moni Chakma, 17, son of Daya Moni Chakma of
Indra Moni Para village and Babu Marma son of Gomba Marma of village
Nabadwip Karbari Para.

They came there to participate in the rally.

The army also took away the national flag, a number of UPDF flags and
a microphone from there.

Another group of army men brought down the UPDF flags and festoons
hoisted at different places in Matiranga including the Alutila hill.

source: chtnews.com

Remove justice Khadem as land comission chief: PCJSS

The Daily Star, 26 December 2010
Remove justice Khadem as land comission chief: PCJSS
Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) yesterday demanded removal of Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission (CHTLDRC) Chairman Justice Khademul Islam Chowdhury as he, what it said, is working in favour of a vested quarter.
In a press release yesterday, Mongal Kumar Chakma, information and publicity secretary of PCJSS, said the present activities of the land commission are illegal and contrary to the peace accord.
It also alleged that the LC chief has received applications from settlers who grabbed lands of the indigenous people. He himself is sorting the applications and fixing the date for hearing on those.
After his appointment on July 2009, Justice Khademul held only one meeting with the members of the commission. But he held a number of meetings with the local administration ignoring the commission's four members, PCJSS said
Though a meeting in Rangamati on October 10 decided to bring about some changes to the Land Commission Act-2001 before resolving land disputes, the LC chief has already issued a letter on December 13, requesting its members to attend the two-days hearings on applications of the affected people on December 27 and 29.
Terming his activities illegal, PCJSS demanded immediate removal of Justice Khademul Islam and postponement of ongoing activities of the commission.
As Justice Khademul is working in favour of a vested quarter, he has no right to continue as chairman of the commission, it said.
The Jana Sanghati urged the government to amend the Land Commission Act in accordance with the proposals of CHT Regional Council, appointment of a new land commission chairmen, cancellation of all decisions taken by Justice Khademul Islam, setting up a land commission office and appointment of necessary officials and staffs to the commission.
New Age, 26 December 2010
CHT land commission begins, hearing Monday amid protests
The Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission starts on Monday hearing appeals submitted with the commission amid widespread protests by hill people and organisations, demanding removal of the commission chair.
The deputy leader of the parliament, Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, is scheduled to inaugurate the hearing session on Sunday and the formal sessions will be held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Before the hearing by the commission formed in 2009 begins, a number of hill civic bodies and political parties have expressed their no confidence in the commission chair, retired Supreme Court judge Khademul Islam Chowdhury, and called for his removal accusing him of making all the decisions unilaterally, ignoring others on the commission.
The Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti, which signed the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord with the government in 1997 ending insurgency that had continued for decades, rejected on Sunday the move for the hearing without amending 23 sections of the 2001 act relating to the commission which go against the 1997 treaty.
The party, which said such a hearing would be ‘totally unacceptable’ to the hill people, demanded removal of the incumbent chair of the commission.
The PCJSS and other regional political parties accused the commission chair of unilaterally accepting appeals for hearing from the settler Bengalis, who triggered disputes by grabbing the land of the hill people.
The United People’s Democratic Front said the land disputes in the hill districts could not be resolved under the present commission act as it invests the chairman with absolute authority to decide everything without taking majority opinions into account.
The party said the law had not clearly defined the phrases such as ‘existing laws,’ ‘tradition,’ ‘rules’ and ‘circular’ which would trigger controversy in dispute resolution.
It also called for incorporating the headmen and headmen’s deputies, known as karbaris, in the commission, barring the Bengali settlers who had encroached on the land of the hill people from filing appeals with the commission, cancelling the illegal settlements and leases issued to the Bengalis since the rule of Ziaur Rahman and carrying out a cadastral survey only after resolving all disputes.
The breakaway PCJSS faction, known as Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (MN Larma), saw the move for hearing under the present law as nothing but ‘stubbornness.’
The government should amend the law to the expectations of the hill people and resolve the disputes to restore peace, the party said.
The commission chair told New Age that the hill people’s leaders had demanded amendment to the law and only the government could do it. ‘It is time consuming and till then the disputes will be resolved under the present law, which is adequate enough to resolve such disputes.’
Khademul expected that the commission members would attend the hearing and resolve the disputes. ‘We have completed all preparations and I do not think there will be any problem.’
As for demand for his removal, Khademul said it was not fair. ‘It is up to the government… They [the hill people’s leaders] have no right or authority to make such a demand without attending the commission meetings. Mr Larma attended only a single meeting out of the nine meetings.’
‘I ask them to attend the meetings and speak everything at the meeting and not to talk about it outside the commission. It will show us ways to reach solution,’ he said.
‘People are making such comments the moment we are about to settle the disputes only to make it controversial. A certain quarter is also fanning such remarks,’ he said.
Different organisations in Khagrachari will also go out on demonstrations against the hearing on Monday.
The Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (MN Larma), Parbatya Jumma Sharanarthi Kalyan Samiti, Khagrachari District Headmen’s Association, Khagrachari District Karbaris’ Association, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Parbatya Chattagram Bhumi O Bana Sangrakshan Committee and the Chittagong Hill Tracts Citizens Committee will form human chains in Khagrachari.
Leaders of seven civic bodies of the hilly region in a statement on Saturday called on the land commission members to boycott Khademul Islam.
The organisations said the people who would extend cooperation to the controversial chairman of the land commission would be treated as ‘enemies of the people’ and they would be boycotted socially.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts Citizens’ Committee president Gautam Dewan, Khagrachari District Headmen’s Association president Shaktipada Tripura, Parbatya Jumma Sharanarthi Kalyan Samiti general secretary Santoshita Chakma, CHT Headmen’s Network president Ranglai Mro, Kapaeeng Foundation vice-president Dipayan Khisha and Khagrachari District Karbaris’ Association general secretary Ronik Tripura signed the statement.





-- -------

Kapaeeng Foundation
(An Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)
Shalma Garden, House # 23/25, Road # 4, Block # B, PC Culture Housing, Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207, Telephone: +880-2-8190801
E-mail: kapaeeng.foundation@gmail.com, kapaeeng.watch@gmail.com

Memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister through Deputy Commissioner of Rangamati hill district demanding immediate stopping of unilateral land dispute hearing by the chairman of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission.

This memorandum was submitted to the Prime Minister through Deputy Commissioner of Rangamati hill district demanding immediate stopping of unilateral land dispute hearing by the chairman of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission.

The memorandum was submitted after organising the human chain in front of office of the Deputy Commissioner of Rangamati hill district on 26 December 2010 by CHT Citizens Committee, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum (CHT chapter), M N Larma Memorial Foundation, CHT Forest and Land Rights Movement and Jum Aesthetics Council.

Memo on Stoppiing Hearing of Land Disputes                                                                   

UPDF marks 12th founding anniversary as army tries to foil it

UPDF marks 12th founding anniversary as army tries to foil it

THE United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF) marked its 12th founding
anniversary across the Chittagong Hill Tracts on 26.12.2010 as the government
and military tried to foil its programmes.

The UPDF has vowed to strengthen its struggle for full autonomy.

The anniversary programmes included hoisting party flag, discussion
meeting, view-exchange meeting with elders, boat rally and children

Order to abstain from programmes
The Rangamati district administration imposed restrictions on holding
of any public meetings in the district.

In a letter addressed to Sona Moni Chakma, a local UPDF leader of
Rangamati, the district administration said it had “learnt through a
report submitted to it by law enforcement agencies that there was a
possibility of a bloody conflict among the rival parties” if the
proposed programmes of the UPDF were allowed to be held.

It ordered the UPDF to abstain from all the programmes undertaken by
the party. The letter was signed by Md. Moniruzzaman, Assistant
Commissioner, on behalf of Rangamati district magistrate. (Memo No. Dated 25 December 2010).

Although the letter was signed on 25 December, it was delivered to the
UPDF office at Kudukchari in the morning today.

Army disrupts programme
Huge contingents of soldiers were deployed at various points in
Manikchari, Kudukchari, Naniachar, Jurachari in Rangamati district to
disrupt the UPDF programmes.

In Manikchari and Kudukchari, the army stopped participants at
different spots and searched their bodies. They refused to allow the
UPDF activists and their supporters to assemble at Manikchari and
Kudukchari bazaar.

In Jurachari, the army prevented people from attending a discussion
meeting in Subholing and arrested Maha Ranjan Chakma, president of
Democratic Youth Forum Jurachari unit.

In Burighat of Naniachar, the soldiers stopped a boat procession at
Komtoli and prevented it from proceeding towards Naniachar. They also
refused to allow the party flags to be hoisted.

In Rajstali, the army personnel brought down the UPDF flags hoisted
atop its party office and snatched away a banner, while they
threatened people not to hold any programme to mark the 12th founding
anniversary of the party in Baghaihat.

Such disruptive activities of the army have also been reported from
many other places including Matiranga in Khagrachari.

To mark the day the UPDF Khagrachari district unit took up various
programmes which included hoisting party flag, playing revolutionary
music, placing wreaths at a makeshift monument and a children rally.

About 300 children took part in a jeep rally, which paraded through
Khabangpujjya, Shapla Chatwar, Chengi Squar and Mahajonpara before
ending at Perachari High School.

The jubilant children waved UPDF flags and chanted slogans.

UPDF organized a boat procession in Naniachar. Over 2,000 people in
about 300 boats participated in it.

A floating boat rally was held at Maachbil, south of Naniachar bazaar,
at the end of the procession.

A new office building of the UPDF was launched at Subholong today as a
part of programmes marking the 12th founding anniversary of the party.
UPDF held a discussion meeting at its new office building on the

Chaired by Nihar Bindu Chakma, the discussion was also attended by
ex-college principal Md. Hossain Khan, joint convenor, Chittagong
chapter of the Anti-imperialist and Anti-fascist Democratic Committee.

It was also addressed, among others, by UPDF leader Animesh Chakma,
Jatio Mukti Council leader Amir Abbas, novelist Ahmed Jasim, HWF
leader Konika Dewan, Subolong UP chairman Bihari Ranjan Chakma,
Jurachari Sadar UP chairman Shyamol Kanti Chakma and Dumdumya UP
chairman Razia Chakma.

Hossain Khan said Santu Larma had failed to achieve the demands of the
Jumma people. “Now it is time for all the Jumma people to rally behind
the UPDF.” he added.

UPDF Rangamati unit was scheduled to inaugurate a new office at
Manikchari and hold a discussion meeting there.

However, the programme had to be cancelled as the local administration
imposed restrictions on holding any such programmes.

Large number of army soldiers had been deployed at various points in
Manikchari and Kuduchari since early in the morning.

UPDF tried to hold a rally at Kudukchari bazaar but the army prevented them.

After a long and heated exchange of words with the army, UPDF was able
to hold a brief rally at Half-bazaar near Kudukchari bazaar after

The rally was addressed by Jatio Mukti Council leader Bhulon Bhowmik,
Biki Majumder and Riko Chakma.

A discussion meeting, marking the 12th founding anniversary of the
UPDF, was held at Gangaram Doar. Chaired by Gyanendu Chakma, convenor
of Sajek Land Protection Committee, it was addressed, among others, by
UPDF leader Natun Kumar Chakma, Kanchan Chakma, Akash Chakma, Nimesh
Chakma, Ompika Chakma and Binoy Chakma.

The Bandarban unit of the UPDF held a discussion meeting and a
procession at Balaghata to mark the day.

Chaired by Choton Tanchangya, organiser of UPDF Bandarban unit, the
meeting was addressed by Jatio Mukti Council leader Biddut Bhowmic,
Bangladesh Chattra Federation leader Mohammad Zunaied, DYF leader Eshi
Mong Marma, PCP leader Pruching Thoai Marma, Antor Marma and Rupon

The meeting was followed by a colourful procession which paraded
Balaghata bazaar.

Discussion meetings were also held in Longudu, Rajstali, Belaichari,
Kaokhali, Ghagra, Betbunia, Ullo Primary School, Matiranga,
Laxmichari, Panchari, Dighinala, Marishya, Mahalchari, Dhaka and

Poster and festoon
On the night of 25 December, the UPDF put up posters, hoisted its
flags and hung festoons at different places in the Chittagong Hill

The festoons contained various slogans of the party.

UPDF condemns government action
The UPDF president Prasit Khisha in a statement condemned the
government for its disruptive activities.

Terming the government action as “undemocratic and fascist” he said
the just struggle of the Jumma people led by UPDF could never be
subdued by taking away the right to freedom of speech and right to
peaceful assembly as guaranteed in the constitution.

Mr Prasit said, “The government, like a snake charmer, is playing a
game with the Land Commission and CHT Accord Implementation

Denouncing the CHT Land Commission Act and its so-called hearing, he
said the people would be compelled to build up a greater movement if
the government failed to provide recognition to the customary land
rights and revoke the illegal land settlements given to the settlers.

UPDF leaflet on the eve of its 12th founding anniversary
The UPDF published a four-page leaflet on the occasion of its 12th
founding anniversary. It said: “The present constitution of Bangladesh
is flawed. It does not recognize the national minorities of
Bangladesh, has accepted ultra Bengali nationalism as a principle and
recognized Islam as state religion. Therefore, this constitution is
not acceptable to the CHT people.”

The UPDF raised a 12-point demand in the leaflet. These include:
recognition of the national minorities in the constitution and
declaring the CHT as an autonomous area, putting an end to military
operation and withdrawal of the army, restitution of customary land
rights, putting a stop to land grabbing and restoration of grabbed
lands  to their rightful owners, keeping the CHT administration free
from military influence, rehabilitation of the settlers outside the
CHT, putting an end to sexual assault on Jumma women, withdrawal of
illegal restrictions imposed on public meetings and rallies, putting
an end to repression of UPDF members, release of UPDF members and
supporters, putting an end to the torture and arrest of innocent
people, to raids into villages, to military searches and to
intimidation, putting a stop to harassment of monks and withdrawal of
undeclared restrictions imposed on the practice of religion etc.

source: chtnews.com

Army orders stoppage of temple construction

Army orders stoppage of temple construction

An army major has ordered Sadhana Tila Buddhist temple to stop all
development activities.

Sources say a group of 12 army personnel led by Major Anik from
Babuchara army camp raided the temple at 2:30pm today (25.12.2010) and ordered the
stoppage of all construction works there.

The army men also took away about 500 pieces of bricks piled up at the temple.

The stolen bricks, meant for the construction of the temple, have been
put under the charge of Commanding Officer of Dighinala Zone, Lt. Col.

The army also ordered the temple management committee to appear at
Dighinala zone tommorrow (26.12.2010).

The army have been trying to occupy the temple land for a long time.
During the state of emergency between 2007 and 2008, it made several
unsuccessful attempts to capture it by force.

Later, the army fought a legal battle through a settler proxy, which it lost.

source: chtnews.com

PCJSS press release on unilaterally starting of hearing of land dispute cases by CHT Land Commission chairman from 27-29 December 2010

PCJSS press release on unilaterally starting of hearing of land dispute cases by CHT Land Commission chairman from 27-29 December 2010 

PCJSS Press Release on CHT Land Commission (25 Dec 2010)                                                            

leaflet published by UPDF on the occasion of its 12th foundng anniversary

leaflet published by UPDF on the
occasion of its 12th foundng anniversary

Land grab attempt in Bogachari

Land grab attempt in Bogachari

THERE has been an attempt to grab land belonging to a Jumma villager
in Bogachari under Naniachar Upazila of Rangamati district.

A Bengali settler named Mozaffar, 65, son of Gofur Sheikh made the
attempt at 9am today.

The land was registered in 1976 – 77 in the name of Nonaram Chakma,
45, son of Tanu Ranjan Chakma of village Bogachari Suridas Para.

But Mozaffar claims he owns the land and tried to occupy it along with
turmeric plants Mr Chakma has grown on it.

However, the attempt was resisted by Jumma villagers.

At one stage, Naniachari Union Council chairman Panchanon Chakma
visited the spot and appealed to both sides to settle the issue

He took them to the Upazila Nirbahi Officer at Naniachar in the hope
that he would settle the issue after hearing both sides.

While Nonaram Chakma showed him documents pertaining to settlement of
the land in his favour, Mozaffar failed to produce any such document
in support of his claim.

Yet, the UNO refused to settle the issue, and said he would do so
after further spot verification.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

An indigenous child abducted in Comilla

An indigenous child abducted in Comilla

On 15 December 2010 an indigenous student of grade IV Mr. Bijoy Chandra Tripura (10) s/o Anil Chandra Tripura of village Kurtbari Tripura Para under Sadar South Comilla upazila in Comilla district was allegedly abducted by a Bengali trafficker named Siddikur Rahaman (38) s/o late Ujir Ali of village South Bagmara under Sadar South Comilla upazila in Comilla district.
It is learnt that after returning home from school around 2.00 pm on that day, the victim went missing. Parents and relatives of victims looked for victims at nearby areas, failed to find out. While locals were suspecting Siddikur Rahaman, then he finally released the victim around 7.30 pm.
Father of victim Mr Anil Chandra Tripura filed a case against Siddikur Rahaman with Sadar South Comilla police station, but police are yet to arrest him. Mr. Anil Chandra Tripura also informed local human rights organizations namely ‘Aid Comilla’. Investigators of this organisation met Siddikur Rahaman and asked him whether he abducted Bijoy Chandra Tripura. At first Siddikur Rahaman did not agree but when referring to police, then he confessed his involvement with abduction of Bijoy Chandra Tripura.
It is mentionable here that he was previously involved with the abduction and selling of a child for trafficking.
-- -----

Kapaeeng Foundation
(An Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)
Shalma Garden, House # 23/25, Road # 4, Block # B, PC Culture Housing, Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207, Telephone: +880-2-8190801
E-mail: kapaeeng.foundation@gmail.com, kapaeeng.watch@gmail.com

Monday, December 20, 2010

Khagrachari admin denies permission to hold human chain

Khagrachari admin denies permission to hold human chain

THE Khagrachari district administration has refused to give permission
to a Jumma organisation to hold a human chain in protest against
torture of innocent villagers by police.

The Greater Khabangpujjya Social Welfare Committee yesterday sent a
letter to the Deputy Commissioner, informing him that it would hold a
human chain in front of Khagrachari press club to protest the beating
of innocent villagers of Khabangpujjya including women and children.

The Committee also sought co-operation from the district administration.

But the district administration refused to allow the programme to go ahead.

The Additional District Magistrate put down his remarks on the blank
space of the said letter: “Permission denied. The SP (Superintendent
of Police) is requested to take necessary measures.” (Scanned copy of
the letter and ADM’s remarks attached)

On 15 December, the police attacked members of the Hill Students
Council when they tried to take out a procession at Swanirbhor area
and arrested at least 40 Jummas including women and children.

The police also entered Khabangpujjya village, searched houses and
beat up villagers indiscriminately. Even women and children were not


Five villagers arrested in Sajek, released later

Five villagers arrested in Sajek, released later

Five innocent Jumma villagers have been arrested but released later in
Sajek under Rangamati district.

They were arrested when a group of army personnel from Baghaihat zone
raided the village of Nangolmara in the wee hours today.

The arrested are Pochondo Kumar Chakma (26) son of Chikonya Chakma,
Buddha Kumar Chakma (35) son of Kanu Chakma, Bishukko Chakma (25) son
of Kanu Chakma, Protimoy Chakma (45) and Chikonya Chakma (20) son of
Gojallya Chakma.

They were taken to Baghaihat zone and were subjected to mental torture.

However, they were released at 12:30pm after a group of village
elders, led by Chitta Ranjan Chakma, the village head or Karbari of
Guchchagram village, made a plea to the zone authority.

Before their release, the arrested Jummas were forced to sign a pledge
stating that they would not get involved in “any terrorist

The Second-in-Command of the zone talked to the village elders at the
zone headquarters.

He told them that his men had gone to the village and arrested those
five after they received information that a group of terrorists were
staying there.


courtesy: chtnews.com

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dawn-to-dusk road blockade ends in Khagrachari

Dawn-to-dusk road blockade ends in Khagrachari

The dawn-to-dusk road blockade called by the Hill Students Council
(PCP), a front organisation of the United Peoples Democratic Front,
ended in Khagrachari today without major untoward incidents.

The programme was called in protest against police attacks on a
peaceful conference of the PCP and indiscriminate arrest of its
members on Wednesday.

Normal life in the town ground to a halt as motorized vehicles
remained off the roads. No long-route buses plied in the district.

Large contingents of police personnel were deployed in many parts of
the town, and sheershanews.com said the pickets beat up a pedestrian
in Manikchari and pelted a micro bus with stones at Panch-mile area on
Dighinala – Khagrachari road.

The PCP leaders thanked all concerned for supporting their programme
and urged the government to release all its arrested members.

Meanwhile, one of the remaining arrested PCP members has been
released. His name is Komendra Lal Tripura, a candidate for Secondary
School Certificate
exam to be held in next February.

Nine others are still in jail. All of them are students. They were
refused bail when they were produced before the court of senior
judicial district magistrate yesterday.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Police attack PCP activists in Khagrachari District-wide road blockade announced

Police attack PCP activists in Khagrachari
District-wide road blockade announced

DOZENS of Hill Student’s Council (PCP) activists have been injured in
Khagrachari when police attacked them with gun shots, rubber bullets,
tear gas and clubs.

Police also raided Khabangpujya and arrested 40 persons including
women and children. However, 25 of them were released later from
Khagrachari police station.

The PCP called road blockade for 17 December in protest against the
brutal police attack on their peaceful conference at Swanirbhor.

PCP Khagrachari district unit leaders said the police blocked them in
front of the office of the District Council when they were trying to
take out a procession at the end of their conference at 2:15pm today.

The PCP leaders then requested the police to withdraw the blockade and
respect their right to take part in peaceful processions.

“Instead police tried to disperse us by resorting to baton charges,
using tear gas and firing rubber bullets.” Apruchi Marma, newly
elected president of PCP Khagrachari district unit, told chtnews.com.

“When they failed to disperse us, they fired live bullets at us and
army was deployed” he added.

In the face of joint attacks by army and police, the PCP activists
were then forced to retreat to the nearby Jumma areas -- Khabangpujya
and Narnaghia.

But the army and police pursued them and arrested whomever they got hold of.

The PCP, the Hill Women’s Federation, the Democratic Youth Forum and
UPDF Khagrachari district unit condemned the attack on peaceful PCP
gathering by army and police and urged the government to release those

They also demanded punishment of those involved in the attack.

The 11th conference of the PCP Khagrachari unit was held today at
11:30am today at Swanirbhor.

Chaired by Shipu Chakma, vice president of PCP Khagrachari district
unit, the conference was also addressed by UPDF leader Kalo Priyo
Chakma, DYF leader Mithun Chakma, HWF leader Madri Chakma, PCP leaders
Pronoy Chakma, Palash Chakma and Bipul Chakma.

Over one thousand PCP members and supporters participated in the conference.

A 19-member new committee for PCP Khagrachari district unit was also
elected. Apruchi Marma, Chandra Dev Chakma and Palash Chakma elected
were made president, general secretary and organising secretary

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A University in CHT: To Be or Not To Be? - By Khairul Chowdhury

A University in CHT: To Be or Not To Be?

Khairul Chowdhury
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
Shah Jalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet

Will not establishing a Technology University and a Medical College in CHT be another Kaptai dam? Who will study and teach there?  Are there any of need of them at all, on what ground, whose interest?
Think the stakes and mistakes before they cannot be undone.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) is 5125 Sq. m. of land which are mostly hill ranges.  Of which more than 1, 241 Sq. m. (24%) was made reserved forest during the British. Of the remaining of 3884 Sq. m. being called Unclassified State Forest (USF) was and is in fact individual lease hold plough lands and/or common jhum lands upon which the British made civil and revenue administration incorporating the traditional chiefs into the administration. 
During the Pakistan, the Kornophuli hydro-electric power plant (Kaptai Dam) made 250 Sq. m. lake, which submerged 40% of the best cultivable river valley plough lands and dispossessed 100,000 hill peoples, of them 40, 000 took refuge to India. During 1976 to 1990s, many hill peoples had to be taken refuge to India again because of the war between Bangladesh armed forces and Jana Shongti Samity (JSS), the hill peoples’ political party with an armed guerrilla. Some of them returned after 1997 as part of CHT (“Peace”) Treaty. Meanwhile, 400,000 or more Bengali rural poor transplanted into CHT along with 5 Cantonments and 500 Securities Check Posts and Camps. Moreover, from 1962 to 1997, Forest Department also took up, 258,654.00 acres of land, and most of them are now declared Reserved Forest, not to mention thousand acres of rubber plots by anonymous Bengali businessmen and women.  And the old reserved forests are being exploited for timber and industries but have not been replant as planned.
About CHT, the notion of emptiness and sparely populated is “myth” at best, or lie in a common word. 72% of the land areas outside of the old Reserved Forest, that is USF / cultivable lands, are high steep hills (above 40 percent of slopes). Only 3.5% is cultivable plough lands.
In the past, Jhum was the only source of food and income for most of the hill peoples, and is still for a few, mostly the communities of hill peoples other than the Chakma, the Marma and the Tripura. Some members of the remote and rural Chakma, Marma and Tripura do still jhum.  
Jhum is also a technique of forest plantation; without jhuming no forest plantation can be done in CHT. It is the forest Department who has regularly organized jhum cultivation (read: taungya) for forest plantation since the British.        
Since the Kaptai dam, the hill peoples have made to face dispossession, militarization, and violence every day.  There are hardly enough indigenous middle class families or indigenous students in CHT. The University of Chittagong is an hour distance. Still, if there is a “need” for a university for indigenous hill peoples or Bengali communities in CHT, it should be in Chondroghona or on the Chittagong –Rangamati border.
As a university teacher, once I tried to persuade the president of JSS, Mr. Larma to accept government proposal for a technology university. Years ago, I had lived in CHT for a year to learn and know the hill peoples’ lives and living as they are made to be “things” (“tribe”) and becoming of subjects of Bengali domination and Danda.  Now, I do not support a university in CHT but strongly oppose it. A medical college may be?        
A university and/or a Medical college in CHT will surely be a historical event as were the Kaptai power plant and the Kornophuli paper mills in the 1950s, and the CHT Treaty in 1997. However, the University or Medical College will make no differences to the hill peoples’ wealth or well being. If the planned or proposed university and/or medical college in any location of CHT get implemented, they will be disaster for the hill peoples and more detrimental than those of Cantonments in CHT and that of Kaptai dam. They will change current 50/50 ratio of ethnic demography between Bengali and the hill peoples, and every relations of power in CHT including ecology. They will establish chauvinist Bengali hegemony and marginalized the hill peoples’ resistance movement and hope for democratic and secular Bangladesh. The hill peoples’ resistance is a deterrent against tyranny, autocracy and militarism in Bangladesh, and thus, a potential hope and site of struggle for democratic and secular Bangladesh.  
This is December, the month of victory and glory for Bengalis, please do not bring or buy shame from “other nations”, “small in numbers” may the “nations” be!       

Khairul Chowdhury
Ph.D Candidate
Deparment of Social Anthropology
2054 Vari Hall, York University
4700 Keele Street, Toronto, ON, Canada M3J 1P3
FAX: +416-736-5768
alternate email: kc2002@yorku.ca