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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

PCJSS press release on declared programme (grand public meeting)

Press Release
The grand public meeting of PCJSS will be held in May 2012 instead of March

Demanding speedy and proper implementation of CHT Accord, Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti, in a press conference held on 30 November 2011, declared to carry out mass-communication, and to organize public meeting and demonstration continuously in three hill district since January 2012; to give momentum to organizational activities of PCJSS since January 2012; and to declare hard-line programmes through a grand public meeting by the end of March 2012, if the government does not come up with implementation of the CHT Accord.
Considering on-going overall situation of the country including Chittagong Hill Tracts, the grand public meeting will be organised in May 2012 instead of March 2012. It is also mentionable that the mass-communication, public meeting and demonstration including organisational activities of PCJSS in three hill district will be continued as declared earlier and hard-line programmes will be declared by holding grand public meeting in May 2012.

Sajib Chakma
Assistant Information and Publicity Secretary

Sunday, March 25, 2012

An 11-year old Marma girl raped by Bengali settlers in Manikchari

An 11-year old Marma girl raped by Bengali settlers in Manikchari

On 23 March 2012, a 11-year old Jumma girl from Bholakhola village of Tintahari union under Manikchari upazila was reportedly raped by two Bengali settler youths at Gorjon Akashi Bagan area under Manikchari upazila in Khagrachari district.

It is learnt that, on that day, the victim, who is a class/grade- five student of a BRAC-run school, went to Chowmuhoni Bazaar in Kanchanpur under Fatikchari upazila, Chittagong adjacent to Manikchari; to sell coal. When the victim reached Gorjon Akashi Bagan on her way back home alone, Md. Saddam son of Serajul Islam from Kanchanpur and his friend Md. Anis grabbed her, took her to a roadside jungle and then raped her.

The children who were accompanied the victim informed guardians of the victim and then father of victim Thoi Aungyo Marma along with villagers rushed there and recovered victim from Gorjon Akashi Bagan area in senseless condition. The victim was first taken to Manikchari hospital. 

As the perpetrators were from Fatikchari upazila under Chittagong district, so the victim was again taken to Fatikchari police station on 24 March. A case was filed with Fatikchari police station under Women and Child Repression Prevention Act in connection with the incident. The victim was supposed to be sent to Chittagong for medical test. It is reported that police arrested a rapist named Md. Saddam.

It is worth mentioning that recently violence against indigenous Jumma women by Bengali settlers in CHT has increased. From January 2007 to February 2012, at least 51 incidents of violence against indigenous women in CHT were reported. In these incidents, 66 indigenous women were victimized. Of them, 6 Jumma women were reportedly killed after rape in addition to 31 women were raped. Besides, 24 Jumma women were attempted to rape and 5 women were abducted.

At present, the biggest concern in rape and other violence against indigenous Jumma women in CHT, is the lack of access to justice and absolute impunity that perpetrators enjoy. In rape cases, the victim ends up going through further harassment from the side of the administration and law enforcers -- there have been instances where doctors at hospitals have refused to give indigenous women physical check ups or delayed the physical check ups so that the evidence disappears; there have been complaints about police delaying/refusing to take the case and many have been too afraid to file a case in fear. These and many other administration-led intimidation and harassment ultimately results in the perpetrator getting away with his crime.
Kapaeeng Foundation
(A Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)

Following are the rape cases of indigenous Jumma women,  reported  in last few months:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bangladesh: Smoke in the hills. A story by Per Liljas

Following is the article on "CHT" from "minority voices"

Bangladesh: Smoke in the hills. A story by Per Liljas, winner of MRG's Young Journalist Award

Forty years after Bangladesh' liberation war, indigenous communities are still stuck in the same struggle

Twelve-year old Dipu Chakma was woken up by the crashing sound when the front door of his family’s hut was kicked in. Five men entered, their faces covered in cloth. Hurriedly, Dipu got up from his bed and ushered his little brother Riku to the back of the hut. Sneaking out through a window, Dipu heard the men shouting and caught a glimpse of them lunging for his and Riku's father, whilst their mother tried to intervene.

A demonstration conducted by Jumma people in Bandarban, CHT in 2011, Photo: Per Liljas 

"My heart was beating fast, I thought they were going to kill him," Dipu says. Hiding in the bushes outside, the two boys heard the struggle come to an end, and the men leaving down the hill. Shortly after, their mother came to find them, blood running down her forehead, tears running down her cheeks. The men had taken her husband with them. She led the boys uphill. While spending the night in the plantations, their hut and hundreds of other huts were torched and burned to the ground.

Dipu and Riku Chakma lost their father in an attack by Bengali settlers on 19th February, 2010.  Photo: Per Liljas. More details and pictures of the attack could be viewed here:http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.178588332185700.40523.142034769174390&type=3

In south-east Bangladesh, where the flat delta gives way to forested hills, columns of smoke billowing up toward the sky has traditionally meant planting season. The eleven tribes residing here have sustained themselves for over a thousand years by slashing down vegetation along the slopes, setting it on fire, then putting down seeds among the nutritious ashes. They call this cultivation jhum and they call themselves jumma. Their region, the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), marks the border between South Asia and South East Asia. Unlike the Muslim Bengalis on the plains, the jumma are mainly Buddhists and of Tibeto-Burman descent. Yet, they have been governed from the plains for a century and a half. Under British rule, a relative amity prevailed. Under Pakistan, discontentment grew. Under Bangladesh, the columns of smoke more often than not have come from conflict. The first sign of violent change came in the early 1960’s, when the Kaptai hydroelectric power plant was built.

A windy night in 1961, when Rita Dewan was thirteen years old, she could hear water lap the lawn outside her window. A week later, as water reached her family’s porch, it was time to leave. ”When I came back the day after, water stood up to my knees,” Rita says. A few miles downstream, the gates were closing on Kaptai Dam. The lake it created came to submerge forty percent of CHT’s arable land and the town of Rangamati, capital of CHT's predominant Chakma tribe. 100,000 people were displaced. For Rita, it would not be the last time she lost her home.

Kaptai lake. Photo: Per Liljas

63-year old Rita sits on her sofa, on the plot of land in the new Rangamati town that her father acquired after the dam was constructed. She is short, hazel-eyed and has pulled her hair into a silvery knot. When she starts talking about her marriage, and how she left for her husband’s rural land in the hamlet Erabuniya in 1965, there’s a hint of nostalgia in her eyes. ”It was so beautiful and peaceful,” she says. ”We started a pineapple farm and expanded the land to grow rice.” Then, in 1986, several huge barges landed across the river, carrying hundreds of Bengalis. ”We were stunned,” Rita says. ”First we just thought they were coming to pick some fruit and bamboo. Then we understood that they were here to stay.”

Photo: Per Liljas

The new arrivals grossly outnumbered the jumma and were backed up by scores of soldiers. When arguments erupted and grew violent, many of the jumma left for their plantations uphill. Rita and her husband moved back to her family in the new Rangamati town. Not long after, the jumma guerilla, Shanti Bahini (”Peace Fighters”), engaged the army in battles in Erabuniya. In a week’s time, all guerilla fighters and jumma had fled the village. ”A couple of years later, I came back because of my job,” says Rita, who was then working as a field officer for a family planning project. ”The settlers had built a house, a school and a mosque on our land. A man invited me to taste a litchi. ’It’s so sweet,’ he said. When I told him that they were all mine, that my husband had sown that tree, the man just laughed.”

Until the construction of the Kaptai Dam, CHT had been a largely secluded area. The British, during their rule, had treated the region as semi-autonomous and introduced laws restricting foreign settlement. However, when the British left in 1947 and CHT became a part of Pakistan, thousands of Bengalis were moved in from the plains to construct and man the Kaptai Dam and other industrial projects. When the Bengalis rose up against Pakistan in 1971, they came to form a country based on ethnicity instead of Islam – Bangladesh, literally ”the country of Bengalis.” Not being Bengali, the jumma felt overlooked and sought India’s help. In 1975, when Bangladesh’ first Prime Minister was assassinated and replaced by the Islamist general-major Ziaur Rahman, they received it.

Photo: Per Liljas

India started providing the newly formed jumma insurgents, Shanti Bahini, with training and arms and soon a guerilla war broke out. Major-General Rahman responded with a mass immigration of Bengali settlers from the plains. By the early 80’s, Bengalis made up half of CHT’s population, after being less than ten percent three decades earlier. Settlers burned down jumma villages, Shanti Bahini burned down the Bengali settlements. There were massacres and atrocities committed by both sides. When a secular government replaced Bangladesh’ military regimes in 1996, India stopped supporting Shanti Bahini, and a year later the insurgents had laid down their arms. The peace accord that was signed included demilitarization, increased powers to the jumma and rehabilitation of around 100,000 people who had fled to India. However, there was no mention of the Bengali settlers.

”We never put it on paper," says Shantu Larma, the former commander of Shanti Bahini. "It was a gentlemen’s agreement that the 500,000 settlers would return.” Only Larma’s short-cropped, grey hair and his straight posture hints at his background as the leader of an insurgency. He wears a light blue shirt that is a size too large and steel-rimmed glasses, as he sits in the office he holds as chairman of the Regional Council, CHT’s ruling political body.

Shantu Larma, previously the head of the guerrilla group Shanti Bahini and now a political leader in CHT. He feels that he has been deceived by the peace agreement which he signed along with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Photo: Per Liljas

It might look as if he’s important, however his political powers are weak. This lack of influence given to the Regional Council is one of the examples of the flawed implementation of the peace accord. As mandatory in all public offices, a large portrait of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina hangs behind Larma, constantly reminding him how she seems to have gotten the best of him when signing the accord. ”Hasina’s party is corrupt, they don’t care about the jumma’s hopes and aspirations,” he says. ”If they don’t implement the peace accord, there will be violence.” However, the violence never actually stopped. The peace accord split Shanti Bahini in two – Larma’s pro-accord JSS and the anti-accord UPDF. They both deny all reports of leading armed, underground cadres, which fight each other and the military. Where they both agree is that all infighting is benefiting the military.

If it wasn’t for the military presence, CHT would seem nothing like a conflict zone. The lush, undulating landscape – sliced by rivers and interspersed with bamboo-hut hamlets – carries the calmness of a lost paradise. The few, small towns, ripe with rickshaws and small businesses, could be any Bangladeshi town, except for the large minority of people with a South East Asian appearance. And except that anywhere you go, you see the army. Dark-green vehicles drive down the roads, clusters of soldiers stand on street corners, roadblocks and expansive camps are scattered around the countryside.

According to the peace accord, all but five army camps in CHT are to be withdrawn, but still several hundred remain. The Bengali settlers are mostly clustered near to the camps and when violence takes place, often after a settler has encroached on jumma land, the military offers the settlers protection.
However, many observers believe that the violence is often instigated by the military themselves. In May 2011, Lars-Anders Baer presented a report on the CHT to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. "In Bangladesh, the military is a state within the state, but in CHT they are in reality the state," Baer says. "It is deeply involved in the exploitation of natural resources, drug trafficking and other commercial interests in CHT. Despite the indigenous population's right to land, systematic landgrabbing is ongoing. Generally speaking, the conflict is escalating once again. There is no rule of law for the indigenous people."

Photo: Per Liljas

Being the biggest contributor to UN's peace keeping forces, the Bangladeshi military also has a great interest in retaining CHT as a training ground. Furthermore, the current construction of a deep sea port in the nearby city Chittagong will make CHT into an invaluable transit area. Meghna Guhatakurta, PhD in international relations at Dhaka University and Director of the research institute RIB, emphasizes that many of the human rights violations are taking place in the areas where these new roads are being planned. ”Settlers are moved to where the roads will be built, because that is where they will have business opportunities in the future,” she says.

One of the roads has started to take shape in Bagaihat, the village where Dipu and Riku Chakma’s hut went up in flames in February 2010. On this day, the two boys stand next to a greenish-grey pond outside of Rangamati. Behind them, other boys are playing in the water, trying to climb the trunk of a floating tree. In fact, there are kids all around. By this time in the afternoon, most of them have peeled off their green-and-white school uniforms and are busy with leisure, homework or chores. Adults are scarce. The ones you see wear shaved heads and orange robes.

This is Monogar, a Buddhist school and orphanage in Rangamati, that takes care of jumma children who are victims of the ongoing conflict. Dipu and Riku came here almost a year after settlers attacked their village. ”That night, our mother cried into the morning,” Dipu says. He is tense; the collar of his shirt is trembling and his gaze is darting. ”The next day, my mother went to the village. Police were there. They had found Dad’s body by the roadside.”

Photo: Per Liljas

Juanashri Mahathero is one of the senior monks at Monogar. ”Everyone here carries a personal story of violence,” he says. ”Four months ago we admitted a young girl who had been taken to Chittagong and raped and wanted to commit suicide when she returned. This morning a girl in sixth grade found out that her father had been kidnapped, and just cried and cried. We need a psychologist to take care of cases like these, but we don’t have the money.”

Photo: Per Liljas

With whatever donations they can get, mainly from international donors, Monogar teaches around four hundred children, from ages five to fifteen. This is one of the few places in Bangladesh where children are being taught in a tongue other than Bengali. Jhimit Chakma, principal of Monogar, says, ”Our goal is to educate as many jumma children as we can in our own culture. That’s the only way we can survive.”

Raja Devasish Roy, king of the Chakma, grew up in a privileged situation, speaking Chakma, Bengali and English. He was reluctantly throned after Bangladesh’ liberation war in 1971, since his father took Pakistan’s side and was expelled. Since then, Roy has played the role of a mediator between the government and the insurgents, he has been a human rights advocate, and is currently a member of the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Lelung Khumi, the first member of the Khumi tribe to have received an education, speaks at a demonstration in Bandarban, CHT. Photo: Per Liljas

This year, the fortieth anniversary of Bangladesh’ liberation, the irony of CHT’s situation is not lost on him. ”The Bengali experience of being forced to speak Urdu during Pakistan’s rule was what drove their struggle for emancipation,” he says. ”They were denied their own language and identity. But now, their government is using their powers in the same way. We jumma don’t eat, sleep and speak our indigenous identity – we’re also human beings and Bangladeshis. But we can’t become full human beings before our righteous place in a multicultural nation is recognized.”¨


All photos: Per Liljas

Per Liljas was awarded the Minority Voices Young Journalist Award in 2010. A freelance Swedish journalist, he has contributed to several prominent Swedish newspapers such as Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet and Aftonbladet. This piece is the result of his award, an MRG-funded trip to research and write on issues facing an indigenous or minority community in the global south, and is a translation from the original Swedish article, first published in the February 2012 edition of Amnesty Press.

News from plain land indigenous: JAP demands security of lives and properties of indigenous peoples in north Bengal

News from plain land indigenous: JAP demands security of lives and properties of indigenous peoples in north Bengal amid recent communal attack on them



Jatiya Adivasi Parishad (JAP) demanded security of lives and properties of indigenous peoples living in north Bengal of Bangladesh and urged government to take urgent action against those land grabbers and miscreants who are involved with recent communal and arson attack, kidnapping and robbery on localities of indigenous peoples.

JAP, an indigenous peoples’ organistion working in north Bengali, raised this demand in a press conference organised on 17 March 2012 at Public Library hall in Rajshahi district. President of Rajshahi district committee of JAP Bimal Chandra Rajoar read out a press statement while central president of JAP Rabindranath Soren and presidium member of JAP Anil Marandi, among others, were present in the conference.

JAP, in its press statement, said that there are 38 ethnic indigenous communities including Santal, Oraon, Munda, Rajoar, Teli, Turi, Bhuiyan with around 200,000 population living in Rajshahi district for centuries. Though one day indigenous peoples of this region had huge land property, but at present they became vain and landless due to continuous dispossession of their land. A vested group of land grabbers of mainstream population with the help of corrupted government employees have been occupying indigenous peoples’ land by making fake land document or by conducting heinous attack on them. In most cases, the local administration including police took side with the land grabbers who belong to mainstream population and who are influential in all respects.

JAP alleged that very recently land grabbers and miscreants intensified their attack, kidnapping and arson on indigenous peoples with the intention to occupy land of indigenous villagers. For instances-
(a) On 13 February 2012 and 26 February 2012 land grabber Kamal Rabbi and his gang made attack on the house of Rameshwar Baske at Saguna Jiban Para of Pakri union under Godagari upazila in Rajshahi district. In this attack, the wall of the house was destroyed. Again, on 28 February 2012 Kamal Rabbi and his gang set fire on Jamin Hasda’s house of same village. On 1 March 2012 Rameshwar Baske lodged a case (no. 1/53) against Kamal Rabbi with Godagari model police station. Simultaneously, indigenous villagers organised human chain and submitted memorandum to Upazila Executive Officer of Godagari upazila (sub-district) demanding to arrest Kamal Rabbi and his gang and to bring them under justice. But the police did not take any action against the culprits. The perpetrators is moving around openly and threatening the indigenous villagers to death.
(b) On 7 January 2012 an indigenous girl named Rina Soren from Fulbari villager of Rishikul union under Godagari upazila was abducted and raped by Md. Alauddin. A case (no. 15) was filed against Md. Alauddin of Alokchhatra village of same union on 13 January 2012 with Godagari model police station. But the police did not take any action against Md. Alauddin. Besides, local influential of mainstream population put pressure on indigenous villagers to come up with a compromise on this incident.
(c) On 16 March 2012 a land grabber named Md. Rabiul with the help of police led by SI Mahbubur Rahman from Premtali police outpost under Godagari police station tried to occupy 13 bighas of homestead of Jadu Roy Bhuiyan of Shiyala village of Matikata union under Godagari upazila. On that day, Md. Rabiul was present there with a tractor to cultivate the land. SI Mahbubur Rahman ordered Jadu Roy Bhuiyan to leave the land arguing that the land was given settlement to Md. Rabiul. Learning this, villagers including indigenous women became agitated and run after SI Mahbubur Rahman and Md. Rabiual. Though indigenous villagers prevented land grabbers from occupying land, but Jadu Roy Bhuiyan is passing days with insecurity as the land grabbers are threatening him to death. Jadu Roy Bhuiyan lodged a case with local court against the land grabbers, but the court is yet to pass any order in this regard.
(d) On 16 January 2012 a group of miscreants belong to mainstream population beat an indigenous woman at Kaktiya village of Mohanpur union under Godagari upazila while the victim went to bring water from a pond. The neighbours of mainstream population are forbidding indigenous villagers from using the pond. The police did not accept any case while indigenous villagers tried to file case with Godagari model police station.
(e) On 16 March 2012 Md. Kajim s/o late Abdul Majid of Sundarpur Daldala village of Kakanhat municipality under Godagari upazila tried to rape an indigenous woman named Basana Bala w/o Bhuttu Sardar of same village. It is learnt that on that day around 7.30 pm the victim went out to bring water from nearby tube-well and at that time seeing her alone Md. Kajim grabbed her from back side and tried to rape. However, the local villagers rushed there while the victim was shouting. On 17 March 2012 Basana Bala filed a case (no. 16) in connection with this incident against Md. Kajim with Godagari police station. Police arrested the culprit and sent to jail him.
Protesting against these recent atrocities committed by land grabbers and miscreants of mainstream population on indigenous peoples, JAP observed road blockade programme from Godagari-Amnura road under Godagari upazila in Rajshahi district on 20 March 2012 for 2 hours from 10 am to 12 noon. However, local administration is yet to take any action against the miscreants and to provide security of lives and properties of indigenous villagers.

The picketers and leaders of JAP put following demands-
1.      To arrest and provide examplary punishment to land grabbers, miscreants and rapists immediately;
2.      To provide settlement of land traditionally occupied and owned by indigenous peoples to them and to cancel lease of khas land and pond to the land grabbers, and to stop corruption of land office;
3.      To give back land of indigenous peoples occupied by land grabbers by making fake document or forcefully;
4.      To form a land commission as per election manifesto of grand alliance government to return back the dispossessed land of indigenous peoples;
5.      To ensure security of indigenous peoples including protection of their human rights; and
6.      To stop all kinds of oppression, suppression and harassment on indigenous peoples.

Indigenous leaders declared to surround/besiege the office of Upazila Executive Officer of Godagari upazila (sub-district) to be executed on 28 March 2012 if the administration did not arrest the perpetrators of aforesaid incidents by 27 March 2012.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Jumma women in CHT suffering from insecurity, says Santu Larma

Jumma women in CHT suffering from insecurity due to non-implementation of CHT Accord, says Santu Larma

“We all expected an inspiring future by signing of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord in 1997. However, all irrespective of men and women of CHT are still suffering from insecurity due to non-implementation of CHT Accord” says Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma, president of PCJSS and chairman of CHT Regional Council (CHTRC).
Mr. Larma said it at the discussion meeting organised by Parbatya Chattagram Mahila Samity (PCMS) (CHT Women’s Association) and Hill Women’s Federation (HWF) on the occasion of international women day on 8 March 2012 in Rangamati with the slogan ‘connecting girls, inspiring futures’, ‘ensuring a violence-free life for indigenous women’ and ‘strengthen CHT Accord implementation movement with a aim to establish equal dignity of Jumma women’.
Earlier a colourful rally was brought out from Shilpakala Academy of Rajbari with banners and placards hoisting different demands of Jumma women. The rally ended at Shilpakala Academy moving round Banarupa bazaar. Hundreds of women and men participated in this rally.
The rally was followed by the discussion meeting at Shilpakala Academy. Presided over by vice president of PCMS Ms. Joyati Chakma Inu, Mr. Larma was present in this discussion as chief guest. Besides, former president of PCMS and member of CHTRC Ms. Madhabi Lata Chakma, convenor of M N Larma Memorial Foundation Mr. Bijoy Keton Chakma, assistant information and publicity secretary of PCJSS Mr. Sajib Chakma, women rights activist Advocate Susmita Chakma, assistant general secretary of Rangamati district branch of PCJSS Mr. Sharat Jyoti Chakma, general secretary of PCMS Mr. Suprava Chakma, president of Rangamati district branch of Parbatya Chattagram Juba Samity (CHT Youth Association) Mr. Sunirmal Dewan and finance secretary of Hill Students Council (PCP) Mr. Dhiresh Chakma spoke in the discussion. President of Rangamati district branch of HWF Ms. Ripi Chakma delivered welcome speech while organising secretary of PCMS Ms. Moni Chakma conducted the event.
In his speech as chief guest, Mr. Larma also said, “If we want to ensure violence-free life for indigenous peoples, implementation of the CHT Accord is a must”. Though the government is reiterating her sincere to implement the Accord and to establish rights of indigenous women, but the government is yet to take initiative in this regard, Mr. Larma alleged. He is not hopeful to implement the Accord by the government, he said.
Mr. Larma also opined that if women are not involved with all spares of life, a just and welfare society can not be ensured. Discrimination between men and women in social, economic and political aspects still exist, he added.
Member of CHTRC Ms. Madhabi Lata Chakma said that in establishing equal dignity and equal rights of women, there is no alternative to wage united movement by men and women.
Advocate Susmita Chakma said that implementation of CHT Accord is a must to ensure rights of indigenous Jumma women. Jumma women are still suffering from violence due to non-implementation of CHT Accord, she added.
General Secretary of PCMS Suprava Chakma expressed her grief saying that Jumma women are still passing days with insecurity and suffering from their just rights as the CHT Accord which was achieved by sacrificing bloods and prestige of women is yet to be implemented.
Speakers of the discussion also criticized present government for following delay-dallying tactics in implementing the CHT Accord. They also urged government to take immediate action to implement the Accord and to amend CHT Land Dispute Resolution Act 2001 as per joint recommendations of CHTRC and Ministry of CHT Affairs during on-going session of the parliament.

Courtesy: PCJSS

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ensure justice to the indigenous women demanded

Ensure justice to the indigenous women by taking step to stop all kind of violence against them, demanded indigenous women

Leaders of the indigenous women’s organisations demanded to ensure justice to the indigenous women by taking necessary step to stop all kind of violence against indigenous women. They said that the biggest concern in brutal violence against indigenous women was the lack of access to justice and absolute impunity that perpetrators enjoy. Violence against indigenous women both in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and plain land were successively increasing due to failing bringing perpetrators to the justice, indigenous women leaders alleged.

This demand was raised at a human chain and rally jointly organised by Adivasi Nari Parishad (Indigenous Women Council) from north Bengali, Hill Women’s Federation from CHT, Adival Nari Unnayan Sangathan (Indigenous Women Development Organisation) from greater Sylhet and Abima Michik Association (Abima Women Association) from greater Mymensingh in cooperation of Kapaeeng Foundation on 6 March 2012 from 10.30 am to 12.00 noon at Shahbag (in front of National Museum) in Dhaka on the occasion of International Women Day with the slogan “Connecting girls, inspiring futures: ensuring a just and violence-free life for indigenous women”.

Several rights organisations, such as, Bangladesh Nari Pragati Sangha, Karmojibi Nari, Nari Pokhkho, Bangladesh Mohila Parishad, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Indigenous Peoples Development Services, Hill Students Council, Bangladesh Adivasi Chhatra Sangram Parishad, Bangladesh Adivasi Cultural Forum, Bangladesh Chhatra Union, Garo Students Union (GASU) and Oxfam expressed solidarity with the demand of indigenous women’s organisations.
Chairperson of Abima Michik Association Ms. Minu Mrong claimed that indigenous women were always victim of rape. They were facing not only physical torture, but various form of inhuman discrimination. The indigenous women of Modhupur were not different. She demanded to stop violation immediately over women and to make sure appropriate justice.
Former president of Hill Women’s Federation and general secretary of Kapaeeng Foundation Ms. Chaitali Tripura said that indigenous women were victims of various forms of repression. They were victims of state violence in one hand and also victims of social discrimination on the other. Though present grand alliance government made amendment to the constitution, but did not recognize fundamental rights of indigenous peoples including their own national identities, languages and cultures. There is reserved seat for women in the parliament and local government bodies, but no separate reservation for indigenous women. There is no separate chapter for indigenous women in the National Women Development Policy. She urged government to ensure rights of indigenous women by implementing the 7-point demands of indigenous women placed by the indigenous women&r! squo;s organisations.
Organizing secretary of Bangladesh Mohila Parishad Ms. Rakhi Purakayostha said that though present government promised to implement CHT Accord, but failed to comply with this commitment. She added that in recent years indigenous women were continuing movement in the street in Dhaka and consequently support of the civic groups of the country increased. She urged indigenous women to keep movement continue till to final achievement. She expressed his solidarity with indigenous women organization’s demand and expressed her deeply mourning to Kalpana Chakma who was abducted in 1990s.
Executive Director of Kormojibi Nari Ms. Rokeya Rafique Baby said that indigenous women were most marginalized section of the society. They were suffering from deprivation of political, economic and social rights. Indigenous peoples beared unique distinct culture. Everybody had rights to live with dignity in the country. She called government to ensure indigenous women’s rights.
Manager of Manusher Janno Foundation Ms. Tandra Chakma said that there was some issues regarding indigenous women included in the National Women Development Policy, but these were only to preserve distinct culture of indigenous women. But no issue regarding reservation of seat for indigenous women in the parliament and local government bodies were mentioned in the policy, she alleged.
Presided over by chairperson of Adivasi Nari Parishad Ms. Basanti Murmu, the human chain was addressed by Ms. Dilara Rekha of Bangladesh Nari Pragati Sangha, Mr. Rabindranath Saren of Jatiyo Adivasi Parishad, Mr. Mangal Kumar Chakma of PCJSS, Mr. Ujjal Azim of Oxfam (Project Officer), Ms. Minbui Pala from greater Sylhet region, Mr. Ferdous Ahmed Ujjal of Banngaldesh Students Union and Mr. Harendranath Singh of Adivasi Juba Parishad. Indigenous rights activist Ms. Rakhi Mrong read out declaration of four indigenous women’s organisations while organizing secretary of Hill Women’s Federation Ms. Chanchana Chakma conducted the event. The human chain was followed by a colourful rally. The rally was started from National Museum of Shahbag area and ended at central Shaheed Minar of Dhaka University. Hundreds of indigenous women and men and mainstre! am women participated in the rally.
The following 7-point of demands raised by indigenous women’s organizations were as follows:
  • Stop all kinds of violence against indigenous women and examplary punish those who were involved;
  • Ensure equal dignity and rights of indigenous women in all aspects;
  • Ensure all fundamental rights including education, healthcare, employment, equal wage of indigenous women;
  • Make sure indigenous women’s representatives and partnership in all aspects including parliament and local government bodies;
  • Insert a separate chapter in the National Women Development Policy for indigenous women terming them as ‘Indigenous Women’
  • Provide constitutional recognition of fundamental rights of indigenous peoples including their own national identities, languages and cultures;
  • Implement CHT Accord immediately and fully.
Please visit following link for media news:

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Human chain in CHT demanding amendment of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act

Amendment of CHT Land Commission Act during current session of parliament demanded

On 1 March 2012 Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) regional chapter of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum (BIPF) organised human chain at the headquarters of three hill districts of CHT demanding amendment of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001 as per CHT Accord during on-going session of the Jatiya Sangsad (Parliament). Removal of Khademul Islam Chowdhury from his chairmanship of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission (CHTLDRC) for his controversial and illegal works was also demanded in this human chain.

In Rangamati, M N Larma Memorial Foundation and CHT Citizens’ Committee also participated in the human chain formed in front of the office of Rangamati Deputy Commissioner. Presided over by Prakriti Ranjan Chakma, convenor of CHT regional chapter of the BIPF, the human chain was conducted by Bodhi Satta Chakma, member-secretary of CHT regional chapter of the BIPF.
Prakriti Ranjan Chakma expressed his dissatisfaction for non-implementation of CHT Accord even after the passing of 14 years. He urged government of Bangladesh to amend CHT Land Dispute Resolution Act 2001 within on-going session of Jatiya Sangsad as per provisions of the CHT Accord.
General Secretary of Adivasi Samajik Forum Sukumar Dewan said that there is no such instance to delay willfully in implementing the Accord in the world history unlike CHT Accord. However, Prime Minister received UNESCO peace prize for this Accord. The images of the country is being destroyed by non-implementing the Accord, he added. He expressed concern that chairman of CHT Land Commission is continuing work autocratically and his work is completely ill-motivated and pre-planned.
Convenor of CHT Citizens’ Committee Goutam Dewan said that the main objectives in forming the CHT Land Commission is to settle all land disputes including returning back of forcible occupation of returnee Jumma refugees by Bengali settlers. However, chairman of land commission is conducting his work without convening meeting of the Commission and declaring one after another controversial programme including land survey and hearing of land dispute cases which were completely illegal and motivated. He expressed his concern questioning that how Khademul Islam Chowdhury wants to start hearing of land dispute cases without framing rules of business of the Commission as directed in its Act. From where does he get support for this illegal and controversial work? He made question whether he physically was well.
Convenor of M N Larma Memorial Foundation Bijoy Keton Chakma said that government did not keep its words committed in the CHT Accord. Government continued to ignore our demand for implementation of CHT Accord. Huge participation of this human chain proved that demand for amendment of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Act is turned into popular public demand.
Member-Secretary of M N Larma Memorial Foundation Mangal Kumar Chakma expressed his concern saying that government kept pending amendment of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Act year after years though it was decided to amend the Act in several inter-ministerial meetings. He demanded to amend the contradictory provisions of the Land Commission Act within current winter session of the Parliament. He also criticized chairman of Land Commission for his conspiracy to hold hearing of land dispute cases on 28-29 February 2012 without amendment of Land Dispute Resolution Act and demanded to remove him from his chairmanship.
Besides, Uthan Marma of Bangladesh Marma Students Council and Suprava Chakma of CHT Mahila Samity also spoke in the human chain. Jayoti Chakma Inu of CHT Mahila Samity read out the memorandum sent to the Prime Minister.
The human chain was followed by submission of memorandum to the Prime Minister demanding amendment of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001 as per CHT Accord within on-going session of the Jatiya Sangsad (Parliament) and removal of Khademul Islam Chowdhury from his chairmanship of the Commission (CHTLDRC) for his controversial work. The memorandum was signed by 19 eminent citizens including Prakriti Ranjan Chakma of BIPF, Sukumar Dewan of Adivasi Samajik Forum, Goutam Dewan and Mong Sanoo Chowdhury of CHT Citizens’ Committee, veteran lawyer Jnanendu Bikash Chakma, former member of Rangamati Hill District Council Rati Kanta Tanchangya, retired agriculture officer Kajal Talukdar, former district education officer Anjulika Khisa, former president of Rangamati Bar Association Dinanath Tangchangya, member-secretary of M N Larma Memorial Foundation Mangal Kumar Chakma et al.
In Khagrachari, the human chain was formed at Shapla Chattar with leader of BIPF Chaithowai Marma in the chair. Sadhan Tripura of Tripura Student Forum, Sunenda Marma of Marma Student Council, women rights activist Namita Chakma, Mongse Thui Marma et al spoke in the human chain.
In Bandarban, human chain was formed in front of Bandarban press club. Eminent members of civic group including Zumlian Amlai Bawm of CHT Forest and Land Rights Movement with Juli Mong Marma in the chair.
It is mentionable that on 12 July 2001, just the day before the handing over charge to the Caretaker Government, the previous Awami League government hurriedly passed the “CHT Land (Disputes Settlement) Commission Act 2001” in the parliament without taking into account the advice and recommendations given by the CHTRC. As a result, so many provisions crept into the Act which were contradictory to the CHT Accord and detrimental to the interest of the Jumma people.
With the grand alliance forming a new government in January 2009, the CHTRC again sent the recommendation to the government on 7 May 2009 for consideration. Accordingly several meetings on amendment of CHT Land Dispute Settlement Commission Act were held during the period of present government.
The 4th meeting of the CHT Accord Implementation Committee held in Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban in Dhaka on 22 January 2012 with Ms. Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury in the chair decided to amend the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001 as per recommendations of CHT Regional Council and CHT Affairs Ministry in the winter session of the Parliament.

Following is the memorandum sent to PM :


Call for end to CHT land disputes

Call for end to CHT land disputes

Speakers at a national dialogue Tuesday called for immediate solution to longstanding land disputes in Chittagong Hill Tracts to avoid possible flare-up over the issue.
The existing crisis over land disputes will have to be resolved soon otherwise violent clashes may erupt anytime in CHT region, they told the programme at CIRDAP auditorium in the city.
Nagarik Sanghati, Parbatya Campaign Group and Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihood (CSRL) jointly organised the dialogue ‘Plan to Resolve Land Dispute of Indigenous People in CHT’.
Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Prof. Mizanur Rahman addressed as chief guest the programme with President of Citizen Solidarity ASM Atikur Rahman in the chair.
Prof. Mizanur Rahman said there are three kinds of ownership recognised in the country’s constitution excluding the community ownership of indigenous people over land.
“A concept is there that all citizens have equal rights to land anywhere in the country including CHT but a kind of politics misleads it to make people fool,” he added.
“We need to recognise the traditional land rights of people to put an end to the growing land ownership crisis in the CHT region,” the NHRC chairman noted.
He also stressed that distance between the state and the indigenous people should be reduced to establish peach in the CHT region.
Civil society can play role in removing the distance, he said adding, “If the civil society took the initiative, the NHRC will provide all-out support to them in this regard.”
Columnist Syed Abul Moksud in his speech said that the CHT issue is political one, and political goodwill is a must to resolve the land dispute problem in the CHT region.
“CHT people are living in a critical situation and if the existing land dispute problem continues, they (CHT people) will disappear after 15-20 years,” he added.
Prof Mesbah Kamal said, “Existing crisis in the CHT is not regional problem. It is a national problem and the policy makers of the government need to understand it.
Many CHT people, present in the dialogue, criticised the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission Chairman Justice Khademul Islam Chowdhury and demanded his removal.
Rothi Chakma, Subal Sarkar, Dr Abdul Hai Majumder, Ferdous Alam Ujjal, Javed Ikbal and Anisuzzaman Anis, among others, spoke at the programme.

courtesy: The Daily Sun


NHRC emphasises equitable solution to CHT land dispute

The longstanding land dispute in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) should be resolved based on equity, said National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairman Prof Mizanur Rahman yesterday.

“A concept is there that all citizens have the equal rights to own lands in the CHT. One kind of politics is hidden there in this concept to fool people,” he told a dialogue at Cirdap auditorium in the city.

“But since the people of the region are underprivileged, the land dispute issues should be resolved on the basis of equity,” he stressed.

Nagarik Sanghati, Parbattya Campaign Group and Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihood (CSRL) jointly organised the national dialogue tilted 'Plan to Resolve Land Dispute of Indigenous People in CHT'.

Chaired by Nagarik Sanghati President Prof Dr ASM Atiqur Rahman, the dialogue was also addressed by columnist Syed Abul Maksud, Prof Mizbah Kamal, CSRL Member Secretary Manisha Biswas, indigenous leader UK Jam and General Secretary of Nagarik Sanghati Sharifuzzaman Sharif.

Abul Maksud said the self-identity of the country's indigenous people is now at stake due to the land dispute in the CHT. “The right to land is as important as that to survival.”

Speaking as the chief guest, the NHRC boss said the community ownership of indigenous people over land is not recognised by the constitution. “Had it been recognised by the constitution, the customary ownership of land would have been protected.”

About the country's security status, he said it was not possible to protect a country with arms and weapons and deploying military forces. “The security could be ensured by creating a relationship of love among its citizens.”
He urged all to come forward to remove all the prevailing differences of opinions and conflicts to establish people's rights.

Prof Mizanur assured that if any initiative was taken to resolve the CHT land dispute, the NHRC would provide its all-out support to make it a success.

courtesy: The Daily Star

CHT Land Commission: Hearing on land disputes stalled‏

CHT Land Commission

Hearing on land disputes stalled

A hearing of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission in its Khagrachhari district town office yesterday was suspended due to a quorum crisis as the representatives of hill people in the commission were absent.

Only two members, commission chairman Justice (retd) Khademul Islam Chowdhury and Additional Divisional Commissioner Nurul Islam were present yesterday when 43 cases were set to be heard.

Representatives of the hill people in the committee, including CHT Regional Council Chairman Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma, Khagrachhari Hill District Council Chairman Kujendra Lal Tripura and Khagrachhari Circle Chief (Mong Raja) Saching Prue Chowdhury were absent at the first day's hearing. The commission is set to sit again today.

Meanwhile, demanding a halt to the hearing proceedings hundreds of hill people formed a human chain under the banner of Elected Jumma Representatives Council in Mohajanpara area of the town at noon.

With ruling party lawmaker Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury in the chair, the CHT Peace Accord Implementation Committee on December 26, 2010 had suspended all activities of the land commission, including hearing of the land dispute cases until the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act, 2001 is amended.

After the suspension of the hearing yesterday, Khademul expressed his dissatisfaction over the non-cooperation of the indigenous representatives. “It is surprising that most of the members of the commission were absent even though they have been availing all sorts of government facilities.”

He said the commission had prepared a total 43 cases from among 3,000 selected cases for hearing yesterday when all the applicants were present in court.

Calling for cooperation from all hill people for a betterment of the CHT people, the land commission chairman said the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act, 2001 was a complete and independent one and that it was enough to resolve the land disputes in the region.

The government is currently working on the law to bring about necessary amendments with a view to resolving the long-standing disputes.

Meanwhile, the co-chairpersons of the CHT Commission in a press statement yesterday sought Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's intervention in halting the alleged unilateral decisions by the land commission chairman to hold hearing on land disputes.

The CHT Commission statement signed by three co-chairpersons of CHT Commission, including Sultana Kamal, alleged that Khademul had unilaterally declared a resumption of the hearing despite the disagreement of the other members.

The statement added such a declaration by the commission was a violation of the provisions of the 1997 CHT Peace Accord as well as the decision of the CHT Peace Accord Implementation Committee.

courtesy: the daily star

No hearing on CHT land disputes
Ethnic leaders absent from LDRC meeting on first day

 The first day's hearing on land disputes at the Dispute Resolution Commission's (LDRC) office in Khagrachhari hill town was suspended due to absence of the commission's ethnic members.
Only two members, including LDRC chairman Justice (retired) Khademul Islam Chowdhury and Additional Divisional Commissioner Nurul Islam were present when CHT Regional Council Chairman Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, Khagrachhari Hill District Council Chairman Kujendra Lal Tripura and Circle Chief (Locally known as Mong Raja) Saching Prue Chowdhury were absent on the first day of the hearing.
Expressing dissatisfaction, LDRC chairman said, “This commission has been trying to settle land disputes in CHT since its inception in 2001.”
“It was our target that we would complete hearing of a total of 43 land dispute cases on Tuesday and on Wednesday but the LDRC initiative went in vein as ethnic members of the commission were absent”, he added.
Replying to another query, the LDRC chairman said, “It is surprising to note that most of the members of the commission were absent despite enjoying all sorts of government facilities.”
He also said they planned to settle all 5,000 cases if the members of the commission, including CHT regional council chairman Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma joined in the judgment process and co-operated with the commission.
He urged journalist to stop publishing false and fabricated reports tarnishing the image of the Land Commission.
Meanwhile, mass ethnic people under the banner of Refugee Welfare Association formed a human chain in front of Chenghi Square in the hill town on Tuesday with a demand to stop such controversial act in the name of hearing.

courtesy: The daily Sun

Invitation from Kapaeeng: Discussion on implementation of CHT Accord in Dhaka

Invitation from Kapaeeng: Discussion on implementation of CHT Accord in Dhaka

Dear Sir/Madam,
Kapaeeng Foundation and Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD) are jointly going to organise a discussion meeting titling “Implementation of CHT Accord and Election Commitment of Grand Alliance Government: Achievement and Ways Forward” on 4 March 2012 from 10.30 am at CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka.
Retired justice Golam Rabbani will preside over the discussion while Dr. Gowhar Rizvi, honourable advisor on international affairs to the Prime Minister gave his kind consent to be present as chief guest.
Among others, president of JASAD and member of the parliamentary caucus on indigenous affairs Mr. Hasanul Haq MP, eminent economist and professor of Dhaka University Dr. Abul Barakat, coordinator of Nejara Kori Ms. Khushi Kabir, member of the National Human Rights Commission Ms. Nirupa Dewan, president of Kormajibi Nari Ms. Shirin Akhtar, local leader of Awami League from Khagrachari Mr. Samir Datta Chakma, executive director of ALRD Mr. Shamsul Huda and chairman of Kapaeeng Foundation Mr. Rabindranath Soren will be present as discussant in this meeting. Information and publicity secretary of PCJSS will present keynote paper on “Implementation of CHT Accord and Election Commitment of Grand Alliance Government: Achievement and Ways Forward”.
You are cordially invited to this discussion.

Kapaeeng Foundation
(A 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

Email: kapaeeng.foundation@gmail.com, kapaeeng.watch@gmail.com, Web: www.kapaeeng.org