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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Massive communal attack by Bengali settlers on indigenous Jumma peoples in Taindong, Matiranga

On August 3, 2013, Bengali settlers attacked several Jumma villages in Taindong union of Matiranga Upozila (sub district of Khagrachari). The attack started at around 3 pm and lasted for the whole night. Bengali settlers looted and ransacked several hundred Jumma houses and later set fire on the houses. Our sources have confirmed that Bengali settlers set fire on atleast 350 Jumma houses, including two Buddhist temples in Sorbewor Para, Bondorsingh Para, Boga Para, Monudas Para and Talukdar Para of Taindong. Among them 46 houses were burnt to ashes. Atleast 50 Jumma peoples were wounded from the attack and 6 Jummas went missing. Out of 6 missing Jummas, 3 are feared to be dead based on information from eye witnesses. They have been identified as Arun Mohon Chakma, resident of Monudas Para;  Suresh Talukdar and his old mother from Talukdar Para.

Villagers standing by Taindong Buddhist temple on 5th August, 2 days after the incident. Photo courtesy: bdnews24

A survivor of the attack, Jyotish Chakma, son of Arun Mohan Chakma, told that he was carrying his 70 years old father on his back to flee to the jungle when the Bengali settlers attacked the Jumma villages. But at one point, the settlers snatched his father and hacked him with a dao (local machete). He had to leave his father behind in order to save his life. Two other missing people, Suresh Talukdar and his mother, are feared to be burnt down inside their houses when the settlers set fire.

An indigenous Jumma person trying to collect remaining paddy from his burnt house in Taindong, two days after the incident. Photo courtesy: bdnews24

 Following the attack, thousands of indigenous peoples were forced to flee away from their home. Times of India reported that more than 1500 indigenous peoples took shelter in the India-Bangladesh border. 

Jumma peoples take shelter at no man's land are of Joleya, Bangla-Indo border. courtesy: Tripura Chakma Students' Council

The Bengali settlers had been trying to stage communal attack on the indigenous inhabited area of Taindong for a long time with the aim of grabbing their lands. On August 3, at around 11 am in the morning, Bengali settlers started gathering at Taindong Bazar area with sharp knife and machetes, claiming that indigenous miscreants have kidnapped a Bengali person named Kamal Hossain (age 26), who is a motorcycle driver by profession. Amrito Ranjon Chakma,- village head of Bondorsingh Para (area),  and Fonibhushon Chakma,-UP member from Ward No. 1 of Taindong, told members of chtnewsupdate, “ the Bengali settlers asked us to go to Taindong Bazar area to help finding Kamal Hossain. We went there to help them. At one stage, all of a sudden, they started beating us. They were shouting 'attack the indigenous villages'. Out of nowhere, hundreds of Bengali settlers joined the attack.” 

Fonibhushon Chakma, Amriton Ranjon Chakma, Hala Haji Chakma and Supayan Chakma were the first victims of the attack. They were beaten indiscriminately by the Bengali settlers. They were undergoing treatment when members from chtnewsupdate spoke to them.

Jumma villagers took shelter at Joleya, Indo-Bangla border. Photo courtesy: Tripura Chakma Students' Council

Jummas at no man's land. Camera: Hiralal Deb Barma.

It has been confirmed that the alleged kidnapping of Kamal Hossain was completely a staged drama in order to find an excuse to attack Jumma villages. Police found him at around 5 pm on the incident-day. However, it did not stop the Bengali settlers from attacking indigenous peoples and their villages. They continued their attack despite the fact that police found the alleged kidnapped person.
 On August 6, ProthomAlo, a leading Bengali newspaper of Bangladesh, quoted Shahjahan Rahman, Assistant Police Super of Ramgarh Circle: “This was not kidnapping, the whole thing was a staged drama.” The newspaper also quoted UP member Fonibhushon Chakma: “This was a pre-planned drama. They master-planned the incident to evict the indigenous peoples and to make them financially vulnerable." 

Jummas at no man's land. Photo Courtesy: Tripura Chakma Students' Council

Jummas under supervision of Border Security Force (BSF) of India. Photo Courtesy: Tripura Chakma Students' Council

Thos who have even a little bit idea about Chittagong Hill Tracts, know that such kind of pre-planned attack on indigenous villages is nothing new. Human rights monitoring cell of UPDF (a political party of indigenous peoples of CHT), recorded 5 such communal attacks on indigenous peoples of Matiranga from January 2013 to August 3, 2013. Sachib Chakma, chief of the monitoring cell said that “Since January, Matiranga has seen five attacks by Bengali settlers, resulting in the death or injury of dozens of innocent Jumma people. Several hundred houses in fourteen villages have been burnt down during these deadly attacks, while the attackers resorted to widespread looting.”

 The security forces claimed that due to their rapid intervention, the Bengali miscreants could not carry out much damage. However, while speaking to members of chtnewsupdate team, Jumma victims confirmed that when Bengali settlers were attacking their villages, members of BGB (Border Guard of Bangladesh) were right behind them. They blamed the attack was led by BGB members.

In the meantime, on August 5, 2013, The American Jumma Council (AJC) staged a protest demonstration of the attack in front of UN headquarter in New York.

AJC protests infront of UN. Courtesy: AJC

-chtnewsupdate team

Friday, August 2, 2013

HWF leaders arrested, released later in Matiranga

TWO leaders of the Hill Women’s Federation, a front organization of the United Peoples’ Democratic Front, were arrested but released after more than five hours in Matiranga of Khagrachari district on July 15, 2013.

The HWF leaders – Madri Chakma, organizing secretary of its central committee and Chmapa Chakma, a member of its Dighinala Upazila unit – were arrested by Border Guards Bangladesh personnel of Palashpur Zone from the house of Anil Tripura, headman of Gorgoria Mouza, at 6pm on July 15.

The BGB men also took away Anil Tripura along with them, but he was not arrested.

The arrested HWF leaders were handed over to Matiranga police station but were released at 11:30pm under strong pressure from HWF.
The HWF leaders were staying with Anil Tripura at the time of arrest.

According to Anil Tripura, a group of BGB men led by Nayeb Rafiq from Palashpur Zonal camp, raided his house and arrested the HWF leaders.

Madri Chakma told chtnews after her release: “I asked the BGB men where we were being taken. One of them answered: ‘the zone commander wants to see you, so you must go to our zonal office’.”

But the BGB handed them over to the police instead of taking them to the BGB Palashpur zone office.

When contacted by HWF, BGB Palashpur zone commander Lt. Col. Nuruzzaman initially denied his men’s involvement in the arrest of the HWF leaders.

However, a little later he phoned Rina Dewan, general secretary of HWF, to confirm BGB’s involvement. He said: ‘BGB personnel were on patrol and arrested the HWF leaders because they were unknown to them. They were taken to Matiranga police station and will be released after a while.’

At 8pm a team of HWF led by Rina Dewan went to Matiranga police station to secure their release.

HWF has condemned the arrest of its leaders Madri Chakma and Champa Chakma without any warrant of arrest.

source: chtnews.com

press statement by the International CHT Commission (CHTC) about recent violence in the Chittagong Hill Tracts

Following is the press statement by the International CHT Commission (CHTC) about recent violence in the Chittagong Hill Tracts:

Update Report on eviction of Chak indigenous peoples by land grabbers at Naikhyongchari in Bandarban

On 13 May 2013, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Bangladesh, requested the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs (MoCHTA) to conduct an inquiry of eviction of indigenous Chak villagers from their ancestral villages in Naikhyongchari of Bandarban district and to submit the report to the NHRC. Accordingly, the MoCHTA appointed Mr. Alamgir Hosain, Deputy Secretary, to investigate the incident. After conducting investigation to the spot, Mr. Alamgir Hosain submitted the report to the NHRC.
It is mentionable that on 12 May 2013 Kapaeeng Foundation submitted a complaint to the NHRC regarding eviction of 21 Chak families of Padujhiri Chak Para of Alikkhyong mouza under Baishari union of Naikhyongchari upazila in Bandarban district. The indigenous families abandoned their village allegedly in March-April 2013 following disturbances, harassments and threats of outsider land grabbers. Most of the evicted indigenous Chak families are Jum cultivators (traditional shifting cultivator).
Mr. Alamgir Hosain, Deputy Secretary of MoCHTA, visited the spot on 29-31 May 2013 and took depositions from locals and placed his 32-page report to the NHRC on 11 June 2013. He found most of the allegation reliable and factual. He mentioned in the report that the Chak villagers abandoned their village due to continuous threats by the land grabbers to leave their villages.
The investigation report mentioned a few reasons which led to the land grabbing, such as, (1)The land grabbers never faced prosecution for their perpetration; (2) They are able to  maintain the occupation over land without any trouble somehow once if  they could grab the lands; (3) There was no survey and no land demarcation of the land ownerships; (4) Propaganda/rumors that the land will be recorded in the name of land grabbers if the land survey is conducted in future; (5) Partiality of the public representatives and government officials in favour of illegal land grabbers for several reasons; and (6) Absence of any positive role by the  Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional council (CHTRC) and Hill District Councils (HDC) regarding the issue.
The report identified 14 land grabbers, namely-
  1. Mr. Shamsul Alam (former chairman) occupied 60 acres of land;
  2. Mr. Jalal Ahmed (former chairman) gang occupied 150 ares of land;
  3. Md. Alam (defeated chairman candidate in last election) occupied 150 acres of land;
  4. Mr. A Mannan occupied 15 acres of land;
  5. Mr. Kamal occupied 20 acres of land;
  6. Mr. Maummad occupied 50 acres of land;
  7. Mr. Sirajul Hoque occupied 5 acres of land;
  8. Mahammad Ali occupied 12 acres of land;
  9. Mr. A Rashid occupied 20 acres of land;
  10. Mr. Joynal occupied 30 acres of land;
  11. Ms. Rozina occupied 15 acres of land;
  12. Moshref Ali gang occupied 25 acres of land;
  13. Md. Jakariya occupied 25 acres of land;
  14. Md. Shafiul Alam occupied 5 acres of land.
Among the land grabbers, Md. Alam and Mr. Kamal are leader of ruling Awami League. The report said that the said land grabbers occupied land and planted rubber without having permission from the Hill District Council (HDC). As per HDC Act 1989, no land of the hill tracts can be transferred, settled, leased out or acquired without having prior permission from concerned HDC. The government authorities did not take any action against the land grabbing. Besides the individual land grabbers mentioned-above, the business companies namely, Destiny Group, Mostafa group, Laden group, Shamin group, S Alam group, PHP group, Meridian group, Exim group, Babul group, Acme group are also involved in grabbing land.
The recommendations of the investigation report included the followings:
  1. To arrest and punishment of  the perpetrators who are involved in land grabbing and eviction of the Chak indigenous people of the area and restitution of the lands belong to Chak people;
  2. Rehabilitation of the evicted Chak families in their land  with full security;
  3. To fix the borders (land marks) of the  lands which  have been permited for horticulture in legal way and to take control over additionally ocupied lands of them by the government; 
  4. To provide land ownership to the local indigenous peoples and fix the borders of land owned by permanent Bengali  residents;
  5. To file case by police regarding the robbery on indigenous Chak people by miscreants apointed by land grabbers on 13 March 2013;
  6. To suspend the headman of Alikhyong mouza Chaw Hla Mong and appoint a qualified headman (traditional leader);
  7. To provide finacial support to local indigenous peoples for gardening and horticulture;
  8. To improve the road (communication) systems from union headquarter to the remote villages;
  9. Increase police petrol in the villages of the remote hilly areas (atleast once a month);
  10. To consider as well the recommendations of  Chairman of Baishari union Mohammad Manirul Hauque made during the investigation, which are as follows:
  1. In order to improve the livelihood, culture and tradition of local indigenous people, to build a ‘ Tribal Zone’ through fixing a specific area;
  2. To provide land ownership to both landless  indigenous and Bengali people;
  3. To improve communication system with indigenous villages of the remote forest areas;
  4. To provide hostel facilities for better education for indigenous people of each union of the upazila.
Subsequent to the submission of the report by the deputy secretary of MoCHTA, each Chak indigenous family was provided with some relief including 30 kg rice, 6,000 taka and one bundle of CIT sheet. Also, the headman of Alekhyong mouja Chaw Hla Mong was suspended by the authority in accordance with the recommendation. However, not with standing the specific recommendation to arrest and punishment of the perpetrators who are involved in land grabbing, robbery and eviction of the Chak indigenous people of the area, the local administration have not taken any effective measures to arrest and punish the land grabbers. Without arrest of land grabbers who are responsible to evict Chak indigenous villagers, the security of the Chak indigenous villagers will not be secured. Furthermore, though as per recommendation, a case on robbery was filed and some alleged persons namely (1) Surut Ali from Bombabil of Baishari, (2) Md. Belal from Bombabil of Baishari and Abdul Gofur from Gorjanya of Cox’s Bazaar district were arrested charging robbery by the police, but they were released on bail after a week.
Meanwhile, on 26 June 2013 the district administration arranged a meeting at Bandarban sadar upazila auditorium with the chairmen of the Upazila Parishad (local government council in upazila/sub-district level), Upazila Executive Officers (UNO), Officer-in-Charges (OCs) of the police stations, mouza headmen, chairmen of the union council (local government council in union level) and officials of the land administration. The meeting was presided over by Deputy Commissioner of Bandarban district M Tariqul Islam while the Member of Parliament (MP) of Bandarban constituency Mr. Bir Bahadur was present as the chief guest. In that meeting, though the demand of forming a committee to identify the land grabbers and restitute the lands was raised by local MP, public representatives and police officers, the Deputy Commissioner did not form any committee for this purpose. Consequently, the meeting was termed as an eye wash of the administration instead of necessary effective measures to solve the problem.
Currently, the local administration is trying to settle evicted Chak villagers on the village from where they were evicted. But local administration has not taken any measure to ensure their security. Therefore, on 30 June 2013 evicted villagers submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister demanding to cancel all leases for which the Chak villager were evicted, arrest of land grabbers and to provide adequate compensation for rehabilitation and to implement the recommendations of investigation report of the MoCHTA immediately etc.

Kapaeeng Foundation
(A Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)

An indigenous woman seriously injured on an open fired with rubber bullets by the police in Khagrachari

On 30 June 2013 around 10.30 am, a indigenous woman has been seriously injured after an open fired by riot police using rubber bullets in south Khabongpujya area of Khagrachari  district. She was identified as Chanchala Chakma (50) from Khabongpujya area of Khagrachari municipality.
It is learnt that the police and Bengali settlers jointly planned to attack indigenous community to create a rumour about a communal conflict within local indigenous villagers during the time of strike called by Democratic Youth Forum (DYF) in CHT. In this incident an indigenous woman named Chanchala Chakma (50) from south Khabongpujya area was serious injured after an open fired operation by police. She was admitted in Khagrachari hospital first and then transferred to Chittagong Medical College hospital with her critical health condition. She is a daily labour. She was working at paddy land of Khabongpujya area during the strike and became victim of police firing when started to return home from farmland.
In the mean time, a successful surgery has been done with her in a hospital for the second time on 3rd July 2013.  In total six bullets of Shatter Gun have been removed from her body. She is now under treatment of medical doctors. A week might be needed to recover her body fully, hospital authority said.
It is also reported that five more people including two indigenous women named Koni Chakma (26) and Shamalika Chakma from same the area have been roughly injured by rubber bullets used by police during the strike.
During strike on 30 June 2013, the picketers of the DYF ransacked some vehicles near fire bridge office at the south Khabongpujya area. Following this, police chased the picketers and picketers also made counter chase. At a stage, police opened fire indiscriminately. The local sources informed that at least six houses have been ransacked by a sudden attack of police and Bengali settlers in the south Khabongpujya village. The villagers urged on the urgent need to investigate the incident to the local administration.
The Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials adopted by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders held in Havana, Cuba, on 27 August to 7 September 1990 stipulates that whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, law enforcement officials shall minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life and ensure that assistance and medical aid are rendered to any injured or affected persons at the earliest possible moment and Governments shall ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offence under their law.
However, the police did not comply with this ‘Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials’. Even, government authority did not take adequate medical aid to the injured persons as per said basic principles.

Kapaeeng Foundation
(A Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)

Indigenous women leaders submit a joint statement on VAIW in Bangladesh to the UN Special Rapporteur on VAW Ms. Rashida Manjoo

On 27 May 2013, eight indigenous peoples’ organizations, namely, Kapaeeng Foundation, Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum, Bangladesh Indigenous Women Network, Jatiyo Adivasi Parishad (National Indigenous Council), Adivashi Nari Parishad (Indigenous Women Council), Joyenshahi Indigenous Development Council, Garo Indigenous Michik Association,  Abima michik Association, Bangladesh Indigenous students action Forum,  Khagrapur Mahila Kallyan Samity, Maleya Foundation submitted a joint statement on Violence Against Indigenous Women (VAIW) in Bangladesh to Ms. Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on VAW during her first visit in Bangladesh as an independent expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council. Ms. Rashida Manjoo paid visit Bangladesh from 20 to 29 May 2013.
 The statement focused on four key issues which are causing VAIW in Bangladesh and required special attention to address as follows: (1) Sexual violence against indigenous women and their access to justice; (2) Physical violence and marginalization within indigenous communities; (3) Lack of government policies and legislations; and (4) lack of political participation of indigenous women. Each issue was summarized by particular recommendations based on the views and experience by indigenous women/peoples in Bangladesh.  Ms Bipasha Chakma from Kapaeeng Foundation presented the statement of VAW issues on behalf of all signatory organizations. In order to explain the overall situation of Indigenous Women (IW) in Bangladesh, it has been informed that indigenous women are the most marginalized and vulnerable groups of women in Bangladeshi society because of their gender, ethnicity, religion and socio-economic marginalization. The VAW comes in many forms such as domestic violence, rape, assault, sexual harassment, prostitution, trafficking, abduction and forced marriage and early marriage of girls.  A discussion was carried out under the first issue that one of the biggest issues in the CHT is the increasing violence against women and the absolute impunity perpetrators enjoy due to lack of access to justice. Most of the sexual harassment such as rape and attempt to rape in CHT has been committed by the Bengali settlers and also law-enforcers. None of the women victims of violence received justice from CHT in 2007-2012. There are a number of examples that show that perpetrators enjoy full impunity in that kind of VAIW, leading to an established ‘culture of impunity’ covering the Bengali settlers and security forces in the CHT.  Secondly, reported on the physical violence and marginalization within indigenous communities. Although indigenous societies are much more liberal than the majority Muslim-Bangali society, their customary laws and family roles are just as patriarchal and discriminatory. It is noteworthy that domestic violence against indigenous women is increasing, and the patriarchal society is the root cause of domestic violence. A discriminatory customary law on inherit property and the traditional structure within indigenous community have been contributing VAIW.  Moreover, a crucial fact has been discussed in the written statement regarding women rights that IW are victims of the forced intermarriage, an instrument maneuvered by Bengalis to assimilate the indigenous people into mainstream Muslim Bengali society and to alter the demographic profile in the CHT. Many indigenous women had been kidnapped, then forcibly converted to Islam and married by Bengali Muslims. In such case, if any indigenous woman had refused to be converted and married, she was murdered. Lack of government policies and legislations of indigenous women such as the Constitution of Bangladesh does not recognize the indigenous as ‘Indigenous Peoples’, lack of clear provision for IW in the National Women’s Development Policy 2011, non activism of the Prevention of Women and Children Repression Act 2000 were contributed not to do anything substantial to stop VAIW in CHT.  Finally, it was discussed about lack of political participation of indigenous women in the parliament of Bangladesh. Although there are 50 seats are reserved for women, unfortunately there is no reservation for indigenous women in the parliament. In the CHT Accord and laws concerned, 3 out of 34 members in each Hill District Councils (HDCs) and 3 out of 22 members of CHT Regional Council (CHTRC) are reserved for women. However, except Rangamati Hill District Council, there is no women representative in current interim bodies of three HDCs, composed of 5 members each. It is noteworthy that women impact on decision-making is yet not felt strongly in both CHTRC and HDCs.


·         Take effective measures for immediate and full implementation of CHT Accord of 1997 to ensure lasting peace, security and development for indigenous women in the CHT;·         Form a special body to inquire into the sexual cases against indigenous women and bring the perpetrators into justice, ensuring exemplary punishment for the violators;·         Take effective measures to ensure access to justice for indigenous women of Bangladesh, especially making the overall legal and judiciary system as indigenous-women-friendly;·         The Government of Bangladesh can provide a strict timeline for processing VAW cases. ·         Respect traditional land rights of indigenous peoples, in compliance with ILO Convention No. 107 on Indigenous and Tribal Populations,  and pay special attention to the issue of land grabbing by land grabbers – Bengali settlers and other outsiders – to ensure security of indigenous women;·         Ensure legal and administrative arrangements for indigenous women’s representation and partnership in all levels, including the parliament and local government bodies;·         Ensure legal, logistic and all other necessary supports to the indigenous women victims of violence.·         Sensitization of law enforcement agencies and administrations with regards to VAW issues; ·         Develop specific training curricular by government on the rights of indigenous peoples including Indigenous women, CHT Accord, the country’s cultural diversity and special legal and legislative framework for CHT and indigenous peoples for Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre (BPATC) to train its public servants;·         Provide training to traditional leaders on women rights reviewing their arbitration system by Bangladesh Government. ·         Develop an action plan to prevent VAW in CHT in collaboration with NGOs and civil society.·         Inserting a separate chapter in the National Women Development Policy for indigenous women terming them as ‘Indigenous Women. ·         Ensure reserve seats for indigenous women representatives from plains and CHT

courtesy: Kapaeeng Foundation

(A Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)

Rights groups demand amendment of CHT Land Commission Act as per agreed 13 point amendment proposals

Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum, Sampriti Manch and Jana Udyog demanded amendment of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act of 2001 as per 13 point recommendations of CHT Regional Council and CHT Affairs Ministry which were also endorsed by CHT Accord Implementation Committee and Inter-ministerial Meeting held on 30 July 2012 with the Law Minister in the chair.
 The three rights organisations raised this demand in a press conference organised at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity in Dhaka on 28 June 2013. General Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Mr. Sanjeeb Drong moderated the conference while teacher of Dhaka University and member-secretary of Sampriti Manch Dr. Sourav Shikder, on behalf of three rights organisations, read out a written statement of the rights organisations. Besides, eminent columnist and researcher Mr. Syed Abul Moqsud, eminent theatre activist Mr. Mamunur Rashid, executive director of IED Mr. Numan Ahmad Khan, chairperson of Kapaeeng Foundation and Jatiya Adivasi Parishad Mr. Rabindranath Soren and teacher of Dhaka University Mr. Shantunu Majumder were present in this press conference. In the written statement, Dr. Sourav Shikder said that in order to amend contradictory provisions of the CHT Land Disputes Resolution Commission Act of 2001, on 27 May 2013 the Land Ministry placed a draft amendment bill titled “CHT Land Disputes Resolution Commission Act (Amendment) Bill 2013” before the Cabinet and accordingly on 3 June 2013 the Cabinet approved this amendment Bill. Again, on 16 June 2013 the amendment Bill of 2013 has been introduced in the Parliament for adoption. The Parliament sent it to the Parliamentary Stating Committee on the Land Ministry for review. The leaders of these three rights organizations expressed their concerns as the said Amendment Bill of 2013 was not framed as per 13 point recommendations mentioned-above. However, they welcomed government of Bangladesh for properly incorporation of 10 amendment proposal, out of the 13, in the “CHT Land Disputes Resolution Commission Act (Amendment) Bill 2013”. They also opined that eight amendment proposals have been placed in conformity with the 13-point proposals. The most crucial issues of the eight provisions were dropping of autocratic and undemocratic power of Commission’s chairman (which stipulates that ‘in case decision is not unanimous his decision shall be treated as the decision of the Commission’) and giving priority to the indigenous persons in appointing secretary, officers and employees of the Commission. Side by side, they expressed dissatisfactions saying that two important proposals have not been incorporated properly. They further added that there were more three important provisions which were totally excluded in the Amendment Bill of 2013. The rights leaders of these three rights organizations are of opinion that if the “CHT Land Disputes Resolution Commission Act (Amendment) Bill 2013” is passed in the Parliament retaining two contradictory provisions in the Act and excluding three important amendment proposals, the another problem would be created in resolving land disputes in the CHT. Even, most of the land disputes will remain unresolved or out of jurisdiction of the Land Commission. They, for the sake of smooth and proper resolution of land disputes, demanded amendment of the contradictory provisions of the Land Commission Act of 2001 as recommended by CHT Regional Council and CHT affairs ministry and as endorsed by CHT Accord Implementation Committee and Inter-ministerial meeting held on 30 July 2012. In his speech, columnist Abul Moqsud said that the CHT Accord stipulated to resolve CHT Land disputes as per existing laws, customs and practices (usages). However, the word “practices” (usages) was not included in the Amendment Bill of 2013. He added that the word “practices” is the most important in terms of land management and administration in the CHT. He said that the indigenous peoples would face injustice if the Act is amended excluding important words, such as ‘practices’. Eminent cultural activist Mamunur Rashid said that citizens of the country became hopeful with the signing of CHT Accord in 1997. But the Accord was kept unimplemented for last 15 years, he added. The State of Bangladesh could not able to turn itself into a humanitarian state. As a result, the marginalized indigenous peoples are suffering from security in all aspects. Sanjeeb Drong suggested amending the proposed Bill by incorporating the 13 point recommendations of the CHT Regional Council, CHT Accord Implementation Committee and the inter-ministerial committee. 

Kapaeeng Foundation

Community Seminar at Sitakunda: Land rights of indigenous Tripura community will be protected, says ABM Abul Kashem MP

On 14-15 June 2013 a community seminar titled ‘Community Seminar on ILO Convention 107 and 169 and Human Rights Documentation of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Chittagong Region’ was organized by Kapaeeng Foundation at Sitakundo Regional Training Center under Sitakunda upazila in Chittagong district, supported by ILO. Mr. ABM Abul Kashem MP, Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce Ministry was present as chief guest.
Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Sitakundo Model police station Mr. Samiul Alam, Assistant Commissioner (Land) of Sitakunda upazila Mr. Abdulla Al Mamun, Organizing Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Mr. Shaktipada Tripura, Organizing Secretary of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council Mr. Tapos Hore, joint secretary of South Chittagong district branch of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council Prof. Prodip Kumar Chowdhury, general secretary of Sitakunda branch of Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council Mr. Dipok Chandra Dey, consultant of ILO Ms. Uchacha A Chak and Rabindra Tripura of Tripura Kalyan Samsad were present as special guest.
Mr. Mangal Kumar Chakma, adviser of Kapaeeng Foundation presided over the meeting and Mr. Hiran Mitra Chakma delivered the welcome speech while Ms. Falguni Tripura Flora conducted the session.
Mr. ABM Abul Kashem MP, in his speech, said that, present government is very sincere in establishing the rights of indigenous peoples. No discriminatory act will be conducted with indigenous peoples. Present government is working for ensuring all rights of indigenous peoples including land rights, educational rights and cultural rights. He said that government will take all necessary steps for promoting the rights of indigenous peoples. He also mentioned that local administration will also support the indigenous peoples. He promised to support for promoting the rights of indigenous peoples of the area.
Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Sitakunda Model police station Mr. Samiul Alam assured that he would take necessary measures in providing security of lives and property of local Tripura villagers. 
Assistant Commissioner (Land) of Sitakunda upazila Mr. Abdulla Al Mamun said that as per provision of the East Bengali Tenancy Act 1950, no land belonging to indigenous people can be transferred without approval of district Revenue Officer.
Organizing Secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Mr. Shaktipada Tripura requested ABM Abul Kashem MP and local administration to cancel lease of land given to influential Bengali businessmen violating traditional land rights of indigenous Tripura villagers in Sitakunda.
In his concluding speech, Mangal Kumar Chakma said that soon after independence of the country, the government of Bangladesh ratified ILO Convention No. 107 on Indigenous and Tribal Populations in 1972. By virtue of this Convention, the government recognized traditional land rights of indigenous peoples. However, the government did not take any initiative to protect traditional lands of indigenous peoples. He requested ABM Abul Kashem MP and local administration to protect traditional land rights of indigenous peoples as per ILO Convention No. 107.
It is worth mentioning that there are around 3,000 indigenous Tripura people living in 8 villages under Sitakunda upazila. The lands, where indigenous Tripura community have been living for generations, were given lease to influential Bengali businessmen. The lease holders and their henchmen have been threatening Tripura villagers to evict from their ancestral villages. With the intention to evict them, the gang of lease holders conducted several attacks on indigenous Tripura villagers leaving several houses ransacked and valuables of houses looted.
The community seminar was organised to building capacity of indigenous peoples human rights defenders on human rights documentation, advocacy, lobby and campaign for promotion and protection of indigenous peoples’ human rights. 42 indigenous activists from Sitakunda, Miraswarai and Fatikchari upazilas and Chittagong metropolitan city under Chittagong district, Cox’s Bazaar and Chittagong University belong to Tripura, Chakma, Marma, Thanchangya, Rakhaine and Bawm communities participated in the community seminar.

Kapaeeng Foundation
(A Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)

Five Jummas roughed up by settlers in Khagrachari

On 30th June, 2013, five Jummas were roughed up by Bengali settlers in two separate incidents in Khagrachari district.

According to sources, the Bengali settlers beat up four Jummas in Baro Pilak bazaar under Hafchari Union in Ramgarh.

The victims were identified as Babu Marma, 18, son of Aung Thoai Marma; Kyojo Chai Marma, 22, son of Momong Marma; Apru Marma, 22, son of Sachi Marma; and Mongsanu Marma.

The incident occurred in the evening when they were on their way back home in the village of Toikarma Para after working in Patachara Bana Vihara (Buddhist temple).

As soon as they reached Baro Pilak bazaar, the settlers caught and beat them in retaliation for the beating of a Bengali settler named Siddik allegedly by Democratic Youth front (DYF) activists during their roads and waterways blockade programme.

Later the army personnel from the near camp rescued the victims.

In another incident, some Bengali settler youths picked up Nitish Chakma, 18, son of Liton Chakma from Kalyanpur in Khagrachari district town.

They beat him up before handing him over to the police.

Nitish, a resident of South Pankhaiya Para of Khagrachari town, was waiting for his friend on the road at Kalyanpur when the settlers came and took him away, accusing him of taking part in attacking an autorickshaw during the roads and waterways blockade programme.

The settlers handed him over to the police after beating, but the police released him as there was no evidence of his involvement in any wrongdoing.

courtesy: chtnews.com

Bengali settler attack in Gomati: UPDF urges govt to bring back evicted villagers

On 21st June, 2013,  United Peoples’ Democratic Front (UPDF), urged the government to bring back the forty Tripura families who fled their homes in the face of a settler attack in Gomati under Matiranga Upazila in Khagrachari district.

The attack took place on Tuesday (18.06.2013) in the village of Takar Moni Para, one and a half kilometers north-east of Gomati bazar.

The victims – more than 90 persons of 40 families – fled into the jungle and finally took refuge in Birashi Muro and Heya Para villages.

Three days after the attack, they were still feeling insecure to return to their homes.

The local civil administration did not take any step to bring the villagers back and rehabilitate them.

One of the victims, Motin Tripura, however, said Lt. Col. Nuruzzaman, commander of BGB’s Palashpur Zone, had contacted him over mobile phone to assure him that no such incidents would recur in future.

“Nuruzzaman requested us to return to the village” he said.

The chief organizer of the UPDF Khagrachari Unit, Pradipan Khisha, in a statement called upon the government to bring back the evicted Tripura villagers and rehabilitate them in their own village.

He also urged the government to guarantee safety of life and property of the victims.

‘The way the local administration has denied both the attack and the resultant exodus of the villagers is regrettable and unwarranted,’ the UPDF leader said.

courtesy: chtnews.com

Civic rights team demands to protect indigenous Chak and Mro community from eviction by land grabbers in Bandarban

Civic rights activists demanded to protect indigenous Chak and Mro villagers from eviction by the land grabbers in Naikhyongchari and Lama upazila under Bandarban district and to arrest accused land grabbers as soon as possible. They demanded to return indigenous peoples land and to rehabilitate them to their own place soon.
This demand was raised by the civic rights group organized at a press conference held on 19 June 2013 at Liberation War Museum in Dhaka to express their opinion on recent fact finding mission on eviction of indigenous Chak and Mro community from their ancestral lands by the land grabbers in Naikhyongchari and Lama upazila under Bandarban district.
It is noteworthy that a civic rights team comprising of 14 persons of human rights defenders, indigenous rights activists, media activists and development workers led by eminent human rights defender Pankaj Bahttacharya conducted an on-site inquiry of eviction of indigenous Chak and Mro villagers from their ancestral villages by the land grabbers in Naikhyongchari and Lama upazila under Bandarban district.
Eminent writer and researcher Syed Abul Maksud, eminent human rights defender Pankaj Bahttacharya, President of College-University Teachers' Association Prof. Dr. Noor Mohammad, Information and Publicity Secretary of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) Mr. Mangal Kumar Chakma, Executive Director of IED Mr. Numan Ahmed Khan, Associate Professor of mass communication and journalism department of Jagannath University Mr. Rajib Mir, Deputy Director of Association for Land Reforms and Development (ALRD) Ms. Rowshan Jahan Moni were present at the press conference.
The program was presided over by Pankaj Bahttacharya and conducted by member of Kapaeeng Foundation Mr. Dipayon Khisa. Associate Professor of mass communication and journalism department of Jagannath University Mr. Rajib Mir read out a written statement on behalf of site inquiry team.
Mr. Rajib Mir stated that on 14 June 2013 a civic rights group visited the incident spot in Bandarban to observe and assess the real situation when they came to know about 21 families of indigenous Chak community were evicted by land grabbers from ancestral homes at Chak Para of Naikhangchhari upazila in Bandarban. The following day, on the 15th of June 2013, the team also visited the Baishiri area where victims took shelter in the nearing area and living like refugees in inhuman conditions.  During the visit, the team had a detailed discussion with the local leaders, accused group, police, general people at local level. On 16 June, Also the team had appointments about its visit with the Chairman of the Hill District Council, District Commissioner of Bandarban district, Bohmang circle chief and Chakma circle Chief in Bandarban.
Mr. Rajib Mir said that the recent plot to evict 21 families from their ancestral home Badojhiri shows a clear image of land grabbing in public that the land acquisition process is still going on in CHT, which basically started from 1970 by the state, security forces and all major political parties along with private and real estate companies directly or indirectly, openly or silently occupied a vast tract of land owned by the indigenous people. The total 210 Mro families at Lulaing area of Soroi union of Lama are now living under threat of existence while the Chak families from Badoljhiri took shelter under Baishari union and trying to eke out a living as day laborers. Before eviction, most of the evicted indigenous Chak families were Jum cultivators, and looting and robbery was taking place regularly in that area by Bengali settlers to snatch the earnings and benefits of indigenous peoples from market. On 1 March 2013, Bengali settlers have been attacked and looted all valuables from indigenous community houses. Finally they had no choice except leaving their places as the land grabbers kept on pressurizing them either to leave the place or face communal attack.
Some remarkable recommendations were made in the written statement by fact findings team is as follows:
1. Indigenous people have been facing forced evictions regularly in CHT, but the perpetrators’ are protected by local administrations. The protection should ensure to indigenous peoples too to pass their lives in freedom by state laws and regulations. The accused land grabbers should be arrested as soon as possible.
2. Return indigenous peoples land and rehabilitate the displaced families to their own place soon.
3. Leasing to business companies in a democratic state without public concern is an attitude of non-democratic and being the historical dominant political system. So, illegal land leasing should be cancelled.
4. At least five acres lands should be allocated for each evicted family which could be mere handover internally.
5.  Provide vocational training to evicted community using their skills and expertise in modern time.
6. Amendment of contradictory provisions of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001 as per decisions of CHT Accord Implementation Committee and Inter-ministerial meeting held on 30 July 2012 with Law Minister in the chair.
Eminent writer and researcher Syed Abul Maqsud said, government should concentrate to indigenous peoples to ensure their rights. The values and culture of all minorities in Bangladesh should get highest priority. Eviction to indigenous peoples is a human rights violation. Government is responsible for human rights violations. Even if any citizen living conditions in the face of the threat of violence and crime in a state, government is responsible for that.
Human rights defender Pankaj Bahttacharya said, Bangladesh was controlled over by the British rule in British period long time ago. Bangladeshi Government is repeating same violations with indigenous peoples what British people did with Bangladeshi during British rule in Bangladesh. Particularly, the government is applying some laws on CHT ignoring international laws and without having discussion and consultation with the CHT Regional Council. The continuous discrimination and human rights violation, land grabbing and settlers displacement in the CHT in the name of development have proved that government has a secret intention to social assimilation as well as ethnic cleaning in Bangladesh. He also added, different companies, politicians, cinema actors, civil and military officers, businessmen have been grabbing indigenous peoples land.
Mr. Bhattacharya expressed his opinion on this that this situation is pulling back into past history. It proved that Bangladesh still upholds the same situation of brutality of 1972 period of Bangladesh. However, local administration has been playing passive role which encourages the outsiders to occupy more land freely. He was wondered and asked to government – isn’t this type of situation leading once again taking up armsagainst the government by indigenous people?
Mr. Bhattacharya said more, we should not allow anymore eviction in indigenous peoples land. Government is still displacing settlers in the CHT with having indigenous people’s eviction thereby drastically changing the demographics of the region. Finally he demanded to implement the above mentioned recommendation in the statement.
Dr. Mohammad Nur Talukder said, the land grabbers are occupying lands with the intention of tobacco and rubber plantation. They are grabbing lands from innocents’ indigenous farmers showing financial interest and threat of extreme. He requested to government to stop tobacco cultivation in CHT.
Mr. Mangal Kumar Chakma said Bangladesh Government already ratified the ILO convention 107 in 1972, but neither indigenous people’s lands nor rights are protected following by this international treaty. As implication, indigenous peoples have been evicted with a silent socio demographic change of land grabbing in CHT. He requested to government to implement ILO convention 107, and CHT Accord 1997 in the CHT immediately. Besides, he demanded to amend the CHT Land Disputes Resolution Commission Act as per decision of the CHT Accord Implementation Committee and inter-ministerial meeting held on 30th June 2012 and as per recommendations of CHT Regional Council and CHT Affairs Ministry.
The members of fact finding mission team include Pankaj Bhattacharya, vice president of Sammilito Samajik Andolon; Prof. Dr.Noor Mohammad, President of College-University Teachers' Association; Mr. Numan Ahmed Khan, Executive Director of IED; Rajib Mir Associate Professor of mass communication and journalism department of Jagannath University; Dipayon Khisa, Member, Kapaeeng Foundation; Ms. Yasmin Piu, Reporter, The Daily Ittefaq; Ms. Jhorna Moni, Senior Reporter, The Daily Bhorer Kagoj; Rashed Alam, Staff Reporter, The Daily Sangbad; Ujjal Tanchangya, The Daily Samakal; Buddha Jyoti Chakma, The Daily Prothom Alo; Tanvir Ahmed, Senior Reporter, Bangla Mail 24.com; Ripan Banai, Member of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum; Tofael Ahmed, Cox’s Bazar and Arun Bikash Dey, Reporter, The Daily Star.
Please find few media reports (in English and Bangla) on this press conference.
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