Bangladesh: Call for sign-ons: Request for Support on Eviction of Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh

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    Dear friends,

    We wish to draw your attention and seek your support in this urgent alert/letter of concern on the eviction of an indigenous community in Bangladesh. Please see below and attached the letter of concern.

    Should you wish to give your support to this letter, please send your name, organization and location to richard@aippnet.org and kaw@aippnet.org by May 22, 2013.

    Ms. Sheikh Hasina

    Honourable Prime Minister,
    Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh,
    Prime Minister’s Office, Tejgaon, Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Fax : +880 2 8113243 / 3244 / 1015 / 1490,
    Email: Info@pmo.gov.bd, pm@pmo.gov.bd

    Subject: Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), BANGLADESH: Chak indigenous community evicted, justice demanded.

    Dear Hom. Sheik Hasina

    We write to express our deep concern regarding the eviction and threaten to evict indigenous Chak families of villages of Baishari union of Naikhyongchari upazila in Bandarban district by Bengali land grabbers and demand immediate action against the perpetrators.

    We are informed that, 21 Chak families of Padujhiri Chak village of Alikkhying mouza under Baishari union of Naikhyongchari upazila in Bandarban district abandoned their village allegedly before the Sangrai (New Year) festival of the Chak community on April 9-10, 2013 following continuous oppression of outsider land grabbers. Most of the evicted indigenous Chak families are Jum cultivators (traditional shifting cultivator).

    From reports we received, influential land grabbers including rubber companies, different commercial companies and fundamentalist militant groups have been inciting hired miscreants and Bengali labourers to abuse the Chak villagers since 2008 with the intention of evicting them from their village and thus allowing the former to occupy the latter’s ancestral land and homesteads. Most of the evictees took shelter at premises of Baishari Upar Chak Para and with other families at Baishari Headman Para under Baishari union.

    We are likewise informed that the miscreants also commit the following regularly:

    • beat indigenous Chak villagers and seize their valuables when the villagers go to and come from the market;
    • sexually harass indigenous women and girls wherever they find them;
    • destroy Jum farms and orchard of Chak villagers ;

    Due to the unbearable harassment from these miscreants, the Chak villagers decided to abandon their village prior to their Sangrai festival this year. Five years ago, the Chak indigenous villagers of Longadu Chak Para under Baishari union fled from their village following the same unbearable harassment of Bengali land grabbers.

    It is also reported to us that while the business companies illegally occupied the traditional lands of indigenous peoples, the government authorities have not taken any actions against the land grabbers. Different companies and Bengali businessmen outside of the CHT have established rubber plantations on at least 2000 acres of land. In some cases, these plantations encroach on lands belonging to indigenous villagers. More than 11 business companies occupy thousands acres of lands titled to permanent residents of CHT including Jumma peoples. The business companies include Destiny Group, Mostafa Group, Laden Group, Shahamin Group, S Alam Group, PHP Group, Meridian Group, Exim Group, Babul Group, Agme Group etc. These companied simply appropriate the lands of the Jumma peoples just by hanging signboard on the land and threatening indigenous villagers and permanent Bengali residents to leave the area. In some cases, hired miscreants of land grabbers attacked the villagers. Amidst all these, local administration has been playing passive role which encourages the outsiders to occupy more land freely.

    Apart from Padujhiri Chak Para from which indigenous Chak villagers were evicted, another more five villages under Baishari union in Naikhyongchari upazila in which a total of 80 families are facing threat to eviction. Of them, 15 families of Baishari Tripura Para, 10 families of Toijhiri Chak Para, 15 families of Kamichara Chak Para, 15 families of Paichang Tripura Para and 25 families of Krokhyong Chak Para have face threat to eviction following land grabbing and harassment by outsider Bengali land grabbers. At any moment, 15 families of Baishari Tripura Para have to leave their village, as miscreants of land grabbers have continuously harassing them with the aim to uproot them from their village and to occupy their ancestral land and homestead.

    In 2012, in total 565 land related incidents in CHT were recorded by Kapaeeng Foundation. According to the records, 2 families were attacked, 10 persons were assaulted and injured, 13 families were uprooted and some 540 families have faced threat to eviction in connection to land grabbing in CHT. In the plains, in total some 243 incidents were recorded related to land right violation. 14 houses were burned to ahses, 28 families were attacked and 16 persons were assulted and injured. 185 families in the plains were threatened to be uprooted in 2012. The land relared incidents both in CHT and the plain in 2012 total to 808. (Human Rights Report 2012, on indigenous peoples in Bangladesh).

    The statistics shows that recently occurred violence is not any isolated incident, rather a part of the continuous and systematic repression of the state on the indigenous peoples. The state authority has failed to protect the rights of indigenous peoples in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) as well as in Bangladesh.

    According to the ILO convention 107 (Article 11), ratified by Bangladesh government, ‘‘the right of ownership, collective or individual, of the members of the populations concerned over the lands which these populations traditionally occupy shall be recognized.’’ But The Bangladesh state authority has failed to protect the rights of indigenous women.

    With this, we would like to seek your attention for your urgent action on the following:

    1. Conduct an independent and impartial investigation on the land grabbing, threatening and harassments committed by Bengali land grabbers/business companies and prosecute without impunity those involved.
    2. Take necessary measures and administrative actions to ensure security of the indigenous Chak families andrestitution of grabbed lands of indigenous peoples.
    3. Ensure arrest and punishment of the perpetrators.

    We look forward to the speedy and impartial resolution of this case and your actions on the aforementioned issues.

    Cc:

    • Dr. Dipu Moni, Honorable Minister, Foreign Ministry, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Fax: +880 2 9558566, Tel: 956-2852
    • Mr. Dipankar Talukdar MP, Honorable State Minister, CHT Affairs Ministry, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka, BANGLADESH, Tel: +880-2- 7161774, E-mail: mochtadh@bttb.net
    • Ms. Sajeda Chowdhury, Convenor of CHT Accord Implementation Committee and Deputy Leader of Jatiya Sangsad, Sangsad Bhabab, Tejgaon, Dhaka
    • Mr. Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, Chairman, CHT Regional Council, Rangamati, Chittagong Hill Tracts, BANGLADESH, Tel: +88-0351-63381, Fax: 0351-63278, E-mail: chtrc@yahoo.com
    • Mr. Promod Mankin, MP and State Minister for Ministry of Cultural Affairs,, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Contact:GOUTOM KUMAR, Senior Assistant Secretary,Section : 5 ,Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Bangladesh Secretariat ,Dhaka-1000 ,Bangladesh ,E-mail: sas5.moca@gmail.com
    • Prof. Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Chairman, National Human Rights Commission
    • GulFeshanPlaza(11thFloor),8,Sohid Sangbadik Saleena Parvin Sorok, Mogbazar,Dhaka-1217,Bangladesh,Phone#88-02-831492,Chairman#88-02-9335513;FulltimeMember#88-02-9336363;Secretary#88-02-9336863; FAX # 88-02-8333219; Email : bd@gmail.com

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