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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bangladesh High Court ordered Rule Nisi on government hearing HRCBM writ on Vested Property Act

The High Court division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh delivers its Rule Nisi upon the Government on the Enemy Property ( Continuance of Emergency Provision) ( Repeal) Act 1974 and subsequently promulgated Arpita Sampatty Protapyan Ain 2001 and cicular, administrative orders.

The order calls upon the respondent to show cause as to why instructions issued in the contents of presidential order 29 of 1972, act 45 and 46 of 1974, ordinance No. 92, 93 of 1976, Arpita Sampatty Protapyan Ain 2001 and circulars issued by government that are in contradiction with the fundamental rights and the charter of declaration of Independence of Bangladesh, 10 April 1971, should not be declared to be ultra vires the constitution.The Rule Nisi also stated why the properties so far incorporated in the list as Enemy (Vested) property should not be returned to the title holder/ successor/legal possession holders and or such other or further order or orders passed as to this Court may seem fit and proper.The Rule is made returnable within 4 weeks from the 28th October 2008.

This may be mentioned that as High Court Division of the Bangladesh Supreme Court bench comprising Mr Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain and Mr Justice Qumrul Islam Siddique deliver the Rule Nisi upon the Government of Bangladesh on 28 October 2008HRCBM- Bangladesh represented by its Secretary General Rabindranath Trivedi filed the Writ under Article 102 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.Former Deputy Attorney General Barrister Nikhilesh Dutta and Senior Advocate S N Goswami moved the case for the petition and Deputy Attorney General Mr Razik Al Jali for the respondents. This may be mentioned here that Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM), an NGO possessing special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, has by its Bangladesh Chapter's Secretary General Mr Rabindranath Trivedi, who is an ex additional secretary to the Government of Bangladesh, filed a writ petition to the High Court Divisions of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh on the complete abolishment of Vested Property Act. It is alleged that interest groups of political parties in power and individuals by making use of this Vested Property Act, continue to confiscate properties belonging to the minority Hindu community, and indeed to do so with the complicity of the authorities and the influential people.The Vested Property Act represents a major source of insecurity and of human rights violation against the Hindu community in Bangladesh. It is clear that the Vested Property Act (VPA) is detrimental to minorities and to the religious harmony of Bangladesh.It may be recalled that VPA derives from the Enemy Property (Custody and Registration) Order II of 1965, promulgated in Pakistan following a brief war between India and Pakistan in September 1965. This order was directed against the Hindu minority (perceived as an enemy), and was used as an instrument for appropriating land belonging to Hindus accused of supporting India.After Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan, President of Bangladesh in his Order No-29 of 1972 ,changed the nomenclature to Vested Property Act, without altering the contain of the law. The Government of Bangladesh has, within the framework of this law, taken possession of property declared to belong to the enemy, by appropriating the property of members of the Hindu minority who had migrated to India, or by appropriating the property of people who were heirs or co –owners.It is learnt that the bench constituted with Justice Mr. Khademul Islam and Justice Mr Masuk Hossain Ahmed of High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, have received the writ petition for hearing.Former Deputy Attorney General of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and a renowned lawyer Barrister Nikhilesh Dutta will move the writ case on behalf of the petitioner.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Report on Situation of Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh

PCMS and HWF organise roundtable on national women dev policy and indigenous women's rights

Report Submitted by Kapaeeng Watch (A human rights group for indigenous peoples)
Jagannath Hall, Dhaka University Dhaka, Bangladesh

Aungkyew Mong, Coordinator

On 18 July 2008 Parbatya Chattagram Mahila Samiti (PCMS) and Hill Women's Federation (HWF) jointly organised roundtable conference on national women development policy and indigenous women's rights at VIP Lounge of national press club in Dhaka. Presided over by vice president of PCMS Ms. Jyotiprova Larma, the roundtable was attended by president of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad Aiyesha Khanam, general secretary of Bangladesh Economics Association Abul Barakat, Dhaka University teacher Dr. Sadek Halim and Dr. Meghna Guhathagurta, women affairs secretary of Bangladesh Awami League Dr. Dipumoni, president of Karmajibi Nari Ms. Shirin Akhter, human rights activist Rosaline Costa, president of Parbatya Chattagram Mahila Samity Madhabi Lata Chakma, general secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum Sanjeeb Drong and president of Dhaka Journalist Association Shah Alamgir as discussant. On behalf of PCMS and HWF, Nishi Dewan read out a paper on national women development policy and indigenous women's rights. General Secretary of HWF Ms. Shashwati Chakma conducted the roundtable. The speakers of the conference urged the indigenous women to launch a united movement with the mainstream organisations to establish the rights of the indigenous women. They urged the major political parties to incorporate the issue of rights of the ethnic minority groups in their respective manifestos. The speakers criticised the government for not taking into consideration the indigenous women's rights while formulating the National Women Development Policy 2008.
The PCMS and HWF placed a 10-point charter of demands that included followings-

  1. To insert a separate clause in the National Women Development Policy specifying the rights of the indigenous women;
  2. To take opinions from indigenous women's organisations for the same;
  3. To reserve seat in the parliament for the indigenous women;
  4. To introduce reserved seats in the local government bodies for indigenous wome;
  5. To ensure participation of the indigenous women in local and national developments;
  6. To undertake special measure for education of indigenous women and introduce primary education through mother tongue for indigenous children;
  7. To generate employments for indigenous women;
  8. To provide special training to promote interpreteneurs for indigenous women and provide loans with less interest or without interest;
  9. To take special measure for stopping violence against indigenous women; and
  10. To implement policy agenda of PRSP with an aim to ensure socio-economic development of indigenous women.

Rat Invasion: Hill people still suffer from food shortage

The Daily Star, Friday, 25 July 2008
Indigenous people in many remote villages in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) will have to suffer from lack of food grains for at least two more months until the next harvest if the government does not provide them with food. Many families in the CHT districts including Bandarban, Khagrachhari and Rangamati are now living on wild potato, arum and green leaves after rats invaded the areas last year and early this year and destroyed all their crops leading to this famine-like situation. The government and donor agencies provided them with rice immediately after the rat invasion, but that was adequate for only a month or two, they said, adding that the next harvest is due in October. "It has become very hard for us to buy rice at Tk 30 per kg as we do not have any income here," said Thiam Khub, a Bowm from Ruma Thanchi village. People in Darjeelingpara, a Bowm village at the foot of the Keokradong, are living on boiled pumpkin leaves and rice. The family of Karbari (the village chief) said none in the villages can afford boiled leaves and rice more than twice a day. They said initially they bought rice selling their cattle and poultry. But now most of them have nothing left to sell. Following bamboo blossoming last year rats invaded many CHT areas and destroyed almost everything edible. This forced many indigenous people to leave their villages. Talking to the people from Ruma Thanchi, Sungsangpara, Anandapara, Wykangpara, it was learnt that rats ate all their rice, ginger, maize, turmeric, peppers, pumpkins, oil seeds and cotton. The government provided each family with 15 kg rice while the UNDP and World Food Programme provided 30 kg rice per family in the affected areas, the locals said. But the aid exhausted within two months or just one month in the case of a bigger family, they said. Mostly Bawm, Marma, Tripura and Murung communities live in these remote villages. These people generally grow everything they need and just have to buy kerosene and salt from the market. Thiam Khub now works in the jum and weaves. He said he can weave a "thurang" in two days and sell it for Tk 100 at Ruma Bazar, about eight hours' walk from his village. But with this amount he can hardly buy 3 kgs of rice. "I am having a very hard time because if I weave thurang, I cannot work on jum," he said. "We have already sold most of the cattle in our village to buy rice. Many of us now have nothing to sell and are living on wild potatoes, arum or other wild roots," said Chandiram Tripura of Anandapara. About the relation between rat infestation and bamboo blooming, wildlife expert Dr Reza Khan said rats lose their habitats when bamboo plants die after blooming. "So, the rats come out of the bamboo bushes and attack crops," he said. As bamboo generally blooms in 20-40 years, he suggested cleaning the bamboo bushes accordingly so that bamboo cannot bloom..

Involvement of ethnic minorities demanded to conserve forests

New Age, Dhaka, Friday, 25 July 2008

Academics, experts and environmentalists on Thursday stressed the need for amendment to the 81-year-old forest act by ensuring participation of the ethnic minority community people living in the forests for its effective conservation. They observed that the forest laws had become outdated and conservation of forests would not be possible without ensuring active participation of the ethnic minorities living there. 'The rights of adivasis to forests must be ensured through amendment to the forest laws,' Syeda Rizwana Chowdhury Hassan, programme director of the Bangladesh Environment Lawyers' Association, told a workshop on 'Madhupur Shal Forest and Rights of Adivasis' at CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka. The association arranged the workshop in collaboration with Joyenshahi Adivasi Unnayan Parishad. 'According to the preamble of the Forest Act 1927, the goal of the laws was not to conserve the forest. The law was formulated to serve the interest of the colonial rulers. It must be changed as it hinders the conservation process,' she said. She called upon the government to formulate laws that would institutionalise the rights of the ethnic minorities. The government's step to replace shal trees with alien species such as eucalyptus and acacia were resulting in gradual disappearance of Madhupur Shal Forest, she observed. Special assistant to the chief adviser Raja Debashis Roy said the government was mulling over brining amendment to in the forest laws. He urged all to create awareness among all of the issues so that the political governments could take effective steps to conserve the forests and ensure the rights of the ethnic minorities. Speaking on the occasion, Ain-o-Salish Kendra executive director Sultana Kamal said, 'The adivasis have remained deprived of justice for long both from the society and the state. Unless the rights of the people living in the forest can be analysed and understood properly, the problems will not be solved.' Atiq Rahman of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies said ethnic minority community people living in the forests need to be involved with the conservation of forests. Presenting a slide show on the rights of ethnic minorities on the forest laws, Professor Sadeka Halim said, 'Amendment to the Forest Act 1927 to provide different types of co-management should be done after consultation with the adivasis living in the forests and the civil society.' A proper review of land ownership and variety of other ownerships since the British rule and customary ownership is the prerequisite to the implementation of the social afforestation programme, she added. Conducted by Nijera Kari coordinator Khushi Kabir, the workshop was also addressed by former lawmaker Promod Mankin, adivasi leader Subhas Jeng Chaam, filmmaker Ronald Halder, Modhupur upazila nirbahi officer M Parvez Rahim, forest department director Shah-e-Alam and adivasi leader Sanjeeb Drong. Joyenshahi Adivasi Unnayan Parishad president Ajoy A Mree delivered the welcome speech.

Indigenous students demand higher quota in institutions
The Daily Star, Saturday, 26 July 2008

Adibasi Students' Association in Rajshahi University, an organisation for indigenous students, at a freshers' reception held at the university central cafeteria on Thursday urged the caretaker government for increasing quota of indigenous students at all educational institutions including the university. Association president Mukul Kisko presided the reception while it was attended by former president Arab Toppo as chief guest and former executive member Dipok Ekka as special guest. Indigenous students demanded their constitutional recognition and ensuring rights to education in their mother language. They urged the government to form a body to look into their problems including those of underprivileged communities. They demanded an equal opportunity like Bangalee students in educational and other government sectors. They urged the university authorities to ensure residential facilities for them as well as increasing their scholarships.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

HRCBM's Litigation against Government of Bangladesh on Vested Property Act

High Court Division




An application under Article 102 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.



Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities, Bangladesh, represented by its Secretary General, Rabindranath Trivedi.
------------ Petitioner.


1. Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, represented by the Secretary, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Bangladesh Secretariat, Ramna, Dhaka.
2. The Secretary, Ministry of Land, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka.

3. The Secretary, Ministry of Establishment, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka.
-------------- Respondents.


in the matter of:

The Enemy Property (Continuance of Emergency Provisions) (Repeal) Act, 1974 which received the assent of the then President of People’s Republic of Bangladesh on 1st day of July, 1974 and which was deemed to have come into force on the 23rd day of March, 1974 vide and subsequently promulgated Awc©Z m¤úwË cÖZ©¨vcb AvBb,2001 vide Annexure A & A1.
Mr. Justice M. M. Ruhul Amin, the Honorable Chief Justice of Bangladesh Supreme Court and his Companion Justices of the said Hon’ble Court.

The humble petition on behalf of the petitioner above named most respectfully –


1. That the petitioner, Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities, Bangladesh, represented by its Secretary General, Rabindranath Trivedi (former Additional Secretary, Government of Bangladesh) is a permanent citizen of Bangladesh and who is working to increase awareness about Human Rights and filling public interest litigation in case of violation of fundamental rights Human Rights.

Download the complete writ petition at

Monday, August 11, 2008

Press Release: HRCBM's Writ petition against Vested Property Law at Bangladesh

HRCBM- National Chapter

[An ‘NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations’]
Telephone: 88029557590, 88027119977 Fax: 8802 9568589
e-mail : ,;


Dhaka, 11 August 2008 :

Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM), an NGO in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, has by its Bangladesh Chapter‘s Secretary General Mr Rabindranath Trivedi, who is an ex additional secretary to the Government of Bangladesh, filed a writ petition to the High Court Division bearing Writ Petition No 6092 of 2008 on Sunday the 10th August 2008.
According to the reliable source that the bench constituted with Hon’ble Justice Mr. Khademul Islam and Hon’ble Justice Mr Masuk Hossain Ahmed of High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, have received the writ petition for hearing.
The Vested Property Act represents a major source of insecurity and of human rights violation against the Hindu community. It is clear that the Vested Property Act (VPA) is detrimental to minorities and to the religious harmony of Bangladesh.
Former Deputy Attorney General of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and a renowned lawyer Barrister Nikhilesh Dutta will move the writ case on behalf of the petitioner.

It may be recalled that VPA derives from the Enemy Property (Custody and Registration) Order II of 1965, promulgated in Pakistan following a brief war between India and Pakistan in September 1965. This order was directed against the Hindu minority (perceived as an enemy), and was used as an instrument for appropriating land belonging to Hindus accused of supporting India.
After Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan, President of Bangladesh in his Order No-29 of 1972 ,changed the nomenclature to Vested Property Act ,without altering the contain of the law. The Government of Bangladesh has, within the framework of this law, taken possession of property declared to belong to the enemy, by appropriating the property of members of the Hindu minority who had migrated to India, or by appropriating the property of people who were heirs or co –owners Furthermore, to this day, interest groups of political parties in power and individuals continue to appropriate property belonging to the Hindu community, and indeed to do so with the complicity of the authorities and the influential people. In a significant number of cases, Hindus are dispossessed of their property, even when they are the legal owners of such assets. At least two million acres of land have been seized from Hindu landowners under Vested Property Act.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Trend of Silent Genocide: Institutional oppressions on Bangladesh Minorities: HRCBM's presentation before EU Parliament

Picture (Courtesy HRCBM-EU): Mr. Manik Paul at the EU Parliament.

Trend of Silent Genocide: Institutional oppressions on Bangladesh Minorities

A speech before the EU Pariliament at the forum titled “SOS Bangladesh- Informal Hearing on the Alarming Human Rights Situation in Bangladesh ” held on Thursday, June 12th, 08.


Mr. Manik Paul,
Executive Director, HRCBM-EU Directorate, Brussels, Belgium

Honorable chair, distinguished speakers, dignitaries, respected ladies and gentlemen. I feel highly privileged to join you in this important forum and share with you my concerns about alarming human rights situation in Bangladesh.

Ladies and gentlemen, the basic tenets of a civilized society are Human Rights, Democracy and Religious Freedom. These are all potentially in danger in Bangladesh at the hands of the religious extremists, those who have been working in tandem to transform Bangladesh into Taliban model Islamic theocracy.

Human Rights is the basic rights and freedoms to which all human being are entitled irrespective of their colors, faiths, languages and races. Atrocities against Bangladesh religious minorities in the form of violence, intimidations, killings, gang rape, forcible conversion and deprivation from ancestral homesteads have been taking place since long but systematically, institutionally and silently.
It is extremely alarming that the Instruments of minority repression have been gaining strength and more legitimacy with the support of governmental institutions and a few political parties.
Minorities are always been targeted to brutal persecution in Bangladesh. Unfortunately, as a matter of general practice the society look into the issue as ‘tolerable atrocities’. The famous international journal “The Economist” described the plight of the minorities as – “Bangladesh’s minorities are safe only in the departure lounge”.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we should acknowledge that these are the heinous crimes against humanity. These are the crimes intent to vanish a vast population of a religious minority group from their motherland. Considering the number of effected victims it is one of the largest silent genocide of the 21st century.

Let me explain, why this issue is labeled as “Silent Genocide”. According to the Article 6 of the International Criminal Court Statute, The crime involves, "any acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. I think the definition is very clear and "intent to destroy" is a requirement for any act to be labeled as genocide.

At this point, I would like to discuss how an infamous legislative instrument is still being used as a tool of oppression to raze out minority population from their homeland.

Enemy Property Act, a criminal act was implemented by the Government of Pakistan against its own Hindu citizens during Indo-Pak war in 1965. That infamous decree allowed the Pakistan Government to confiscate property from any Hindu deemed as an enemy of the state. Unfortunately, even emergence of secular Bangladesh couldn’t do anything better than to rename “Enemy Property” as “Vested property”. Ironically, same infamous decree found its way to become an instrument of persecution of Hindu population in the independent Bangladesh.

Research shows, in its 40 years of existence, Hindu minorities have been dispossessed of more than 2.5 millions acres land through this discriminatory law. Total 62% of Hindu families in Bangladesh have been affected by the Enemy Property Act. In fact, in 70’s my family was also dispossessed from our ancestral homestead.

Now, Bangladesh is an independent country, meaning Bangladesh is neither a part nor a successor of Pakistan since March 26, 1971. Also neither Bangladesh nor India declared any war against each other. Therefore the question is that , how enemy of Pakistan becomes the enemy of Bangladesh and for what purpose other than persecution do these laws remain in force? Logically, properties of Rajakars should be the Enemy property as they were the enemies of Bangladesh at the time of liberation war.
Let us see, who are the beneficiaries of this legislative decree? Prof.Abul Barkat, a renowned economist of Bangladesh, says - Political elements, locally influential people in collaboration with the land administration, use of force, fake documentation, death or exile of original owners have contributed to the phenomenon. Ironically, beneficiaries of the land grab through the act cut across all political party lines. Prof. Barkat showed, most of the direct beneficiaries of appropriated properties are affiliated by the major political parties.

Ladies and gentlemen, in this important forum , it is my rear opportunity to focus on a major human rights violation issue against minority women and children. Such violation seriously undermines the human dignity and values which is incomparable with the loss of properties or human lives. Since last two decades, rapes of minority women and children have extensively been using as a tool of oppression. Most of the time, perpetrators are backed by the law enforcement and judiciary personals and also aided by the local political elites and fundamentalists.

Through 1991 and 2001 election victory, BNP-Jamat coalition developed a Gang Rape culture where minority women and children were the potential victims. Scores of minority women were raped. In some cases, they were gang raped in front of their relatives. A caretaker government supported by the UN and European Union came to the power on January 11, 2007 with the promise to eradicate the Islamic extremisms and political corruptions to revert Bangladesh to a secular and pluralistic democracy. Over a year and a half have passed but no any action has yet been taken to stop minority persecution or reverse the ongoing Gang Rape culture.

Ladies and gentleman, with grave concern I need inform you that only last month alone, 7 cases of gang rapes and abductions were reported. In all incidences, Police were reluctant to register cases. Nevertheless, they insisted the victims to cooperate the perpetrators. These are a few of numerous unreported Gang Rape incidences in Bangladesh.

After the assassination of the founding Father Bangabandu Sheikh Majibur Rahman in 1975, the campaign of religious & ethnic minority persecutions resumed with pre-1971 level of intensity. It was officially licensed through the 5th and 8th amendments of the Constitution. On June 9, 1988, Islam was declared to be the state religion which was perceived by the Islamic extremists as a license of minority repressions.

In 2006, Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities filed a writ before Bangladesh High Court for the protection of minorities. Despite the favourable ruling from country’s highest court, Bangladesh Govt. is yet to implement the court order.

Statistics shows that Minority population in the country was 38% in 1951 where as about 12% were estimated in 2006. If we consider the normal birth rate of the population, statistically missing Minority population in Bangladesh since 1951 would be around 25 million till the date. Numerically, this is the triple of Belgian population.

Ladies and Gentleman, definitely migration is not the solution of the problem. Progressive political parties and civil societies of Bangladesh have to work together with other civilised international communities to combat against fundamentalism and minority repressions.

A secular pluralistic democracy is necessary in Bangladesh to reverse the tides of the Islamic militancy and migration of minority population. Otherwise, Bangladesh will be turned into another Afghanistan in a short span of time.

Respected Members of the European Parliament, Minorities of Bangladesh urge you to extend your influence to Bangladesh’s caretaker government to take necessary measures for saving the soul of the 25 million minorities, before vanishing from their ancestral homeland. Your effective intervention in this Continuing Silent Genocide is indispensable.

Thank you all for patience hearing.

SOS Bangladesh hearing at EU Parliament: media reports

MEP Johan van Hecke & MEP Bart Staes have arranged an informal hearing at EU regarding the Human Rights situations in Bangladesh. The followings are the details on the hearing:
Event: SOS Bangladesh - Informal Hearing on the Alarming Human Rights Situation in Bangladesh .
Location: European Parliament, ASP A3G3, rue Wiertz 60, 1047 Brussels.

News Reports's_human_rights_situation_42423/

EU forum expresses concern over Bangladesh’s human rights situation

Thaindian News

June 13th, 2008 - 2:00 pm ICT by IANS - Email This Post
Brussels, June 13 (IANS) A special forum at the European Parliament (EP) has expressed grave concern over the deteriorating human rights situations in Bangladesh which has been run by a military-backed government since January 2007. Speakers at the forum titled “SOS Bangladesh” held at the EP here Thursday held the caretaker government - backed by the “corrupt” military - responsible for the worsening of the human rights situation in the country, EuAsiaNews reported.
Speaking at the forum, Abdual Gaffar Chowdhury, a London-based Bangladeshi writer and journalist, described the present caretaker government in Bangladesh as a “puppet regime” because the real power lies in the hands of the corrupt military.
Over the last 16 months, more than half a million people have been arrested in the country and many of them are being held under emergency power rules, Chowdhury said.
Similar views and sentiments were expressed by other speakers at the forum organised by two Belgian members of the EP, Johan Van Hecke and Bart Staes.
Van Hecke, who belongs to the Liberals’ group in the European Parliament, said the event was organised to enable people to express their concerns.
The eurodeputy stressed that he was not linked to or favoured any political party in Bangladesh.
Bazlur Rashid Bulu, co-organiser of the event, said the activities of the caretaker government “are causing huge political and financial problems in Bangladesh”.
Bulu, who owns a restaurant called Darjeeling in Brussels, said he was grateful for the keen attention shown by the EU Parliament to the issue of human rights in Bangladesh.
Paul Manik of the Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM) called for an end to what he said were human rights abuses that continue to be perpetrated against the religious and ethnic minorities and indigenous people of Bangladesh.
He urged the 27-nation bloc to take “effective steps” to protect the rights of minorities in his country.
The forum focussed on three topics: violations of human rights in Bangladesh, the deficit of democracy and rule of law, and environmental problems and the humanitarian situation in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh’s envoy to Brussels, Abu Humayun Mohammad Moniruzzaman, said he was “very surprised” to hear the the human rights situation in his country was alarming.
He defended the reforms of the caretaker government and stressed that its main task was to conduct free and fair elections by the end of December.
“We always had a very good human rights record,” said the diplomat and referred to a recent EP resolution on Bangladesh.
The forum recommended that pressure must be put on the “military backed government to show respect to the people’s expectations and to expedite the election process”.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Adibashi Child raped at Nachole-Chapai-Nowabganj, Bangladesh

Adibashi (Indigenous people) child has been raped at Nachole-Chapai Nowabganj District on May, 1,
2008. Press conference held and Memorandum of appeal submitted to local administration for arresting the perpetrators on 18th May, 2008 (The daily Manabjamin dated 18th May, 2008)

The leaders of Adibashi Parishad of Nachole Pargana and Dighali alongwith protesters handed over a Memorandum of appeal to the Deputy Commissioner, Chapai Nowabganj on 18th May, 2008 for immediate arrest of rapist. In the evening they also hold a press conference at the auditorium of Zilla Parisahad. They alleged that a most powerful group with the collusion of police on behalf of the perpetrator trying to destroy the proofs of rape. They also alleged that the negative Medical report of rape so obtained collusively from Medical College at Chapai-Nowabganj is far from truth.

On May 1, 2008 the perpetrator- Abdus Salam (50) at village Peerpur Sahanapara allured the Adibalshi child to eat mealie and thereby misguided the victim child, raped in a shop pushing some clothes on her mouth. As a result the child became senseless and her bloody body was taken to Nachole Health Centre for admission and treatment. The victim was transferred to Chapai Nowabganj Sadar Hospital as the condition of the victim deteriorated.

Although police was informed in time, police neglected to arrest the perpetrator and he escaped.

In the memorandum of appeal it has been alleged that Md. Kowser Ali, brother of a Union Parishad member was indulging such heinous crime and he gave shelter of the perpetrator. Perpetrators, not only busy with offering bribe to local administration, but also trying to suppress the material facts with corrupted means. In the press conference Adibashi leaders– Benzamin Hamda, Bhagabat Tuvo, Nicholas Murmu were present.

HRCBM representative talked with M.H. Nuruzzaman – Superintendent of Police, Chapai-Nowabganj (Mobile No. 088-01713373813). He confirmed that although the case is true but the medical report of the Medical Board found negative and he can not interfere the medical board with regard genuineness of the incident of rape. He did not want to talk more and disconnected his telephone line.

Night long rape of mum and child in Kaligonj

Translated by Basu Bose, HRCBM

Translation of the news in ‘Daily Janata’ May 7th, 2008
Daughter strangled to death

Filed by Kaligonj reporter: The terrorists (*1) took turns through the night of May 1st and raped mum and child, in South Bhadarthi village, in Kaligonj thana. The child victim Bituni (14) is the daughter of Mr James De Silva and, was a straight ‘A’ student in Grade 8 at Saint Mary Girls School. She was gang raped throughout the night by these men and then they forced poison down her mouth, and held her mouth shut. After Bituni showed no sign of consciousness, the criminals thought she was dead, and ran away. Sima De Silva, Bituni’s mum, sought help from some local people to move the girl to a hospital, Bituni made good progress after receiving treatment at the hospital. Within a short time period, however, the rapists who had been tracking Bituni’s whereabouts arrived at the hospital and got into the recovery room of Bituni. They surrounded Bituni and strangled her. For a few days, James De Silva and family found it very difficult to file any legal charges- they were terrified due to ongoing threats, intimidation and harassment coming from these terrorists. (*1) Five days passed after this bone-chilling incident before Mr De Silva went to the local police station to file a case against the armed gang of rapists. Following details of the incident emerged according to Kaligonj thana case # 4 dated May 5th, 2008. In Tumulia union’s South Bhadarthi village in Kaligonj thana: Around 10.30 pm the culprits broke into Mr James De Silva’s house. Mehedi (22), Dulal (23), Russell (20), and three other men pointed guns at Mr De Silva’s wife Sima and raped her for two hours after when they detained her inside the bathroom. They then proceeded to rape Sima’s daughter Bituni, and, took their turns throughout the night. At the end of the ordeal, they poured some poison into Bituni’s mouth before fleeing the scene. According to some local residents of the village, Mehedi is son of Mr Abdul Aziz. Mehedi had been harassing Bituni daily on her way to the school. She had resisted these unwelcome advances – this was why Mehedi used arms (to break in to the house) to rape Bituni and her mum, and, to suffocate Bituni to her death. After having survived this unprecedented terror, and once the night was gone, the mum arranged to move Bituni in an almost unconscious state in to a local hospital. Bituni gradually recovered in the hospital after receiving treatment. Meanwhile, Mehedi and some of his friends had been watching Bituni’s whereabouts and later followed her to the hospital. They somehow, conned Bituni’s mum, and sent her out of the hospital to fetch some medicine for her daughter. When Mrs De Silva came back with the medicine, she found Bituni was held on Mehdi’s lap while she was failing in her struggle to breathe. As soon as they had noticed her being back in Bituni’s hospital room, they made their exit in a hurry. Mrs De Silva soon realised that during her absence from the hospital, Mehedi was working on the ways to throttle Bituni. In a desperate rush Bituni was soon removed to the Fortune hospital in Dhaka where the attending doctors declared her dead. Bituni’s body was buried on the same day she died in the cemetery of Tumulia church, without first documenting a report of ‘Death under suspicious circumstances.’ The gang raped mum, Sima, said: these men raped me at gunpoint first before taking their turns to rape my daughter and, then they tried to kill her by throwing poison down her throat. In the hospital soon after Bituni had recovered, they came and strangled her. Bituni’s dad, James, said: the murderers of my daughter are ‘terrorists’ of the most frightening kind- I want them tried. Had I been home on the day of the incident, I would have done every thing possible to protect the dignity of my wife and my daughter – even if I were killed by them. I don’t know why Lord has still kept me alive? Just come and see how I am barely passing my days. Mr Khandarkar Mohammed Manjir Rahman, the investigating officer & the officer in charge of the police station, said that he is trying to arrest the culprits.

Note (*1): Santrasis or terrorists in Bengali are local gangs (normally from the majority community in Bangladesh) who can be armed & routinely terrorise the helpless minorities with looting, vandalism, assaults, rape, mu

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Indigenous rights organisations holds protest meeting against arson attack and land grabbing in CHT

Report submitted by: Kapaeeng Watch.

On 26 May 2008 a protest meeting against arson attack and land grabbing at Sajek of Rangamati and at Lama of Bandarban was organised by Bangladesh Adivasi Odhikar Andolon (BAOA) and Bangladesh Indigenous Student Action Forum (BISAF) at Liberation War Museum's auditorium in Dhaka.Secretary of BAOA Professor Mesbah Kamal chaired the meeting and general secretary of BISAF Sohel Hajong presented a paper on arson attack and land grabbing in Rangamati and Bandarban. Among others, presidium member of Gono Forum Pankaj Bottachariya, indigenous rights activist Uddipan Chakma, organising secretary of BAOA Ms. Kerina Hasdak, vice president of BISAF Khokoneswar Tripura, press secretary of BAOA Rakhi Mrong, member of BAOA Soumitra Dev, organising secretary of Centre for Manipuri Studies Pari Chingthum spoke in the protest meeting. Ms. Jannat-e-Ferdousi, a senior activist of BAOA conducted the whole programme.Speakers of the protest meeting condemned the land grabbing in Lama upazila (sub-district) in Bandarban hill district by an NGO named Development Organisation of the Rural Poor (DORP) and recent arson attack on 7 indigenous villages at Sajek in Baghaichari upazila under Rangamati hill district by Bengali settlers. They demanded proper rehabilitation of Jumma victims and to return back their lands grabbed by DORP and Bengali settlers.Speakers said that about 150 houses were burnt down in the arson attack on April 20th at Sajek under Rangamati hill district. Taking part in the discussion Pankaj Bottachariya said that all temporary military camp should be withdrawn from CHT in urgent basis as per CHT Accord. In his speech he also demanded to ban all activities of DORP, a NGO working in Bandarban hill district, as it is doing harm to Tripura community, an ethnic group of the Jumma peoples. He urged the progressive sections of the citizens to come forward and join the struggle to establish fundamental rights of Jumma Peoples. He also said that at present suppression on the PCJSS leadership is going on in CHT. Dozens of leaders of PCJSS were arrested and several false cases were lodged against them. He urged the government to invite PCJSS to the ongoing dialogue as its candidate had won parliamentary seats soon after the independence of the country.Professor Mesbah Kamal expressed that political leaders are doing repeated mistake regarding the CHT issues. Sajek arson attack on indigenous villagers and land grabbing by DORP are direct result to the wrongdoing of political leaders. He urged government to take proper initiative to implement CHT Peace Accord. He also demanded to provide rehabilitation and compensation to the victims of these incidents.Replying to the allegation of land grabbing, DORP consultant Mr. Osman Goni said that they took lease this land in accordance with the regulations and controversy would be resolved legally. He alleged that unnecessary tension has been intensified regarding this issue by certain quarters. No sooner his speech, the audiences protested against his comments. They accused DORP arguing that the leasing of the land was done in violation of traditional rights of indigenous peoples and the provisions of the CHT Peace Accord.Finally the following points have demanded from the meeting:
  • Conduct judicial enquiry to the Sajek arson attack and punish the culprits involved to this incident.
  • Ban the activities of DORP in Bandarban hill district
  • Withdraw all temporary military camp from CHT
  • Make the Land Commission functioning as per CHT Accord
  • Establish separate land commission for plain land IPs
  • Rehabilitate recently settled Bengali migrants outside of CHT
  • Implement CHT Accord immediately in letter and spirit.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

She survived gang rape, poison, then was choked to death: A Christian minority girl gang rape and murdered in Bangladesh

A translation of the news in The ‘Daily Janakantha’ Dhaka, Bangladesh
Sunday, 18 May, 2008 (4th Jadish, 1415)

A picture of Miss Bituni (Ashru) De Silva (14) in her school uniform depicted in the Daily janakantha news publication.

Translated by Mr. Basu Bose

For Bituni (Ashru) De Silva, a Christian minority schoolgirl, being gang raped wasn’t enough; she had to be killed in the end.

The terrorists (*1) “Mehedi’ gang, broke into her room in the dark of night, held weapons against her face, raped her and then poured poison into her mouth.

Before raping Bituni, the same group of terrorists also, gang raped Sima,

Bituni was taken to the local hospital in a critical condition. However, the same group of rapists later traced her to the hospital bedroom, choked her, and made sure she never breathes again.

This bone-chilling incident took place in South Bhadarthi village, in Kaliganj thana, in the district of Ghazipur. On Saturday, James De Silva, father of Bituni, the murdered gang rape victim, disclosed the news at a press conference with Dhaka Reporters Unity. While speaking Bituni’s parents broke down completely.

Mr De Silva stated that these terrorists are so powerful that even five days after the incident, they are freely moving around in a heroic manner. A no arrests have been made so far; they have started intimidating Bituni’s family members. And because the family is afraid, he and his family members are hiding from these rapists and murderers.

Mr. De Silva read out a written statement at he press conference. Other family members present were wife, Sima; his second daughter Setu (11); and two sons Jay (7) and Arnab (3).

Mrs. De Silva, who was also gang raped, spoke in a broken voice- she said that the terrorists broke into their home on the night of April 30th. As she came out of her bedroom, they pressed a gun at her and grabbed her. And they took their turn in raping her in front of her daughter, Bitumen (an ‘A’ student at eight grade.0

After Bituni came forward to try to save her from further degradation, they took Mrs De Silva into the bathroom and kept her inside. And then they started raping her 14-year-old daughter. At one stage, they poured some poisonous liquid inside Bituni’s mouth, and, left her barely conscious body on the floor.

Mrs De Siva telephone her husband, James, who was in Dhaka, and informed him of what happened. Meanwhile, she had taken her gang rape victim daughter to the local hospital for treatment and care. Bituni started recovering at a slow pace. And was making good progress She was also got her speech back and begun speaking clearly up until 9 am.

The gang of rapists (Medic (240, Dulal (28), Russel (20) Sohail and Jessik) managed to arrive at the hospital and were found near Bituni. As the hospital staff had become aware of the gang rape incident, Mehedi and his gang used some pretext and persuaded Bituni’s mother (herself a gang rape victim of the same men) to go out to buy some essential medicine for Bituni. This gave them the chance to the gang for choking Bituni to death. When Bituni’s mother came back with the medicine, she found that Mehedi and his men sitting quietly and watching the unconscious body of Bituni on the hospital bed. The desperately helpless mother started frantically shaking Bitui’s body while these men quickly sneaked out of the room.

Following this horrific incident, Mrs De Silva made calls from a cell phone to inform the local news paper staff and the law enforcement authorities that Mehedis have killed Bituni by choking her to death in the hospital.

Mr James De Silva complained at the press conference that when he went to the police station to file charges, he found that Bhumulia U...C. Chairman, Mr Abu Bakar Banu, acting on behalf of the accused and pressuring him to drop the charges. As well, he was hurling profanities at Mr De Silva right inside the grounds of the police station.

Mr De Silva further complained that he found out that five days after the incident, the local police officer in charge, Mr Khandakar Sisthan, has made up a case by himself without any consent of the De Silvas. Mr Khandarkar has also entrusted himself with the responsibility of investigating the case.

In view of the above circumstances, James De Silva demands that:
Justice is done for the heinous crimes committed on his daughter;
The accused be arrested without delay; and a rapid trial held to serve exemplary punishment to those responsible for the crimes; and.
The self appointed local investigator is replaced.

Note: (*1 Santrasis or terrorists in Bengali are local gangs normally from the majority community who can be armed & routinely terrorise the helpless minorities with looting, vandalism, assaults, rape, murder etc.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

DU survey reports 61 percent indigenous people in Bangladesh face discrimination

Report: The Dailystar News

A survey on 332 indigenous people shows about 61 per cent of them are discriminated against in different ways while 76 per cent fall victim to violence and threats.
The findings of the survey conducted by Dhaka University teachers Prof Dr Nazrul Islam and Prof Dr Asif Nazrul under a project of Bangladesh Manobadhikar Bastobayan Sangstha, were revealed at a discussion meeting at the WVA auditorium in the capital yesterday.
The survey was conducted on 332 indigenous people in Jessore, Mymensingh, Chapainawabganj, Gaibandha, Jamalpur, Pabna, Rangamati, Sylhet and indigenous students of Dhaka University between March and April last year under the project Strengthening Human Rights Support through Enhancing Access to Justice for Vulnerable Groups and Advocacy for Reform.
The findings showed about 18.67 per cent of them were evicted from their ancestral land. Besides, 6.02 per cent participants in the survey believe that justice cannot be ensured by court while 5.72 per cent of them are ignorant about legal process.
The speakers at the meeting said most indigenous people are not aware of the laws that guarantee their rights. Besides, human rights organisations also fail to reach out to the victims who badly need their legal support, they said.
Member of the national committee of Manobadhikar Bastobayan Sangstha Dr Mizanur Rahman Shelly, who presided over the meeting, said the government should formulate and implement new policies to ensure the rights of indigenous people.
Executive director of the organisation advocate Elina Khan said coordination among the organisations working for the welfare of indigenous people is very important to provide them with necessary assistance.
Representatives of different organisations that provide legal support for indigenous people were also present.

CHT Land Grabbing: a NGO ‘DORP’ occupies orchards of the indigenous people in Bandarban

Report Submitted by: Aungkyew Mong, Coordinator Kapaeeng Watch

CHT Land GrabbingA NGO 'DORP' occupies orchards of the indigenous people in BandarbanVery recently a non-government organisation named Development Organisation of the Rural Poor (DORP) run by non-indigenous Bengali outsiders occupied the orchards of the indigenous Tripura community at Tongo Jiripara of Soroi union under Bandarban sadar upazila in Bandarban district.It is leant that the DORP set fire on orchards around 35 acres after cutting its trees planted by the indigenous villagers and hang up a signboard 'Swasthagram DORP' (Health Village Dorp) on that land. DORP is opposing indigenous villagers to enter to this area and threatening, otherwise, to lodge case with police station. Local Tripura villagers are passing days with fear. DORP claimed that the lands have been leased out to the DORP. However, chairman of the Bandarban Hill District Council (HDC) Mr. Thanzama Lusai and district administration said that there is no opportunity to give leasing out any land as per CHT Peace Accord.It is worth mentioning that indigenous Tripura villagers have been living in this area alongside of Sualok-Lama road 20 kilometers away from Bandarban district headquarters. Though some villagers have title deed, but most of the indigenous villagers have been using these lands for generations as per their tradition and customs without government registration.Kshetra Tripura (65), an indigenous villager said that he got settlement of 2 acres of paddy land in 1982 and built up a mix-variety orchard on 10 acres of its surrounding grove land. DORP occupied all the paddy and grove land, he added. Another villager Rongsaha Tripura said that he built up orchard on 5 acres of land 5-6 years ago. Now he became nervous seeing his orchard has completely been burnt to ashes. All the villagers including Jilya Moni Tripura, Rangkoma Tripura, Bikram Moni Tripura informed that their lands and orchards have been occupied by the DORP.Regarding setting fire, Mr. Nurul Alam, a labourer of the DORP said that they 20-25 labourers set fire on the orchards after cutting its plantation as per direction of the DORP executive director Mr. A H M Noman, field officer Mr. Iyub and Mr. Malek. As a day labourer, they have nothing to do.Referring to this incident, executive director of DORP Mr. A H M Noman said that they got lease around 150 acres of grove lands including this land. Accordingly, DORP undertook plan to build up an orchard and hospital on this land. He claimed that this land is not owned by Tripura villagers.It is found after scrutiny of the land documents at deputy commissioner's office that 25 acres land has been leased out in the name of a group of Bengalis including coordinator of DORP Babul Kumar Odhikari, A H M Noman and Nurul Islam in 2000. However, according to the CHT Peace Accord of 1997, no lease can be made without prior approval of the concerned HDC. According to the HDC Act of 1998, any lease without prior approval of HDC is completely illegal. Chairman of the Bandarban HDC Mr. Thanzama Lusai said that CHT Affairs Ministry has been asked to cancel all these leases given after CHT Peace Accord without prior approval of the HDC. He added that necessary actions would be taken after conducting inquiry on this DORP incident.Officer-in-charge (OC) of Lama police station Mr. Abul Kasem said that he heard this incident that DORP occupied land of the Tripura community. It is being looked into, he added. Chairman of the Soroi union Mr. Mohammad Ali said that DORP incident is nothing but to occupy the land of the Triupra villagers.

[This report has been prepared on basis of news published in Bengali daily 'Prothom Alo' on 18 May 2008]

10 families of indigenous community evicted by Baralekha tea estate in Moulavibazar, Bangladesh

Report submitted by: Aungkyew Mong, Coordinator Kapaeeng Watch.

10 families of indigenous community evicted by Baralekha tea estate in MoulavibazarComplaint has been received that 10 families of indigenous Khasi community of south Shahbajpur union under Baralekha upazila in Moulavibazar district became penniless losing their homesteads and panpunjies (farmland of betel-leaf). They alleged that they are victimized of the deception of Rahmania tea estate authority.Indigenous Khasi families claimed that they signed an agreement with Rahmania tea estate authority on 29 April 2006. According to the agreement, Mr. Talbi Lamin, montri (headman) of the Khasi community and Sohrab Hossain Khan have taken on 100 acres of land lease for 12 years for cultivation of betel-leaf from the Rahmania tea estate authority in lieu of taka 1,200,000 (around US$ 17,000). Accordingly, Talbi Lamin, Obet Khasi, Nineton Khasi, Adhir Khasi, Nutli Khasi, Bishu Khasi and Pius Khasi erected houses and cultivated betel-leaf.Talbi Lamin (55) alleged that Sohran Hossain Khan and caretaker of Rahmania tea estate authority Dilip Sarker forcibly took signature from him on white paper last 16 April and ordered them to leave orchard soon. He also said that violating the agreement, they incited a group of miscreants to evict their houses on 19 April. As a result, they took shelter neighbouring Singur panpunji under Kulaura upazila. He lodged a case with Baralekha magistrate court.Obet Khasi (40), Bilan Khasi (35) and Adhir Khasi (30) said that they became penniless losing their homesteads and livelihood. The owner of the tea estate Mr. Machum Ahamed Chowdhury has not been reached for his clarification. On the Other, Sohran Hossain denied to take signature on white paper from Talbi Lamin.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Fabricated Case against a Minority person at Sontala, Bangladesh

Sonatala (PS -District-Bogra), Bangladesh: Dhirendra Nath Sarkar (65) son of late Rabindra Nath Sarkar, husband of Ms. Ratna Rani Sarkar (55) of village West Tekani, P.S. Sonatala, District- Bogra –Bangladesh had been victim of village politics and a false case started against him by instigation of local chairman to grab his landed properties. Sonatala Police sent him to jail on charge of rape of minor Muslim girl –Ms. Selina Khatun (12) on 22nd April, 2008. Police also involved with this crime.

It is learnt from an appeal by Ms. Ratna Rani Sarkar (55) wife of Dhirendra Nath Sarkar praying for legal assistance that her husband was illegally detained by police on charge of fabricated and false rape case. She also stated that her husband is a diabetic patient and not habituated with sexual intercourse; in no way he could rape a girl belonging to Muslim community. Her husband is old man and got cultivable land at his village home. She got one daughter married to one physician 7 years ago and no other issue. Dhirendra is known as a very simple and law abiding citizen of Bangladesh. The people irrespective of caste and creed love him for his amiable disposition. She also explained that due to their religious faith her husband had been implicated in a nasty case with the help of local police by powerful chairman and UP members and sent to jail custody.

Some local Muslims namely 1) Md. Abdul Rahman Khandakar son of late Saamiruddin Khandakar 2) Md. Motiurul Akand son of late Naku Akanda 3) Md. Saidur Mondal son of late Mansur Ali Mondal and 4) Md. Sitabuddin Akand son of Naziruddin Akand were threatening since long for taking zizia tax (Tax imposed by Islamist on minorities to live in Bangladesh) illegally. As Dhirendra did not pay attention to their illegal demand, then there was deep conspiracy to damage his reputation.

Due to continuous repression by the above influential persons Dhirendra made a general diary entry number 680 dated 16.04.2008 at Sonatala police station alleging that the above perpetrators were threatening him for life and conspiracy made to grab his landed properties. Police was informed duly for his protection of life as was contemplated in his previous assumption.

But unfortunately there was a secret meeting amongst the conspirators and they hatched up a plan to implicate Dhirendra in a concocted non-bail able case. Ms. Selina Khatun (12) a minor Muslim girl of the same locality hired by the above conspirators, set up a case alleging that she has been raped by Dhirendra on 16th of April,2008 while Selina Khatun was going to bath at about 2.30 p.m.

Lastly on 22.04.2008 the conspirators hired the minor girl and brought her before O.C. Sonatala PS for lodging FIR against Dhirendra on the charge of rape after 6 days of alleged rape.

O.C. Sonataka PS most illegally without any investigation, not ascertaining the genuineness of allegation arrested Dhirendra and started Sonatala PS case No. 10 dated 22.04.2008 under section 9(1) of Nari-O-Shishu Nirjatan Ain, 2003.

O.C. also obtained a medical certificate from the medical doctor that Ms.Selina Khatun was sexually assaulted.

HRCBM representatives rushed to the spot on 11th of May, 2008 at about 8 p.m. and enquired about Dhirendra, asked the local people, about his character, everybody irrespective of caste and creed opined that Dhirendra is a good old man and he is loved by everybody for his amiable nature. More than 5 Muslim inhabitants of the village imparted that the case started against Dhirendra is out of vengeance and rivalry with the local competitors only to harass him in the locality.

Investigators from HRCBM went to the house of informant – Ms. Selina Khatun, found her and her poor mother, brother. They expressed that Selina has been raped by Dhirendra paying taka 100/- in a solitary room on 16th of April, 2008. HRCBM investigator asked them why the case was not started soon after the alleged incident of rape took place on 16th of April, 2008. They could not reply satisfactorily. They also could not answer why the victim was not produced before the Medical board after the alleged incident of rape on 16.04.2008.

The investigation team also scrutinized the copy of FIR lodged by Ms. Selina, on 22.04.2008; she doesn't read and write, she only gave thump impression at the FIR. Investigator examined the general diary No.680 dated 16.04.2008 filed by Dhirendra at local Police Station and the FIR filed by alleged victim of rape. It is clear from the content of FIR that the FIR is pre-meditated and the subsequent medical certificate obtained by O.C. on the question rape is far from reality. It is also clear from the contents of the FIR that the names of the witnesses are the enemy of Dhirendra who were trying to harass him since long.
The investigation team also met with Mr. A.B.M. Zahidul Islam, O.C. Sonatala PS on 12th at about 1 a.m. who was very much reluctant to talk to us, even he was threatening the team not to do the humanitarian job for the protection of rights of minorities, and O.C. started to rebuke us and prevented us from taking any picture of our discussion. He also tried to snatch away our video camera from our HR activist – Tapan Kumar Pandey. The O.C. is found to be more interested for the protection of rights of Muslim girl, although there is no prima –facie case of rape against the minority victim – Dhirendra nath Sarkar.

The team also received hundred of spot signatures irrespective of caste and creed for withdrawal of false case against this innocent minority victim.

All the statements of local people, members of victim family have been video taped. The local people also demanded punishment of the conspirators responsible for creating false case against the old and ailing Hindu victim.

Hindus lost 26 lakh acres of land in Bangladesh

By Rabindranath Trivedi

Dhaka, May 15, 2008( Members of the Hindu community have lost 26 lakh acres of land from 1965 to 2006, while an estimated one crore Hindus were forced to leave the country from 1964 to 2001 because of communal conflicts and deprivation caused by the Enemy (Vested) Property Act, according to a study reports the daily star, Dhaka. The price of the land and other movable properties lost by 12 lakh Hindu families has been estimated at Tk 350412 crore, said the study sponsored by the Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD) and Nijera Kori. The study report was published in the form of a book titled 'Deprivation of Hindu Minority in Bangladesh: Living with Vested Property', which was launched at LGED auditorium in Dhaka on 14 May. Prof Abul Barakat, lead author of the book, said the government has identified only seven lakh acres of vested land, of which two lakh acres have been leased out and five lakh acres remain under the control of the grabbers. Terming the identification of so small amount of vested land a failure of the administration, Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman, former chief adviser to a caretaker government, said the administration of the country is “impossibly inefficient.”“There is a direct link between right to property and democracy,” he said, adding that all should work to help establish the rights of those who lost their properties. In the study, Prof Barakat said, “Only five lakh people who were in power grabbed the land. This problem needs an immediate solution.” People involved with BNP politics grabbed 1749500 acres, those involved with Awami League grabbed 361400 acres, people involved with Jamaat-e-Islami grabbed 226200 acres and those engaged with Jatiya Party looted 182000 acres of vested land, said the study. Besides, 1820 acres of land was grabbed by people linked with Muslim League and 10400 acres of land by people involved with other political parties, it added. The study recommended establishing a vested property bank to maintain all statistics of such property and handing over the land to distressed and landless Hindus living in the country. Justice Golam Rabbani blamed the administration for having strong link with influential people in grabbing the enemy properties.“There will be no change without the change in attitude of the bureaucracy,” he said emphasising on strong parliament and peoples' democracy, the daily star added.
It may be mentioned that the census of 1951 reports that Muslims constituted only 19.90% in West Bengal, but now in 2001 as reported, it is 25.25%. Whereas the census of 1951 reports that Hindus constituted only 22% in East Bengal (now Bangladesh), but now in 2001 it is 9.2 %. The consequences of operation of Enemy/Vested Property Act have been, simply, gross denial of freedom and liberty, and institutionalization of systematic socio-cultural, economic and political deprivation of the Hindu minority in Bangladesh. The national disaster has been so huge that during the last four decades (1965-2006) approximately 1.2 million ( out of total 2.7 million) households or 6 million people belonging to Hindu religion are directly affected by the Enemy turned Vested Property Act and have lost , in addition to land property ,other immovable and movable property. According to the estimation of Professor Abul Barkat of Dhaka University: “ The approximate money value of such loss ( US S 55 Billion) would be equivalent to 75% of GDP of Bangladesh(in 2007).(Deprivation of Hindu Minority in Bangladesh : Living With Vested Property By Abul Barkat and 5 others, (2008) Pathak Shamabesh, Dhaka)
‘Religious minorities, principally Hindu, Christian and Buddhist make up an estimated 11% of the population. Although equal under the law, these minorities are, in practice, disadvantaged in such areas as access to government jobs and political office. Selection boards in the Government service are often without minority group representation. In the current parliament there are 04 members from minority groups, out of a total of 330. Property ownership, particularly for Hindus, has been a contentious issue since independence, when many Hindus lost land holdings due to unequal application of the law. Reported cases of violence directed against religious minority communities has resulted in loss of property, minority communities has resulted in loss of property .These actions are a symptom of the communal tension that have prompted some people belonging to minority groups to leave Bangladesh, causing a slow but steady decline in the relative size of the country’s minority population, especially Hindus.,says the US report in 1993”
It may be recalled that during the Gen. Ayub and Gen. Yahya regimes in Pakistan (1958-71) ,the Hindus suffered politically and economically. The Hindus as a political force, were suppressed to the extent of virtual non-existence. The rule of Martial Law, the Basic democracy system, Enemy Property Act (Vested Property Act), pushed them out of the political arena. The biggest problem the community was facing was that of survival Hindus were reluctant to join any political process or politics The Hindu absence from the political scene can be explained by the fact that the community had suffered the loss of many of its prominent leaders either by death or by migration.
The remaining Hindus like us might have thought it wise to wait and extent tacit support to Sheikh Mujib’s political programmes .Thus the Hindus participate in the democratic movements of 1966, 1969 and 1970’s elections. Awami League got unqualified support from the Hindus. Hindus exerted influence in making the Muslim Leadership more liberal-democratic, thereby safeguards the minority interests. Thus the Hindus in particular were targets of Pakistan-army’s campaign of genocide during the War of Liberation in 1971.During the post liberation period of Bangladesh; the Hindus were more compromising than before and consoled themselves that they are equal citizens of a People’s Republic under the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh framed in the Constituent Assembly in 1972.
The subsequent military regimes in Bangladesh after August 1975 however, reversed all the state principles of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh framed by the people’s representatives in 1972. State principle Secularism has been replaced with full trust in almighty Allah and Islam the State religion. Socialism was replaced with social justice and Bengali nationalism with Bangladeshi nationalism, presumably, to highlight the Islamic identity of the nation. Bangladeshi Hindus become second-class citizens, as they were less than 1956 constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Bangladesh under martial law regimes could not break away from the past and remained steeped in the legacy of her history of the 23-year existence as part of Pakistan. Hindu-Muslim relationship in Bangladesh was a natural corollary of the tendency to stay prisoner of the past. Hindus in Bangladesh become second-class citizens following the amendments of fifth and eighth to the constitution of Bangladesh .
Over the last three decades, India has abandoned the minority Hindus at the behest of her Transshipment, Trade imbalance, Cross border insurgency and border skirmishes, Natural Gas import issues on the table with Bangladesh. Now India is facing cross border terrorism in Eastern states. Demographic characters of eastern states have been alarmingly changed. In West Bengal the Muslim population along with Bangladesh border has totally occupied and changed, but before1972 the proportion of the Muslims was insignificant in those areas around Bangladesh.
In the past year, Bangladesh's unique democratic political system has undergone significant challenges and the upcoming elections continue to test the long-term viability of democracy in Bangladesh. Elections organized under the caretaker government that took power during the interim election period in late 2006 and early 2007, were severely criticized by many in the United States and international community. Criticism of the elections led to a military intervention by the army, which created a state of emergency and a military-backed caretaker government with elections postponed until December 2008.
The military-backed caretaker government, led by Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed, has taken steps to rid the government of corruption and return Bangladesh to democracy. However, reports indicate that their success has been inconsistent with no guarantee that reforms they have implemented can be sustained in the long-term. Some now fear that the military-backed caretaker government may be undermining the very democratic system it is seeking to reform.
The last national election of October 2001 was marred by violence, particularly targeted at Hindus, and led to a coalition government that included religiously based parties, including Islamist parties that advocated for the adoption of Sharia law and reportedly had ties to terrorists. Since the 2001 elections, religious extremists have increased attacks on religious minorities, including Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians, and other human rights have deteriorated with government impunity.
In addition to concerns over democracy and human rights created by the military-backed caretaker government and rising Islamic extremism, the recent substantial increase in food prices has also contributed to greater political instability in Bangladesh. The current period of reform by the military-backed caretaker government and elections planned for December 2008 will serve as a litmus test for the sustainability of democracy and human rights for people of all faiths in Bangladesh.
Annual Report of USCIRF-2008 issued on 2 May 2008 on Bangladesh in Washington says: Since the declaration of a state of emergency in January 2007, Bangladesh has been in the throes of a political and constitutional crisis, the resolution of which will determine whether religious freedom and other universal human rights will be protected by democratic institutions and the rule of law, or whether the country will continue on a downward spiral toward authoritarianism, militarization, and intolerance.
Since January 2007, previously scheduled national elections have been postponed, political freedoms severely curtailed and human rights abused with impunity by the security forces. These deviations from democratic norms under the current “caretaker government” raise troubling questions about the future prospects for respect for a range of freedoms, including potentially freedom of religion or belief. ……. This lack of accountability for anti-minority violence associated with the 2001 election led the Commission, minority advocates, and many others to be concerned that Bangladesh's next national elections would also result in anti-minority violence. Some individuals with whom the Commission met during the February – March 2006 visit to Bangladesh were themselves experiencing difficulties in becoming registered. Others claimed that locations dominated by minority voters had not been visited by registration officials or, on the other hand, alleged that non-citizens believed to favor Islamist parties were being registered. Widespread concerns regarding the registration process were underscored by a U.S. National Democratic Institute study that found 13 million more individuals on the voter rolls than would be eligible according to Bangladesh’s census.
The USCIRF report further added : In addition to incidents of violence, the Vested Property Act (VPA), a pre-independence law enacted in 1965 in the wake of the India-Pakistan war, continues to be used as justification by some Muslims to seize Hindu-owned land. The 2007 report of the prominent Bangladeshi human rights organization Ain O Salish Kendra (ASK) stated that in 2006 there were 54 seizures by Muslim individuals of Hindu-owned land and 43 attacks against Hindu temples by Muslims. The VPA’s implicit presumption that Hindus do not really belong in Bangladesh contributes to the perception that Hindu-owned property can be seized with impunity.
The most serious and sustained conflict along ethnic and religious lines has been in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, located on Bangladesh’s eastern border with India and Burma. The varied but wholly non-Bengali/non-Muslim indigenous peoples in this formerly autonomous area (often referred to collectively as Adivasis or Paharis) had opposed inclusion in East Pakistan during the partition of 1947, due to their identification with other tribal groups in northeast India.
Muslim Bengalis, once a tiny minority in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, now reportedly equal or outnumber members of indigenous groups. In 2007, Bangladesh human rights organizations reported a surge in Bengali settlements on tribal land in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
IV. Longer-Term Measures to Protect Universal Human Rights
The Commission recommends that the U.S. government should urge the government of Bangladesh to:
• ensure that decisions on public employment in national institutions such as the civil service, the military, law enforcement agencies, and the judiciary, including at the highest levels, do not discriminate on the basis of religious affiliation, belief, or ethnic background; conduct and publicize the results of a comprehensive survey of minority representation in the public service;
• establish effective, legally transparent mechanisms for handling complaints regarding discrimination in public employment;
• promote the use of history and social studies texts in public schools that reflect the country’s religious diversity and are reviewed by an independent panel of experts to exclude language or images that promote enmity, intolerance, hatred, or violence toward any group of persons based on religion or belief;
• repeal the Vested Property Act, discriminatory legislation that has been used unjustly to seize Hindu-owned property in the decades since Bangladesh’s independence and has continued to be used under successive governments to reward well-connected members of the majority community in Bangladesh; ( Annual Report of USCIRF-2008)
Bangladesh is under attack; she is struggling for existence as a democratic secular country. Bangladesh is now a rudderless, leaderless ship wallowing in the deep sea of conspiracy. The vision that mobilized the nation during the Liberation War in 1971, of a society economically prosperous, exploitation free, democratically governed, tolerant of pluralism, and respectful of peoples' rights, is still alive in the minds of average citizens. We demand the people's uninterrupted voting rights. ###(end)
Rabindranath Trivedi
(Retired Addl Secretary and former Press Secretary to the President of Bangladesh)
Secretary General, HRCBM-Bangladesh National Chapter

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Urgent Appeal: Violence against Women and Children in Bangladesh Must be Stopped

Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM)
P.O. Box 5493
Santa Clara, CA 95056
Ph: 212-592-3627
Fax: 215-434-6804

Monday May 10, 2008HRCBM/Bang/UA_05_10_2008/Protection_2008Bangladesh:
Violence against Women and Children in Bangladesh Must be Stopped

With deep anguish and dismay Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM) urges that the barbaric violence and extreme human rights abuses that continue to be perpetrated against the religious and ethnic minorities and indigenous people of Bangladesh, especially women and children, must be stopped.

We are shocked to report that the widespread barbaric acts of violence against the religious and ethnic minorities that started before the October 1, 2001 general election in Bangladesh, and continued throughout the period of the past BNP-Jaamat Coalition Government, are still continuing even under the current Caretaker Government and a state of emergency.

These incidents of ongoing violence and crime perpetrated against the minorities, the weaker section of the people, depict a trend towards silent genocide by a vested and powerful circle in the country. These abominable acts of violence are affecting the very fabric of our society, destroying the very foundation of rights and liberty of a democratic and civil society.

While many incidences of ongoing violence and human rights abuses against the religious and ethnic minorities and Adibasis (indigenous people) are not reaching the news media, many such reports are still being published in the national and international media everyday.

With grave concern we issue this Urgent Action Appeal to draw your attention on the four cases of gang rapes and abductions that occurred within a month. We appeal to the conscience of the people, governments and human rights institutions including the United Nation for immediate intervention to procure justice for the victims and apprehension of the criminals.

1. Case of Mili Rani Malakar: Only Adolescent Daughter of a Blind Father Abducted and Gang-raped for 7 Days in Sylhet, Bangladesh

Incident: Mili Rani Sarkar, daughter of Khoka Malakar of village Kholadapunia, Jokiganj of Sylhet was abducted on 24th April, 08 and left in a critical condition of unconscious at Bhattapara Primary School on 1 May late night, 94 miles East of Sylhet district Headquarters. Following day, local people collected some funds and sent the victim in a stage of comma to the Osmani Hospital Sylhet.

Mili Rani is the only earning member of the family as her father is blind. She used to sell vaccine for poultry firms and was barely able to feed the family with this meager income.

Current situation: Doctors of the hospital say that the condition of the patient is very critical and she was mercilessly gang raped for days together. Mili is still under the medical care of Osmani Hospital' ICU and will remain there some more days. Nobody is allowed to see or talk to her without prior local police permission.
Allegation: Police was reluctant to register case and instead was cooperating with the criminals.

For Details: Please visit or
2. Case of Upama Dutta:
A Minor Minority Girl Abducted in Dinajpur, Bangladesh

Incident: Mr. Chanchal Dutta of Barabandar under Kotwali Police Station of Dinajpur, reported that his minor daughter Miss Upama Dutta (15), a student of class IX in the local school, while going to her tutor Mr. Tapan Chakraborty's residence on 26th April at around 7:30 AM was abducted by a neighborhood hoodlum on the road, named Sohel Chowdhury, son of Alamgir Chowdhury alias Dulal Miah, a local man of Baluchar of Dinajpur. He used a motor vehicle to abduct her. Two local young men were the accomplices of this incident. The younger brother of Upama Dutta helplessly witnessed the abduction.

Allegation: Due to the pressure from influential quarters and police, victim’s father failed to register the case. Later a FIR was register on 05/01/08. A number of our volunteers called both SP of Dinajpur, Mostafa Kamal (Tel: 880-1716386246 and 880-1713373955) and Officer in Charge Mr. Matiur Rahman (Tel: 880-1713373963). However, according to HRCBM-Dinajpur and volunteers who called the Police Station reported that both police officers seem to be racially biased and are in good term with criminals.

Current situation: Despite our engagement in this case, the girl is yet to be found.

For Details: Please visit or

3. Case of a Minor Minority Girl Kidnapped at Mongla, Bangladesh

Incident: A sixteen year old daughter of Parimal Roy was preparing to appear, until this incident, at this year’s S.S.C. (Secondary School Certificate) examination from the local Amratola-Chapra Secondary School. On the fateful evening of March 2, when she went outside of her home in order to respond to nature’s call, she was abducted by a neighborhood hoodlum, Saiful Molla, son of Hai Molla, a powerful and wealthy local man. He used a motorcycle to abduct her. Two local young men named Tapas and Suman Mondal were the accomplices of this incident. When Parimal Roy approached Abdul Hai Molla and their relatives on the following day in order to apprise him of this incident, they asked Parimal Roy to keep quiet. Subsequently, Parimal Roy again brought this incident to the notice of the guardians of the abductor and other villagers but to no effect. Failing to resolve this issue with Saiful’s guardians and being unable to file a case with the local police station for fear of revenge and retaliation, Parimal came to the press club and expressed his utter grief with the question “Will they do whatever they want to do to my daughter because I am a poor, helpless man?”, while he broke down in tears.

Allegation: It is alleged that police was initially reluctant to register the case.

Current situation: HRCBM has assigned a local lawyer to handle the case but the girl is yet to be rescued.

For Details: Please visit or

4. Case of Krishna Dey (18): A Minority Married Girl Kidnapped at Noakhali, Bangladesh

Incident: On 4th April 2008 a number of hoodlums (about 9 or more) as follows:
( 1) Abdullah Al Mamun @ Rafi, (2) Moinuddin (3) Rabin son of Mannan Commissioner, (4) Manju (5) Rajib son of Moinuddin (6) Putul son of Tofail Ahmed (7) Harun son of unknown (8) Din Islam son of Abdul Hakim and (9) Hukka, all of from Begumganj -Noakhali kidnapped Mrs. Krishna Dey (18) daughter of Mr. Tapan Dey on the way to her father-in-law's home at Chandpur.

Current situation: Mr. Tapan Dey, father of the victim, lodged an FIR against those perpetrators at Begumganj Police Station on the 4th of May, 2008 (Begumganj P.S. case No. 5 dated 5.04.2008 under section 7(30) of Nari-O-Shishu Nirjatan Ain, 2000).

Arrest: Police only arrested Din Islam son of A. Hakim and Hukka today. Police has not yet arrested other accused and rescued the victim.

Local Police Station contacts: Mr. Khandakar Lutful Kabir, Superintendent of Police, Noakhali telephone Number 880-171-337-3742.

For Details: Please visit or

Note: At the time of writing this appeal, Police found to be prejudiced and reluctant to apprehend the criminals in each case.

Urgent Action Demanded
The Human Right Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM) vehemently protests and condemns these repugnant and barbaric acts of violence and violation of the rights including abduction and gang rape of the minor girls and women. We appeal to the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh, the Chief Advisor, Dr. Fakruddin Ahmed, the Chief of Army Staff, General Moeen U. Ahmed, the IG of Police, and the conscience of the peoples, governments and human rights institutions, including the United Nations, for immediate intervention to save the life and dignity of the above unfortunate victims and their helpless families, and to protect the rights of the religious and ethnic minorities and indigenous people of Bangladesh.

1. Honourable Dr. Fakhruddin AhmedChief Adviser Government of the People's Republic of BangladeshOffice of the Chief AdvisorTejgaon, Dhaka BANGLADESHFax: +880 2 811 3244 / 3243 / 1015 / 1490Tel: +880 2 882 816 079 / 988 8677

2. General Moeen U AhmedChief of Army StaffBangladesh ArmyArmy HeadquartersDhaka CantonmentDhakaBANGLADESHTel: +880 2 9870011Fax: +880 2 8754455

3. Mr. Mohammad Ruhul AminChief JusticeSupreme Court of BangladeshSupreme Court BuildingRamna, Dhaka-1000BANGLADESHFax: +880 2 956 5058Tel: +880 2 956 2792

4. Mr. A F Hassan ArifAdviserMinistry of Law, Justice & Parliamentary AffairsBangladesh SecretariatDhaka-1000BANGLADESHTel: +880 2 7160627 (O)Fax: +880 2 7168557 (O)

5. Barrister Fida M KamalAttorney General of BangladeshOffice of the Attorney GeneralSupreme Court BuildingRamna, Dhaka-1000BANGLADESHFax: +880 2 956 1568Tel: +880 2 956 2868

6. Mr. Nur MohammadInspector General of Police (IGP) Bangladesh PolicePolice Headquarters'Fulbaria, Dhaka-1000BANGLADESHFax: +880 2 956 3362 / 956 3363Tel: +880 2 956 2054 / 717 6451 / 717 6677

7. Mr. Asaduzzaman Mian Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Khulna RangeOffice of the DIG Khulna RangeKhulna BANGLADESHTel: +880 41 761823 (O) Fax: +880 41 761300 (O)

8. Mr. Hassan Mahmud KhandokarDirector General (DG)Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)RAB HeadquarterUttara, DhakaBANGLADESHTel: +88-02- 8961105 (O)Fax: +880 2 8962884 (O)

9. Ms. Hina JilaniSpecial Representative of the Secretary General for human rights defendersAtt: Melinda Ching SimonRoom 1-040, c/o OHCHR-UNOG1211 Geneva 10SWITZERLANDTel: +41 22 917 93 88Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE HUMAN RIGHTSDEFENDERS)

Salutation: Dear Sir
PLEASE SEND THE APPEAL IMMEDIATELY:Please voice your support, fax or mail your appeal to the addresses above, and help save humanity from the perils of barbaric atrocities.

Please contact us at for any question and further details.

On behalf of Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM)
Dhiman Deb Chowdhury, President
Dr. Ajit K. Roy, General Secretary

NB: This Urgent Action Appeal has been sent to the UN Secretary General, US State Department, US Ambassador to Bangladesh, Bangladesh Ambassador to the US, Amnesty International, IMF, World Bank, Paris Consortium, International Human Rights Organizations, world leaders and governments all over the world.