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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 Taking part in the discussion Pankaj Bottachariya said that all temporary military camp should be withdrawn from CHT in urgent basis as per CHT Accord.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.

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