Monday, May 19, 2008
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.
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]
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.