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Chittagong Hill Tract Massace

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Anti-militancy rally Nov 12

Source: The Daily Star News

Shamprodaikota, Jongibad Birodhi Mancha (SJBM), a citizens' platform against militancy and communalism, will hold a mass procession and rally in the city on November 12 demanding stern actions against religious extremism.

They also demanded ban on other religious extremist parties like Hizb ut-Tahrir who have been involved in promoting militancy in the country.

The demands came from a press conference at Liberation War Museum in the city.

The speakers at the press conference blamed Jamaat-e-Islami for promoting militant activities in the county saying most of the arrested militants were involved in the politics of Jamaat in the past.

Ajoy Roy, president of Sammilito Samajik Andolan, presided over the press conference. Prof Syed Anwar Hossain of Dhaka University read out a written statement at the press conference.

Scrap decision to conduct CHT land survey

Source: The Daily Star News

Speakers at a dialogue yesterday urged the CHT Land Commission to scrap its decision to conduct a land survey in Chittagong Hill Tracts without resolving the prevailing land disputes.

Conducting land survey before resolving the disputes stands against the spirit of the CHT peace accord and the traditional land ownership system in the hills, they added.

They also demanded amendment to the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001, terming it inconsistent with the CHT peace accord.

They also called for immediate cancellation of lease on lands in the CHT and rehabilitation of Bengali settlers.

The Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD) and Chittagong Hill Tracts Forest and Land Rights Protection Movement organised the dialogue at the ALRD auditorium in the capital.

The speakers also pointed out that the decision to complete the land survey within five months is unrealistic.

They said the administration in the hills arbitrarily taking decisions on the land management. But as per the CHT accord, they were supposed to hand over the responsibility to the district council members and Circle chiefs.

Justice Ghulam Rabbani said the existing land disputes must be settled in line with the CHT accord before any survey.

Dr Abul Barakat presented a study conducted by UNDP. According to the study, about 38 percent of Adivasi households in the Chittagong Hill Tracts were forced to relocate at least once during the period from 1977 to 2007.

About 22 percent of households were forcefully evicted from their homestead at least once during this period, it added.

The research also shows that in 82 percent of cases, the land grabbers were Bangali.

On average, every household in CHT lost at least 115 decimals of land during this period.

Dr Abul Barakat also stressed the need to resolve the land disputes before conducting any survey.

Prof Sadeka Halim, a commissioner of the Land Commission, said the land survey guidelines for the plain land cannot be applied to the hills.

Khushi Kabir, chairperson of ALRD, Samsul Huda, executive director of ALRD, Prof Amena Mohsin, Dr Swapan Adnan, member of CHT Commission, Sudatta Bikash Tanchangya and Mangal Kumar Chakma also spoke.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Garo people celebrate 'Wangala'

Source: The Daily star News

The indigenous Garo people at Madhupur in Tangail yesterday celebrated their largest annual festival Wangala/Onegala, a festival for dedicating crops to the goods.

Thousands of indigenous Garo people of Madhupur Garh region and other guests, including representatives of different NGOs and foreigners, joined the daylong programmes on Pirgachha Cent Paul High School premises at Pirgachha Dharmopalli in Madhupur.

With singing songs and giving wreaths to guests by the student of the school the celebration began.

Prof Mesbah Kamal, Philip Gain, Rakhi Mrong attended the programme among many others as guest.

Babul D Nokrake, Mrigen Hagidak, Monalisa Daru and Graner Nokrake also addressed the function.

After completion of all traditional formalities to dedicate crops to gods, Garo people performed an eye-catching cultural event on the same stage.

They performed their traditional dances, including Gorirua, Grikka, Nanggory, Dellang Mangpina, Amak Balanga Malla, Serenging and Bi Sa Dimdima dances on the stage.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Portrait of Jihad: A documentary by Shahriar Kabir

CEMS at SOAS invites you to the premiere

of

Portrait of Jihad

A documentary by Shahriar Kabir

on the rise of Islamic militancy in Bangladesh and its regional network

The show is followed by an academic discussion on War Crimes 1971 and the impact of the culture of impunity

Monday 2 November 2009, 7pm @ G2 (Lecture Theatre)

SOAS Main Building, University of London

Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

Nearest Tube: Russell Square. http://www.soas.ac.uk/visitors/location/travel/travel-advice.html

Panel members

Lord Avebury

House of Lords; Chair of International Bangladesh Foundation

Dr. Irfan Ahmed Al Alawi

International Director, Centre for Islamic Pluralism

Martin Bright

Presenter of Channel 4’s film - Who Speaks For Muslims? & the author of When Progressives Treat with Reactionaries: The British state's flirtation with radical Islamism

Shahriar Kabir

Bangladeshi journalist, filmmaker, author & human rights activist

Chair

Prof Werner Menski

Chair, CEMS, SOAS



This is a FREE event

Please note that seats are limited and will be offered on a first come first served basis

RSVP: Ms Anna Dugoni (245552@soas.ac.uk)

A seminar on "Bangladesh: Accountability and Human Rights violations" at UK



From Lord Avebury

ph: 020-7274 4617 (UK)

ericavebury@gmail.com

ericavebury.blogspot.com



October 19, 2009


Dear Colleague,

Bangladesh: Accountability and human rights violations

As Chair of the International Bangladesh Foundation I have the pleasure of inviting you to a seminar on Bangladesh: Accountability and human rights violations with Shahriar Kabir, Human Rights Activist, from Bangladesh to be held on Tuesday 3 Nov 2009, 11am-1pm, Committee Room 4A, Houses of Parliament.

Shahriar Kabir, Acting President of International Forum for Secular Bangladesh, will talk about Bangladesh’s failure to bring the perpetrators of gross human rights violation, committed at the very founding of the state, to justice, which has encouraged a culture of impunity and also led to institutionalizing of violence in Bangladesh. We hope you will join us for what promises to be an important and useful discussion.







Monday, October 19, 2009

Hundreds of Aila-hit families in Dakope still under open sky

Picture (Dailystar news): Rendered homeless by cyclone Aila on May 25 this year, people of Kamarkhola village in Dakope upazila under Khulna district are still living miserably in awful makeshift shelters on a road. Photo: STAR

Source: The Daily Star News

Many victims of cyclone Aila-hit unions in Dakope upazila of Khulna district have alleged irregularities and malpractices in distribution of the government fund allocated for reconstruction of their damaged houses.

Over a lakh people of about 35,000 families of Sutarkhali, Kamarkhola, Tildanga and Banishanta unions under Dakope upazila are still staying under the open sky and in makeshift camps at high places as the Aila on May 25 this year rendered them homeless.

"Aila fully damaged 22 kilometres of embankments in these four unions. We hope to start work for reconstructing the damaged embankments by the last week of next month," said engineer Abdur Rob Howlader of Water Development Board.

Nani Gopal Mandol, lawmaker elected from Khulna-1 constituency (Dakope and Batiaghata upazilas) said the government had responded to his request for allocation of fund required to reconstruct the damaged embankments as early as possible.

Meanwhile, there are allegations of corruption and malpractice in distribution of government fund allocated particularly for reconstruction of houses damaged by Aila.

According to the UNO's office, Aila fully damaged 25,167 houses and partly damaged 8,349 houses in nine unions under the upazila.

Each of the affected 7,530 families of Sutarkhali and 3,533 families of Kamarkhola union received Tk 3,000 for reconstruction of their damaged houses while victims of other unions are yet to get it.

There are allegations of irregularities, malpractices and nepotism in distribution of Tk 3 crore 31 lakh and 89,000 allocated by the government for reconstruction of damaged houses of Aila victims.

Many Aila victims did not get money although their houses were fully damaged, said Mahabubur Rahman of Kalabogi village of Sutarkhali union.

"I did not get money for reconstruction of my house fully damaged by Aila as I did not offer a certain amount from Tk 3,000 to the UP chairman as tip," said Khokon Bawali of Satghoria village in Kamarkhola union.

As this correspondent talked separately with the upazila chairman, the UNO and police officials, they said that none of the Aila victims had so far submitted any written complaint against anyone committing such grave offence of misappropriation.

They, however, did not rule out the possibility of such malpractices.

"Sutarkhali union parishad member Abdul Hossain Sana was arrested on October 12 on charge of corruption in distributing fund meant for reconstruction of damaged houses," the UNO said.

Bangladesh: Abducted and gang raped minority housewife fighting for life



Source: Manabzamin.net


A group of armed criminals wearing mask abducted a minority Hindu woman while she was sleeping with her husband and later gang-raped her. The victim is now fighting for her life at the hospital.

Two criminals are now under arrest in this incident.

Police informs the reporter that, on Friday night, a group of six criminals wearing masked burst into the house of Sagar Das cutting through tin shed hedge of his house at Madhupur upazilla.

They attacked and forcefully abducted the housewife (25), mother of two children and gang raped her in a nearby paddy field. Husband of the victim, Sagar Das sustained several stab wounds while trying to save his wife.

According to report, criminals snatched the housewife dragging her through fileds and brought the victim at Taila Kupi open field while gang raped her there.

The victim was found unconsciously lying in the open field and rescued by family members who admitted her at Pabna Sadar Hospital.

Mr. Sagar Das, the husband of the victim filed a case against the perpetrators of crime at Ataikula police station.

Report on the Meeting of the Standing Committee of the CHT Affairs Ministry

Submitted by: PCJSS CHT

On 18 October 2009 at 11.00 a.m. the sixth meeting of the Standing Committee of the Ministry of CHT Affairs (MoCHTA) held at Cabinet Room of the Jatiyo Sangsad in Dhaka presided over by Janab Shah Alam, President of the Committee. Among others the following persons were present in the meeting:

Members of the Standing Committee –

  1. Mr. Dipankar Talukdar, State Minister, MoCHTA
  2. Mr. Bir Bahadur Ushwesingh, MP, Bandarban
  3. Mr.Jatindra Lal Tripura, MP, Khagrachari
  4. Janab (Retd. Captain) Giasuddin Ahmed MP, Mymensingh
  5. Janab K.M. Khalid, MP, Mymensingh
  6. Ms Aethin Rakhain, MP, Women Seat CHT Regional Council
  7. Mr. Goutam Kumar Chakma, Member, CHTRC
  8. Mr. Krishna Chandra Chakma, Executive Officer in Charge, CHTRC Officials
  9. Janab Abul Hossain, Joint secretary, MoCHTA and 2 other officers of MoCHTA
  10. One member from Bandarban Hill district Council
  11. Representatives of Deputy Commissioners of Rangamati, Khagrachari & Bandarban Hill Districts.

Discussion & Decisions

(1) In the meeting the proceeding of the fifth meeting of the committee held in Rangamati on 18/08 2009 was approved, which contained mainly about a decision of cancellation of some hundred plots of lands leased out but were not used within the 10 years and allotment of lands through discussion with the MoCHTA, CHTRC and HDCs. With regard to the decision about allotment of lands, CHTRC member Goutam Kumar Chakma asked to do it as per the CHT Accord after resolution of land disputes and rehabilitation of Tribal refugees and internally Displaced Tribal Families and to add some words about it in the decision. The Committee assured that the allotment would be done as per the decision through discussion with CHTRC & HDCs. So there was nothing to worry about it.

(2) MoCHTA placed a brief report on the development of the implementation of the CHT Accord. The matter of issuing permanent Resident Certificate in CHT was pointed out. J L Tripura asked to exclude Deputy Commissioners (DCs) in issuing this one. But the MoCHTA official Abul Hossain explained the DCs have been doing it as per the CHT Regulatuion, 1900. Goutam Kumar Chakma told that there was no provision in the CHT Regulation for it. Finally, it was decided that CHTRC would place it in writing about it and then recommendation would be provided to MoCHTA for action.

(3) The issue of starting Land Survey as recommended by the Land Commission Chairman was discussed. Goutam Kumar Chakma told that the meetings convened by the Land Commission Chairman were not of the Commission and the Chairman of the CHTRC, who is a member of the Commission could not attend them owing to improper and urgent notices. Goutam Kumar Chakma explained that CHT Land Survey is not a function of the Commission. It has been a Quasi Judicial Body to settle land disputes in CHT only. He further explained that Land Survey in CHT at the moment based on the Bhumi Khatian (CHT) Ordinance, 1984 would mean legalise the plots illegally provided to the settlers in 1980, which would make the land disputes more complicated. The Committee asked CHTRC to place report on it later and based on it decision would be taken by the committee.

(4) Mr. Bir Bahadur MP urged the committee to arrange a conference on the Acts and Rules of CHT for proper orientation of the concerned authorities.

(5) Goutam Kumar Chakma, as instance raised the point of drafting the National Education Policy without consultation of the CHTRC, which might be conflicting with the HDCs Regulations in the coming days. Mr. Giasuddin Ahmed, at it asked Goutam Kumar Chakma to place recommendation, if any to the Committee soon. Goutam Kumar acceded to it and the Committee adopted it.

2 amici curiae appointed for hearing CHT accord rule


Source: The Daily star


The High Court today appointed two lawyers as amici curiae (friend of court) for their expert opinions on a High Court rule regarding the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord.

The HC bench of Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed and Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury appointed Advocate TH Khan and Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud as important constitutional and legal points involved in this matter.

The HC bench fixed October 22 for hearing the rule.

On August 2007, the HC issued the rule upon the government to explain why the execution and implementation of the accord should not be declared unconstitutional and illegal.

The matter today came upon on the cause list for hearing.

On December 2, 1997, the previous Awami League government led by then Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina signed the peace accord with PCJSS leader Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, popularly known as Santu Larma, ending an over two-decade-old insurgency.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Social attitude towards women must change

Source: The Daily Star News

VIOLENCE against women in different forms happens everyday everywhere in the world. But the causes behind the violence vary, depending on which society one is talking about. And in each and every incident of violence against women, in the case of sex-related ones in particular, it is always the male who is taking advantage of the victim's weakness. And the weakness can be both physical and social in origin.

In recent times, we get more reports on such incidents of violence being committed against women day in, day out than in the past. The latest report on the violence against women shows that in the last six months of this year some 1,479 women fell victim to sexual assault by men. That means every day more than eight women get raped in the country. This does not, however, mean that, of late, violence against women has grown in number for some strange reasons. For on average, the figure was still higher at 3,462 in 2008 and at 3,584 in 2007.

Some blame the ubiquitous satellite TV channels screening different kinds of shows including films with violent contents, especially those depicting sexual violence against women, for the worsening state of the social scourge. It is, however, a matter of research to find out if such shows or films have really the potential to increase the number and frequency of such criminal assault on women. That apart, it can be said without doubt that it is due to the media that we are now getting more and more aware of this ever-festering wound every society is suffering from.

In Bangladesh, it is only recently that the level of awareness about this social ill has been rising. For in the past, some cases of violence were not even taken cognisance of, let alone considered as a culpable offence. As a consequence, incidents of domestic violence often went unreported as those enjoyed some kind of immunity from the glare of publicity.

With the enactment of a number of laws against women repression, the cases of domestic violence traceable to various social roots including dowry claims have now come within the ambit of law. Similarly, male violence of sexual type against women has also got adequate coverage in the laws enacted by the successive governments.

But the mere existence of laws to bring the offenders to justice is not the only deterrent against the male-inflicted violence on women. Laws can take its due courses only after the offences are committed against the victim. But the law cannot come into action on its own, unless the victim, her family members or any concerned citizen brings the issue to the notice of law. Even after the issue is brought to court, justice is not immediately established. One has to go through the entire procedure of law before the wrong done to the victim is righted. This is but the accepted mode of delivering justice.

Nonetheless, in our society, the victims of violence, especially women, often shrink away from having recourse to law. Here comes the issue of our society's sensitivity to the violence inflicted on women by men. Unlike open societies with advanced democracy, here the very idea of making the subject of rape or any other kind of aggressive male action against women public involves certain amounts of risk. And it is about the honour of the woman concerned in the public eye. Which is why the acts of sexual violence in particular against women often either go unreported or are hardly brought to court for redress. Only the handful of cases that draw any serious media attention may finally see the light of justice.

But what happens to the lives of those victims of male violence after all the publicity over their dishonour and the legal measures taken die down? The media hardly ever keeps track of that other side of the story, if only because those may not carry much value as news items. The irony is even after the wrong done to a woman victim of rape is redressed and well-compensated for through the due process of law, the subject of the wrong done never recovers from the blow she suffered to her social honour. The woman at a stage becomes a liability to the family and society. The victim, if unmarried, may forever lose the opportunity to be married. And for a married woman, her husband and his family may permanently abandon her.

Here it is the culture and tradition of society that is to blame for the general lack of sensitivity to women victims of violence of every kind. To change the situation, existence of the relevant laws is not enough. The family and social values that dictate our behaviour towards women must undergo transformation before a woman may fight in the court for her honour and rights like her male counterparts. To achieve that end, we would need more than the work of a few urban-based and elitist gender-conscious advocacy groups. In truth, the nature and quality of the politics itself that rule our life has to be transformed lock, stock and barrel.

Bangladesh: 1479 rape cases recorded in 6 months: Women repression unabated despite stringent law

Source: The Daily Star


Despite prevailing stringent laws in the country to protect women, violence in different forms against women still goes on unabated with offenders cocking a snook at the laws of the state.
Repression on women have increased manifold over the last few months. The brutality is inflicted on them mainly for dowry, disputes over wedding and land, said women activists working to promote and ensure women's rights in the country.


At least 1,479 women had been raped in six months beginning from January of 2009 while a total of 395 rape incidences, the highest number recorded, were committed in Dhaka Range followed by 390 in Rajshah and the lowest two in Railway Range, said Home Minister Sahara Khatun at a parliament session on October 12.

She also added that at least 3,462 women in 2008 and 3,584 in 2007 were violated.
On September 25, an adolescent was gang-raped following her abduction by 10 Bangladesh Chhatra League activists while she was returning from a Puja Mandop in Kolapar upazila in Patuakhali district.

Four police constables raped a woman from ethnic minority community on 28 February 2009 in Khagrachhari while an Indian BSF violated a Bangladeshi woman and killed her husband in Satkhira in last April.

Advocate Salma Ali, executive director of Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association (BNWLA), told The Daily Star, “There are a number of laws including Dowry Prohibition Act, Prevention of Women and Child Repression Act (2000) which provides for effective and efficient way of dealing with cases of violence against women such as rape, acid attacks, forced prostitution and trafficking.”

The other acts include Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act 1933, Family Court Ordinance, Cruelty to Women (Deterrent Punishment) Ordinance and Trafficking in Women and Children Act 1993.

“Without proper implementation of the laws, it is really tough to stop violence against women that has become part and parcel of our male partners' behaviour,” said the advocate who runs shelter home for the repressed women, children and aged people.
Shamima Akhter (24) with her six-month-old daughter was looking for an official at the Nari Nirjatan Protirodh Cell of Women and Children Affairs Department to get legal support for her daughter's paternal right.

She narrated the sorry tale of her conjugal life. “Within four months of our marriage, my husband Mozammel Haque alias Khokan started to torture me. And finally while I was six-month pregnant, he walked out on me as my poor parents failed to give him the dowry of Tk 30,000.”

Hailed from city's Lalbagh area, Shamima now visits Nari Nirjatan Protirodh Cell at Eskaton Garden at least four days a week with her daughter. She said, “I have come here on foot. I started at 7:00am and have reached here at 11:00am for the hearing.”
Like Shamima, at least 20 others who are victims of violence visit the Nari Nirjatan Protirodh Cell each day, said sources at the department. “We also receive some foreign women victims who got married to Bangladeshi men,” said a record keeper officer of the cell who mainly files up complaints.

As per case histories most of the victims filed cases against their husbands, or mother in laws for physical torture for dowry.
Meanwhile, the human rights-based organisation Odhikar reported that at least 338 women including 158 girls were raped in nine months beginning from January of 2009. Sixty-eight women and 51 girls were gang-raped, 50 women and 22 children were killed after rape during this period.

A total of 247 women were subjected to dowry-related violence. One hundred seventy-six of them died due to the violence and 64 of them were tortured in various ways. Seven of these women allegedly committed suicide, as they couldn't bear the brunt of torture, Odhikar statistics stated.

At least 27 women fell victim to illegal fatwa while 45 women and 12 girls became the victims of acid throwing, it said.

Women and human rights activist, Ayesha Khanam, who works in the area for three decades, told The Daily Star yesterday, “We are concerned about the realities of women who are the worst victim of violence. Doctor or post-graduate females are also now victims of torture and killed by their in-laws' families.”

She said the recent victims, a doctor and a student of Dhaka University, could be the wake-up calls to launch movement against domestic violence.
“We have submitted letters to home, women and children affairs ministries and prime minister to take steps in this regard,” she said.


Unholy things under holy mask

Source: Modern Ghana.com

A group of ruling party men has set a very nasty example of 'unholy' task under the garb of holy reason.


According to Bangladeshi press, Uttara Hindu Kalyan Sangha [Uttara Hindu Welfare Society] ook permission to use a piece of land measuring one hecter [3 acres] from Bangladesh government for a week for setting a temporary Puja [Hindu worship] pandel in Dhaka. Considering the divine reason, Bangladeshi government granted permission to use the land for using the land for seven days, during the just concluded Durga Puja [largest religious festival of Hindus].

Durga Puja [Worship of Durga'], also referred as Durgotsab [Festival of Durga] is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates worship of Hindu goddess Durga. Durga Puja is widely celebrated in West Bengal, Assam , Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Tripura where it is a five-day annual holiday. Not only it is the biggest Hindu festival celebrated throughout the State, but also the most significant socio-cultural event in Bengali society.

Subsequently a temporary pandel was set on the land. But, the organizers, at the end of the festival, instead of vacating the land are and immersing the Durga deity are continuing to keep the deities on the spot, with an ulterior motive of grabbing the piece of land. According to Hindu rituals, Durga deities are accorded farewell and immersed in a nearby river or lake.

Sensing the immoral attitude of the Hindu leaders who took the permission for setting the pandel, members of law enforcing agencies are already deployed on the spot and a criminal case has been lodged against the leaders of Uttara Hindu Kalyan Sangha [Uttara Hindu Welfare Society] most of whom are ruling party activists and leaders.

On the other side, a leader of Uttara Hindu Kalyan Sangha, Engineer Chandra Mohan Paul told reporters that the questioned land was not occupied illegally. He claimed that, they already have sought court injuction on the land, which stops Bangladesh government from removing the temporary pandel from the spot.

Meanwhile, it is learnt from the office of Bangladesh government that the leaders of Uttara Hindu Kalyan Sangha [Uttara Hindu Welfare Society] submitted an application with Rajdhani Unnayan Karitpakkha [Capital City Development Authorities] on August23 2009 with recommendation from Home Minister Advocate Sahara Khatun for using the aforesaid land for 10 days. The permission was granted with two specific conditions, which are:

1. Organizers wont allow any commercial establishments on the land during the period of using it,

2. They will vacate the land by September 29, 2009 and remove all materials of the temporary pandel from the spot.

On end of the Durga Puja, the leaders of Uttara Hindu Welfare Society, started constructing a temple on the land without any lawful rights. When Rajdhani Unnayan Karipakkha [Capital City Development Authorities] rushed on the spot and intervened, some influential Hindu leaders made phone calls to the Prime Minister's office claiming, a Hindu Temple was attacked. Subsequently, police were deployed on the spot.

It is alleged by Rajdhani Unnayan Karipakkha that, some leaders of the ruling party are behind the entire episode of grabbing the land in the name of Hindu temple. They said, subsequently commercial establishments will be set alongside the temple, if they will finally succeed in grabbing the land and those leaders will cash huge amount of money from this place.

While everyone in the world are always in favor of protecting minority rights, it is also equally expected from the religious minorities in the world that they won't use religious sentiment in covering any form of illegal activities, as some of the Hindu leaders in Dhaka [Bangladesh] have committed in the mentioned case.

It is also important to mention here that, although we have found just one example of grabbing land in the name of setting Puja Pandel, in Bangladesh alone, acres of land are grabbed by some crooks in the name of establishing mosques, shrines, temples etc for years. Especially the trend of grabbing property by establishing a mosque is a very common phenomenon in Bangladesh. There are at least hundreds if not thousands of cases of grabbing government property by setting a mosque right within the capital city in Bangladesh. And not to mention about the other cities and towns in the country.

Friday, October 16, 2009

1 person killed and another allegedly injured by UPDF

Source: PCJSS CHT

Bimalananda Chakma reportedly killed by UPDF

Reliable sources confirmed that returnee PCJSS member Mr. Bimalananda Chakma was reportedly killed by the UPDF. Sources informed that the UPDF leaders asked the relatives of victim who went to contact to the UPDF leaders to make performing of funeral ceremony for Bimalananda Chakma. So, family members of Bimalananda Chakma gave up any hope of alive of Bimalananda Chakma.

It is mentionable that on 2 October 2009 UPDF armed cadres kidnapped Mr. Bimalananda Chakma (62) s/o Mereiya Chakma, a member of PCJSS, who came to normal life as per CHT Accord in 1997, from his home at Kerongchari village under Kengrachari union of Bilaichari upazila in Rangamati district at gunpoint.


Innocent Marma student injured by UPDF cadres in Khagrachari


On 14 October 2009 UPDF cadres brutally beat an innocent student named Chaihla Marma (20) who also works at a garage in Khagrachari for earning.

It is learnt that on that day UPDF was observing road blockade programme in Khagrachari. During the road blockade, Chaihla Marma was caught when he was going to home by bye-cycle and then he was brutally beaten by the UPDF picketers. Chaihla Marma sustained injuries on head. He was first admitted at Khagrachari sadar hospital and then referred to Chittagong Medical College hospital with serious condition. Marma community brought out procession protesting against the brutal beating of innocent student.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Implement HR obligations

Human Rights ambassadors urge govt

Source: The Daily Star News


Human Rights Ambassadors Arjan Hamburger of the Netherlands, Günter Nooke of Germany and Arnold de Fine Skibsted of Denmark urged the Bangladesh authorities to further implement their international and domestic obligations in the field of human rights.

The Ambassador who visited Bangladesh from October 11 to 15 appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her clear commitment to zero tolerance policy with respect to human rights violations.

The EU Ambassadors visited Bangladesh to receive firsthand information on the developments of human rights in its broadest sense in the country, taking into account the return to democracy after the free and fair elections in December 2008.

A release of the Dutch Embassy here yesterday said the Ambassadors had frank and cordial meetings with the prime minister and a number of other ministers, representatives of the opposition, Election Commissioners, chairman of National Human Rights Commission, Director Generals of BDR and Rab, Additional IGP as well as a good number of Civil Society Organisations.

On Tuesday, the Ambassadors visited the Rohingya refugee camp at Kutupalong, Cox's Bazar and discussed refugee related issues with local authorities and NGO's. The delegation was extensively briefed by the UNHCR on their interventions benefiting the refugee population.

The delegation was briefed on the progress made on the implementation of the CHT Peace Accord by relevant authorities and the CHT Commission. The Human Rights Ambassadors were encouraged by government's commitments to a zero-tolerance stance on extra judicial killings, torture and custodial death.

They welcomed commitment to the implementation by relevant authorities of the recommendations made during the Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council early 2009.

The Human Rights Ambassadors also discussed socio and economic human rights while acknowledging the development challenges of Bangladesh.

The need to strengthen independent institutions whose mandate is to further the respect for human rights such as the National Human Rights Commission, Right to Information Commission and the Anti Corruption Commission was mentioned as well as expanding assistance to Bangladesh in this domain.

The delegation had extensive discussions on issues relating to the advancement of women in Bangladesh society and the affirmative action needed to curb violence against women.

The Ambassadors thanked the prime minister and all other interlocutors for the open and frank discussions that had enhanced their knowledge.

Bangladesh: Indigenous minority "Tripura" school going girl abused by settler Bengali in Matiranga

Submitted by Kapaeeng Foundation

On 15 October 2009 at 11.00 am, a school going girl named Jasho Bala Tripura (17), d/o Dugal Tripura of village Arbari of Bailyachari area under Guimara union of Matiranga upazila (sub-district) in Khagrachari was molested by a Bengali settler Md. Hossen s/o Jasmat Ali of village Rasulpur under Matiranga in Khagrachari district while she was going to school. She is a Secondary School Certificate (S.S.C) candidate from Matiranga Pilot High School. It is also learnt that, settlers leader whipped the culprit Md. Hossen and beg apology to Jumma leaders including Guimara Union Parishad councilor Renu Bala Tripura.
Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Guimara Thana, Sub-Inspector Mr. Badiuzzaman visited the spot afternoon but nobody has come to complain him.Due to governments sponsored settler’s rehabilitation in CHT region Indigenous Jumma women were not secured in their own territory. Sociological and cultural disparity occurs; women were more vulnerable, molested, raped and killed everywhere nowadays even after signing the CHT Accord.Reported by LARA.

Bangladesh: Meeting of the Task Force held in Khagrachari, CHT

Submitted by PCJSS

On 5 October 2009 meeting of the Task Force on Rehabilitation of Returnee Jumma Refugees and Internally Displace Persons was held at Khagrachari circuit house.Presided over by Chairman of Task Force Mr. Jatindra Lal Tripura, MP from Khagrachari constituency, the meeting was attended by following members of the Task Force-
  1. Mr. Ruithy Karbari, Chairman of Khagrachari Hill District Council
  2. Mr. Aung Prue Mro, Representative of the Chairman of Bandarban Hill District Council
  3. Mr. Brishaketu Chakma, Representative of the Chairman of Rangamati Hill District Council
  4. Mr. Santoshita Chakma Bakul, Representative of Jumma returnee refugees
  5. Major Lokman, Representative of GOC of 24th Infantry Division, Chittagong Cantonment
  6. Mr. N A N Siddique, Member-Secretary of Task Force and Commissioner of Chittagong division
  7. Mr. S M Shafi, Member of Task Force and Representative of Bengali community.
Due to unavoidable reason, representative of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) was absent. No representative from CHT Affairs Ministry attended the meeting. Concerned government officials including Deputy Commissioner of Khagrachari district and ADC of Rangamati and Bandarban district were also present in the meeting.This meeting was an initial meeting of the newly reconstituted Task Force. There was no specific agenda item of the meeting for discussion. However, the agenda items of next meeting of the Task Force were decided. The agenda items were (1) to determine the process of identification and inclusion of actual internal displaced families; (2) 20-points package facilities; (3) holding of Task Force monthly meeting; (4) field level visit and staffing and funding of the Task Force.As per decision to hold meeting of Task Force monthly, the next meeting is scheduled to hold in the month of November 2009.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wakeup call to Bangladeshi ministers

Source: Weekly Blitz Editorial

According to a commentary titled ‘Sleeping ministers, rapes and atrocities in Bangladesh’ published in Weekly Blitz on October 7, 2009, although nine months have already passed since Awami League led ‘Grand Alliance’ government [a combination of leftists and Islamists] came in power through a questioned landslide victory, according to Dhaka’s popular vernacular tabloid daily Manabzamin, twenty ministers and junior ministers in the cabinet are seen very much inactive. Two of the ministers of the present government are mostly spending time at home or hospital as they have several physical complications, while some of them do not attend their office even five hours a week. Ministries are forced to send files at their homes for signature. According to Manabzamin, there is no reflection of the Electoral Manifesto of Bangladesh Awami League in its administration. There are 52 member cabinet in Bangladesh consisting ministers, junior ministers and advisors. The newspaper said, there is ‘tug of war’ between ministers and secretaries in a number of ministries in Bangladesh, as those ministers are trying to turn these government offices into mere center of party sycophants and touts. There is also a very strange news about corruption in the Agriculture Ministry, which is headed by veteran politician Matia Chowdhury, who enjoyed a very clean image in Bangladeshi politics. According to the report, Agricultural affairs minister Matia Chowdhury, who enjoys high esteem of being the most honest politician in Bangladesh is earning wrath of Awami League activists as she rejects all forms of requests from party touts. But now a days, there are even allegations of irregularities against Mrs. Chowdhury. She is alleged of issuing license for dealing in fertilizer only to Awami League cadres. And, there is another news of corruption by very controversial minister Faruq Khan. According to the news, Commerce minister Lieutenant Colonel [Retired] Faruq Khan has already earned the bad reputation of being the most talketive minister in Bangladesh. Although there are rumors that the commerce minister does not pay any heed to any type of persuation from the party cadres, it is proved that several relatives of him are active in lobbying and they are known to be the ‘channels’ in reaching the minister in getting any issue settled and done. Faruq Khan is already alleged of according a huge business contract of edible oil and sugar to a non-existent Swedish company.
Quoting a local vernacular daily, it was also mentioned in the commentary that, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s son, Sajib Wajed Joy is working as her ‘undeclared advisor’ since the present government came in power. Bangladeshi embassy in Washington later in a press release said that, Sajib Wajed Joy is the advisor of his ‘mother’ and not the ‘Prime Minister’.
In 1996, when Awami League came in power, Joy, who lives in United States committes series of irregularities by proclaiming to be the advisor to his mother. It was even reported in a English language periodical in Bangladesh that Sajib Wajed Joy became owner of huge properties in United States during the tenure of his mother [1996-2001].
In this case, certainly a valid question will come. If the son is the advisor to his mother, then, why such issues should reach the press? Why Bangladeshi embassy in Washington mentioned Joy as the ‘advisor to Prime Minister’ and later changed it with ‘advisor to his mother’?
Being a mother, Sheikh Hasina, surely can seek suggestions and advice from her son on various matter, where she fails to understand anything. But, was it necessary at all to let this matter be publicized?
In the same commentary, there was another extremely disturbing information. Quoting a Bangla daily, in the commentary, it was mentioned that 338 women and children were raped during past nine months in various parts of Bangladesh while 50 women and 22 minor girls were murdered after rape.
On September 25, 2009, 10 activists of Bangladesh Awami League raped a young girl, on her return from a Hindu temple at Kolapara upazila [sub-district] under Patuakhali district at the Southern part of Bangladesh. Later, an influential ruling party leader of the sub-dustrict, forced the family members of the raped girl to sign in blank papers to stop them from lodging any complaint with police. None of the perpetrators were ever arrested since the brutal rape of the Hindu girl.
At Pirojpur district [Southern part of Bangladesh], Ahsan Kabir Mamun, information secretary of the district committee of the student wing of Bangladesh Awami League abducted a school girl and videographed while raping her with the help of his friends. It may be mentioned here that, while Awami League was in power in 1996, a leader of its student’s wing arranged a grand party at Jahangir Nagar University to celebrate the completion of his ‘raping 100 female students’. Later, instead of punishing this perpetrator, Awami League awarded him with a job at National University. Since Awami League came in power in 2009, such rapes have again started in various university campuses and residential halls in Bangladesh.
All are terribly disturbing information! Should the ministers in the present government wake up from their sleep before everything is too late? Should the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina finetune some of the actions and activities of her party? Should she also stop listening to sycophants?
Leaders of the ruling party and those ministers are very confident to believe that, they will be in power at least till 2021 as they have very successfully tamed the major opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party already. Visibly there is no political opponent of the ruling party in Bangladesh now. The parliament is also under the absolute control of the ruling party. Opposition is continuing to boycott the parliament. Alarmingly, Bangladesh is gradually heading towards ‘Democratic Autocracy’ or may be even worst, which is named in many nations as ‘Family Dynasty’.
Problem with Bangladeshi politicians is, they never take lesson from the past. Awami League too surely has forgotten their divastating defeat in the General Election in 2001. They were virtually rejected by the voters in Bangladesh for several wrong actions. And unfortunately, the same party, which won a massive victory during General Election in December 2008 is repeating the same old blunders.

Muslim Men Pretending to Be Hindu to Lure Hindu Girls Into Marriage

Source: AINA

Joypurhat, Bangladesh (AINA) -- Muslim men are pretending to be Hindus to lure Hindu girls into marriage, then force them to accept Islam once they are married, according to Nripendra Nath Mondal, president of BHBC Unity Council of Joypurhat.
The practice of fraudulent conversion by Muslims impersonating Hindus has increased dramatically in Joypurhat. A sense of insecurity prevails in the Hindu communities. Local authorities have failed to give adequate protection to victims and their families.
In one example, Ms. Purnima Rani, daughter of Dulal Roy of Joypurhat, went missing after receing a fraudulent marriage offer with a "Hindu" boy. The Muslim perpetrator is a relative of a very powerful Juba League Leader of Joypurhat. Ms. Purnima Rani could not be recovered despite desperate several arbitration attempts with the powerful Awami League Leaders. The police also neglect to bring charges case against the perpetrators. In Ms. Rani's case charges were brought after great pressure was applied, but the perpetrator started harassing the victim's family.
Ms. Nabami Sarkar of Aimar Rasulpur village, Ms. Mina Debnath of Shaljune village, as well as Ms. Krishna Rani and Ms. Prativa Rani of Govindapur, were also targets of the scam.
The police have shown no interest in pursuing these cases. Hindu leaders have said the police are deliberately ignoring the issue because of pressure from political leaders.

Fresh news of minority persecution in Bangladesh

Source: American Chronicle

Abduction of a Christian girl: Silvia Sarker [Merry], aged about 12 and a student of 8th grade was abducted on July 30, 2009 on her way to home from school in Barisal district [southern part of Bangladesh] by a group of armed youths. Silvia Sarker is a student of local Sreemati Matrimongal Girls High School.

A group of culprits named Al-Amin Faria [24], Shamim Faria [22], Shahadat Faria [20] amd Sattar Faria [50] of the locality abducted Silvia Sarker at around 1:00 pm from a place which is two kilometer away from the local police station. A first information report [formal case] was lodged on August 2, 2009 by Julian Sarker, father of the Christian school girl, under section 7/30 of the Women and Children Repression Act. Case number 3.

In the first information report (FIR), it was alleged that the victim was abducted for forceful conversion to Islam and was forced to marry a Muslim boy. She was subsequently raped by her abducter. Local newspapers carried news of this abduction. Police failed to rescue the girl from the captivity of the abducters.Though police arrested two of the accuseds, but they later were released on bail from the court and started giving threats of dire consequence to family members of the abducted girl.

Attack on Hindu temple: A group of influential locals under the leadership of one Ibrahim attacked ´Lord Shiva Temple´ at Dhamrai sub-district, under Dhaka district of October 8, 2009. Attackers demolished deities, looted valuables and injured 10 Hindus including the priest of the temple. Subsequently a case was lodged with the local police station by the priest Mongal Chandra Mondal [a local Hindu], but police did not arrest any of the attackers for reason unknown.

Forceful conversion of a Hindu girl: The Trend of fraudulent conversion by Muslims personifying Hindu adolescent girls increased abnormally at Joypurhat [northern part of the country] in Bangladesh. In those areas, a sense of insecurity prevails amongst the Hindu communities due to such unabated trend. The local administration also failed to provide adequate protection to victim families of Hindu communities.Purnima Rani – daughter of Dulal Roy of Chitra Para-Joypurhat town was missing for weeks. She was not rescued by police as her abducters were patronized by local leaders of the ruling party. In this area, police regularly deny to register complaints of abduction and forceful conversion.

Another Hindu girl named Nabami Sarkar – daughter of Akhil Sarkar as well Krishna Rani, Mina Debnath, Shikha Debnath and Prativa Rani [all Hindu girls] were forcefully abducted for conversion into Islam by influential locals. At the frantic bid of the human rights and minority rights groups, local police rescued Purnima Roy daughter of Dulal Roy on October 9, 2009 and produced her before the court. The court sent her to judicial custody.In another incident, a Hindu girl named Krishna was abducted by a Muslim boy and later was raped in captivity. Local finally were able to rescue the girl in a critical condition. Though a case was lodged, there was no action by the police against the perpetrators.

It is alleged that, local politicians belonging to the ruling party are putting pressure on police in remaining silent on such cases of abduction and conversion, as many Muslims consider conversions as a ´Holy task´.Most of the Hindu parents of girl children are in serious fear, as such abduction and forceful conversion may happen with their girls any moment.Trend of forceful conversion of religious minorities to Islam is increasing in Bangladesh especially after the increase of activities of Tablighi jamaat as well as provocative sermons by Muslim clergies in the mosques.

These clergies and Tablighis offer heaven for the person and his parents and fore-parents for a successful conversion of a religious minority girl or boy into Islam. According to Bangladesh law, abduction and forceful conversion is a criminal offense. But, none were ever convicted by any courts of law in the country for forcefully converting any minority girl into Islam. In most cases, the abducted girls are converted into Islam and subsquently married to a Muslim boy. Before trial starts, these abducted girls mostly become pregnant. So, they fail to speak out against such crime, fearing finally being abandoned both by her ´husband´ as well members of her family and community.

Several females, who were victims of such notoriety finally ended up in local brothels, being totally abandoned by everyone.Establishment of a rehabilitation center for such minority girls, who are abducted, violated and finally rescued but abandoned by the families and societies should be established in Bangladesh for the greater cause of humanity. On the other hand, Bangladeshi government should also introduce strict law for the incidents of attack on religious temples or worship places by any citizen of the country

A minority Hindu girl abducted at Patuakhali, Bangladesh

Victims family is under threat from Criminals

Source: The daily “Janakantha” dated 11th October, 2009.

Serious tension prevailing at Patuakhali town in Bangladesh where a minority Hindu girl was kidnapped by a group of criminals on 30th September,09 with active collusion of Neseruddin ( Babu )(20) son of Chan Meah Behari and Rana a.k.a. Zamal Rana (22). Despite lodging a GD at the local police station, victim’s father is absconding for life while criminals roam freely.
Local police is also reluctant to protect family members and the father of the victim partly because of criminals influence in the influential circle of the locality.
According to the report, Victim was kidnapped on the evening of 30th September at around 8PM when she went to purchase candle from a nearby store. Allegedly, the aforementioned perpetrators noted above with the active instigation of Sohag abducted the minor girl- Anamika Saha and fled away. Netai Chandra Saha –father of the victim lodged F.I.R. at Patuakhali Sadar Police station against those perpetrators under section 7/30 of Nari-O-Shishu Nirjatan Ain, 2002. A case being Patuakhali P.S. case number 4(10)2009 was registered.

Netai Chandra Saha lamented getting back his daughter from criminals family who is acting as legal guardian of the perpetrators –but those legal guardians, although committed to return back his daughter but neglected. As soon as the case was started the legal guardian and the perpetrators threatened Netai Chandra Saha and they became more furious informing him that they would not return their daughter forever.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bangladesh: Hindu Temple attacked, desecrated and ransacked

Muslim Perpetrators attacked Hindu Temple, desecrated and demolished deities, looted belongings, injured 10 at Dhamrai

(The Daily Samakal dated 9th October, 2009):

Dhaka on 8th October, 2009: The powerful perpetrators attacked "Shiva Kali Mandir" situated at village ?Sombag within Dhamrai Upazila of Dhaka District on 8th October, 2009 at noon. They also demolished the deities, looted valuables, desecrated them and injured 10 persons including Pujari of the temple.
Mongal Chandra Mondal being informant of the case lodged F.I.R. at Dhamrai Police station on the same day. Police could not arrest any persons responsible for the heinous crime.
It is also learnt from the police and the local people that seven decimals of land in the name of the ?Shiva KaliTemple? existed there. Some worshippers started renovation of the temple on the advice of Mongal Chandra Mondal on 8th October, 2009. As soon as the pujaris started renovation works on the temple some perpetrators under the leadership of Ibrahim attacked them and broken the lock of the temple, demolished the deities ?Shiva Murthi. Instantly the Pujari ?Mongal Chandra came forward for their protection and the perpetrators also attacked him injuring seriously. The executives of the Temple committee came forward for safety of Mongal Chandra but unfortunately they have also been attacked indiscriminately.
I had communicated with the local administration at Dhamrai over phone and they informed me that the situation will be controlled. The perpetrators will be brought to book as per law.

Human rights groups urge Land Commission to cancel CHT land survey decision

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

On 7 October 2009 at a press conference held at Reporters’ Unity auditorium in Dhaka, human rights groups urged the Land Commission to scrap its decision to conduct a land survey in CHT before resolving the land disputes। They made the demand following the announcement of the CHT Land Commission on September 8 to start a land survey from October 15 which will end on March 15 of next year।The press conference titled 'Importance of resolving land dispute and land survey in CHT ' was organised jointly by the Association for Land Reform and Development Commission (ALRD), Ain O Salish Kendro, HDRC, Nijera Kori, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Kapaeeng Foundation and Khagrachari Headmen Association. The press statement was signed by Rtd justice Md. Golam Rabbani, Ms. Sultana Kamal of Ain O Salish Kendro, Ms. Khushi Kabir of Nijera Kori, Prof. Abul Barakat of Dhaka University, Mr. Samshul Huda of ALRD, Mr. Sanjeeb Drong of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Mr. Shakti Pada Tripura of Khagrachari Headmen Association, Mr. Sudatta Bikash Tanchangya of CHT Forest and Land Rights Movement and Mr. Dipayan Khisa of Kapaeeng Foundation.Rights groups said in the written statement that the decision to conduct land survey in the CHT before resolving the disputes over the ownership of lands would only intensify the complexities. He added that the announcement of starting land survey before resolving the disputes over the ownership stands against the spirit of CHT Accord and the election manifesto of the government. He also raised question about the experience of the officials of the Directorate of Land Record and Survey to conduct land survey in CHT and said the decision to complete the land survey in CHT within five months is nothing but an imaginary plan.They made following demands for total disputed land in CHT and strengthening the Land Commission-(1) to stop any initiative of land survey in three hill districts of CHT;(2) to amend the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Acr 2001 as per recommendation during the current session of the Jatiya Sangsad on urgent basis;(3) to identify land disputes of different places of CHT and to initiate for formulation of databse on this regard;(4) to start land dispute sesolution in consultation with CHT Regional Council, Circle Chiefs, CHT Affairs Ministry and other concerned leaders of indigenous peoples as per CHT Accord;(5) to appoint necessary officers and employees including secretary of Land Commission immediately in order to setting up of its office as per CHT Accord;(6) to strengthen Land Commission as independent commission in accordance with democratic norms to ensure that it could not be turned a rubber of any person;(7) to allot adequate fund for strengthening and making office of the Land Commission effective.The statement of the rights group was read out by Samshul Huda, Executive Dircetor of ALRD while former Justice Golam Rabbani and Bangladesh Adivasi Forum General Secretary Sanjib Drong were present at the press conference.

Bangladesh: Cancel land survey before resolving disputes in CHT

Adivasi Odhikar Andolon urges govt

Source: The DailyStar

Speakers at a press conference yesterday demanded cancellation of land survey in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) before resolving the land disputes in the hilly areas.
“The resolution of land disputes is more important than conducting the land survey. The survey activities before resolving the land disputes will intensify the complexity in CHT,” they added.
The press conference on 'Cancellation of land survey and resolving the land disputes on the basis of CHT Peace Accord' was organised by Bangladesh Adivasi Odhikar Andolon at the Dhaka Reporters' Unity.
In a written statement, Prof Mesbah Kamal, general secretary of the organisation, termed the government initiative for land survey a threat to land rights of the indigenous people.
“According to the CHT Peace Accord 1997, the government will resolve the land dispute first, and then it will take necessary initiative for land survey after discussion with the CHT Regional Council. But the CHT Land Commission Chairman Khademul Islam Chowdhury has announced to launch the land survey there without any discussion with others,” he said.
Prof Kamal also asserted that it is impossible to complete the land survey in CHT within five months (from October 15, 2009 to March 15, 2010 as announced by the commission).
Lauding the government for withdrawal of temporary army camps from the CHT, he said, “The government is pledge-bound to implement CHT Peace Accord 1997. These are some positive signs for full implementation of the accord.”
He also placed some demands that included amendment to CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001, identification of land dispute in different places in CHT and formation of a database in this regard, initiative to resolve land dispute after discussion with the CHT Regional Council, District Council, circle chief and the ministries concerned and allocation of adequate money for strengthening the commission
“In a democratic country no one can do anything beyond the constitution. Similarly any activities in the CHT should be run on the basis of CHT Peace Accord 1997. But the initiative of land survey before resolution of land dispute goes against peace accord,” said former Justice Golam Rabbani.
He urged the government to put emphasis on resolving the land disputes first and then conducting the survey.
Prof H K S Arefin, president of the organisation, Sanjib Drong, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, were present at the press conference.

Bangladesh: Rape is inevitable if not punished

Source: The DailyStar
By: Ripan Kumar Biswas

We will not mind if Oscar-winning filmmaker Roman Polanski is tried per the same law that applies to anyone who commits such a crime, because letting this kind of crime go unpunished is not only a miscarriage of justice but also a slap to humanity. Polanski, 76, who drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl in California in 1977, was arrested on September 26, 2009 on a U.S. warrant by authorities in Switzerland.
Rape or sexual torture is not just a heinous criminal act but a morally despicable one too. Sexual abuse is a serious world problem and a crime against the community, not only against the victim herself. Rapes happen across the social strata in Bangladesh. They are never reported unless the news becomes public. In recent times, almost every newspaper in Bangladesh covered a series of rapes across the country.
A teenage girl was kidnapped by a gang of young men at Uttar Goalia village under Thakurgaon district, on September 26, 2009. A schoolgirl of class 3 was raped at Ramanandapur village in Pabna Sadar upazila on Friday, October 2, while rapists didn't spare a ten-year old schoolgirl's life after fulfilling their heinous act at Nayapara village in Dhubaura upazila, Mymenshingh on Thursday, October 1. A leader of the student wing of the present ruling government was one step ahead as his raping video hit the market. Ahsan Kabir Mamun, a leader of Pirojpur district unit Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) lured a class 10 student to a love trap, raped her, recorded it in mobile, and then marketed it.
The above reports, in addition, include a gang rape conducted by a group of BCL activists. They kidnapped a school girl of class 7 of Pakhimara in Kalapara upazila, Patuakhali, on September 25, and raped her until at around 2:00 am. This report, however, ended with more rotten news. The group was able to get rid of this allegation with a fine of Tk.10,000 each and managed to ensure their escape by local Awami League leaders. They even forced the victim's family to rebut the rape report in a press conference organised by them. The victim's family was also forced to file a defamation case against the local reporters who focused on the rape news.
The victim or victim's family go into hiding every time that police or law enforcement agencies remain inactive against the rapists, amidst reprisal from the perpetrators, when instead, the rapists should be punished and not let off. But very often, we find that the legal system in Bangladesh apparently is lenient with rapist, paedophiles, and exhibitionists -- the sex offenders who put fear into the public and pose a threat to residents in their neighbourhoods and communities.
It is only the rape victim who has no chance of justice. In a cruel way, this often forces the rape victim to accept rape as an unfortunate occasional occurrence within all families, and she herself may acquiesce in hushing up another rape tomorrow.
The law enforcement agencies, even when they get to know of a rape, or even when a rape victim approaches them, almost always discourage the family from filing a complaint. Often they are threatened, if the alleged rapist is someone in a powerful position or a political activist. At other times, the police remind the victim's family of the social repercussions and attention (and permanent social humiliation, no marriages for anyone else in the family etc. etc.) and the victim returns home to wash away all evidence of the crime.
Rape is a devastating crime. Some women are badly injured. Some become pregnant. Some contract HIV. But the emotional trauma can be worse than any physical injury. Women who are raped have nightmares, panic attacks, waves of self-doubt, and/or an overwhelming sense of distrust. The lives of women who are raped are forever changed. Some say they will never be the same, and that it's like dying.
683,000 forcible rapes occur every year in the world, which equals 56,916 per month, 1,871 per day, 78 per hour, and 1.3 per minute. According to the Dhaka-based human rights monitoring group Odhikar, a total of 44 women and girls were raped between August 1 and 31 in the country. Among them, 16 were women and 17 were children, aged below sixteen. Out of 16 women, 3 were reportedly killed after rape, 5 were victims of gang-rape, while out of the 17 girls, 2 were reportedly killed after rape, and 5 were victims of gang-rape. In May, 33 women and girls fell victim to rape. From January to March 2009, 73 women and children were the victims of rape or attempted rape.
In 1993, the United Nations passed a resolution placing rape, for the first time, within the framework of war crimes. Furthermore, the U.N. General Assembly established that rape, under certain circumstances, could also constitute genocide. The International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague reinforced this with a ruling in 2001, stating that rape of civilians is a crime against humanity. Rape is mentioned only once in Bangladesh's International Crimes (Tribunals) Act of 1973, and is identified only as a crime against humanity. It has been alleged that an estimated 200,000 women were raped during the Bangladesh Liberation War by the Pakistani army.
The law in Bangladesh prohibits rape and physical abuse. The Women and Children Repression Prevention Act of 2000 ensures stringent punishment, up to death, for rape-related crimes. Women leaders, human rights activists, lawyers and civil society members have no problem with the law. But given the cultural pressures, the sense of shame, the fear and the slow, bullock-cart pace of justice in the country, and direct influence by political leaders, many rape incidents go unreported for various reasons. A rape victim becomes unwarranted in society if the incident is made public. There are some people who even blame the victim, not the rapist, for the offence. Many victims commit suicide out of shame after being raped.
Sexual violence is impacting the next generation. Violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of the objectives of democracy, development, and peace in any country. Despite having women politicians and women in leadership positions in the country, violence against women, unfortunately, continues to be part of daily life.
If the government is really serious about curbing this kind of violence against women and girls, the punishment for such crimes must be harsh, leaving any kind of consideration aside. If a rapist gets away scot-free, or gets away with minor punishment, then that means rape is a viable sexual strategy for a large number of men. Rape is inevitable if we don't punish it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bangladesh: Chittagong Hill Tract Commission Report

Source: PCJSS

Note: The report is from the CHT Commission third mission to Bangladesh on August 10-18, 2009. The report also follows up on the issues and recommendations raised in the report of the CHT Commission’s second mission in Bangladesh in February 2009.The third mission aimed at assessing the situation in the CHT with regard to ongoing reports of human rights violations and monitoring the implementation of the different provisions of the CHT Accord. It also aimed at following up on recommendations made during the previous missions and engaging in dialogue with concerned parties. Accordingly the mission held high-level meetings with the Prime Minister and concerned Ministers, the CHT Land Commission and the Law Commission. It also met brigade commanders, senior police officers, political party and civil society representatives and interviewed victims of human rights violations among the indigenous peoples in the CHT. The delegation also conducted field visits to Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachori districts, interviewing and holding discussions with both indigenous peoples and Bengalis, including victims of human rights violations and forcible land grabbing. Details of this report, is attached herewith. For further information please visit this link; http://www.iwgia.org/sw153.asp#516_30118 or contact to Ms Christina Nilsson- cn@iwgia.org

REPORT OF
THE CHITTAGONG HILL TRACTS COMMISSION’S
MISSION IN BANGLADESH

August 10-18, 2009

This report sets out the activities of the CHT Commission on its third mission to Bangladesh on August 10-18, 2009, following steps taken by the Awami League-led Government to implement provisions of the CHT Accord of 1997. The report also follows up on the issues and recommendations raised in the report of the CHT Commission’s second mission in Bangladesh in February 2009.


The third mission aimed at assessing the situation in the CHT with regard to ongoing reports of human rights violations and monitoring the implementation of the different provisions of the CHT Accord. It also aimed at following up on recommendations made during the previous missions and engaging in dialogue with concerned parties.


Accordingly the mission held high-level meetings with the Prime Minister and concerned Ministers, the CHT Land Commission and the Law Commission. It also met brigade commanders, senior police officers, political party and civil society representatives and interviewed victims of human rights violations among the indigenous peoples in the CHT. The delegation also conducted field visits to Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachori districts, interviewing and holding discussions with both indigenous peoples and Bengalis, including victims of human rights violations and forcible land grabbing. For the full list of meetings held, see Annex 1.


The following is a brief account of the issues discussed with the various concerned parties during the third mission and the recommendations put forward by the CHT Commission. These recommendations to the Government are intended for its immediate consideration, and focus upon solving the land disputes in the CHT, enhancing the powers of the civil administration in the CHT and protecting human rights and ensuring access to justice in the CHT.

I. The full implementation of the CHT Accord 1997
In 1997, the Government of Bangladesh and Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) signed the CHT Accord, which ended an almost two-decade long armed struggle for autonomy for the region. The Accord promised:

  1. land rights to the indigenous people;
  2. revival of their cultural identities;
  3. rehabilitation of internally displaced people and repatriated refugees;
  4. withdrawal of military from the CHT, with the exception of permanent military establishments; and
  5. self-government through regional and district councils.

Most of the provisions, however, remained either unimplemented or only partially implemented, thereby maintaining the CHT as an area characterized by severe human rights violations and militarization.


With the Awami League-led Government’s pledges in connection with the December 2008 election to fully implement the CHT Accord and to secure their rights and to undertake special programmes to preserve the language, literature, culture, and unique lifestyles of the indigenous communities, hopes were raised that all the provisions of the CHT Accord would finally be implemented without furher delay.


True to its election manifesto, the Government has taken important measures to implement the CHT Accord. These include specifically the setting up of the National Committee for Implementation of the CHT Accord, re-establishment of the Land Commission and the Task Force on Rehabilitation of Returnee Jumma Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, the cancellation of plantation leases that have not been properly developed, and the withdrawal of temporary military camps. This has generated a sense of momentum, which the CHT Commission appreciates and encourages.


Unfortunately, it remains unclear how and when the various provisions will be implemented. No steps have been taken to develop a time-bound action plan in consultation with indigenous peoples in the CHT to ensure that all the provisions in the Peace Accord are implemented and in an appropriate sequence. The development of a time-bound action plan has been strongly recommended by several concerned parties, including the Human Rights Council in its Universal Periodic Review of Bangladesh, the CHT Commission and indigenous peoples in Bangladesh.
The CHT Commission is concerned about the reports of renewal of hostilities between the different internal groupings in the CHT. With the Government’s initiatives to implement the remaining provisions of the CHT Accord it is as imperative as ever that the indigenous peoples in the region act in unity.


Recommendations:
The Government should take immediate steps to develop a time-bound action plan for the implementation of all provisions of the CHT Peace Accord in consultation with indigenous peoples in the CHT.


The CHT Commission further recommends that the financial costs for implementing the CHT Accord and making its implementing bodies fully functional be worked out and included in the budget of the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs to be handed to the Ministry of Finance before the next budgetary review in December 2009.


II. Land disputes
As noted by the CHT Commission in its report from the second mission to Bangladesh and as evidenced from the discussions held with civil society in the CHT, one of the main problems in the area is the indigenous peoples’ loss of land due to evictions, government settlement programmes of Bengalis from the plains between 1979 and 1986, land grabbing and so-called development projects. There is a backlog of land related problems in the CHT, such as the failure to record titles to land allotted to or under customary use by indigenous peoples, to implement the provisions for resettlement and rehabilitation of repatriated indigenous refugees and to cancel illegally occupied lands and unnecessary land acquisitions involving forcible eviction of the indigenous peoples. Expansion of settlement of Bengali settlers, forcible land grabbing and communal clashes related to land conflicts continue to be reported in all three districts.


The CHT Commission finds it encouraging that the Government on July 19, 2009 has appointed the Chairman of the CHT Land Commission and that the Land Commission Chairman has reassured that land held under customary law will be considered when determining land disputes as it is stipulated in the CHT Accord that “The (Land) Commission will resolve disputes on the basis of existing laws, customs and systems of the Chittagong Hill Tracts”. The CHT Commission, however, is concerned about the rate of progress towards activation of the Land Commission; the lack of allocation of staff and office facilities; the Land Commission’s lack of progress on the determination of disputed land claims; and its apparent decision to hold the cadastral survey before the settlement of land disputes. Furthermore, there seems to be uncertainty in terms of how the Land Commission would deal with cases involving customary title/use vis-à-vis certificates issued by the Deputy Commissioner to Bengali settlers from the plains in the late 1970s or early 1980s.


It is also of concern to the CHT Commission that the proposed amendments to the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act by the CHT Regional Council have apparently not been considered by the relevant Ministries. The recommendations include provisions (i) to remove the virtual veto powers of the Chairperson and (ii) to delegate powers of the Land Commission to any member or official to conduct preliminary enquiries and hearings.


Another key actor in addressing the land conflicts in the CHT is the Task Force on Rehabilitation of Returnee Jumma Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. However, as is the case with the CHT Land Commission, the Task Force lacks the necessary resources, including staff, to perform its duties. The need of the Government to assess the resources needed for the Task Force and the Land Commission to ensure full settlement of all the land disputes brought to the attention of the Land Commission was discussed with both Ministers and the donor community.


The CHT Commission would like to highlight the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on CHT Affairs on August 18, 2009, to cancel 260 plots of land leased out for rubber cultivation for violating the terms and conditions of the allotment. Concerns were however raised about the arbitrary way the field investigation is being done, the possible lack of neutrality of those in charge of providing the information about fulfillment of the terms and conditions of the allotments as well as how and to whom the cancelled plots would be allocated.


Recommendations:

  • The Land Commission should establish a database of all disputed land claims, providing the claimants with forms on which they can supply the information required for this purpose. This might be the subject of an approach to international agencies such as UNDP for financial and technical assistance.
  • Because of the complexity of overlapping titles on the same land plots granted in different circumstances, the land disputes should be settled before the cadastral survey is carried out and a definitive set of rules should be developed by the Land Commission to rank the relative priority of different kinds of land titles. For those whose claims to land are disallowed, the government should draft rehabilitation measures for discussion with community leaders.
  • The Government should immediately adopt needed amendments of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001 and provide the CHT Land Commission as well as the Task Force for CHT Refugee Rehabilitation Affairs with the necessary means to resolve land disputes with effectiveness and justice, as stipulated in the CHT Accord.
  • Moreover, there is a need for a speedy development of government guidelines for the interaction and division of labour between the Task Force and the Land Commission.
  • The CHT Commission recommends that the plots of land leased out for plantations which violate the terms and conditions of the allotment are restored to the indigenous people, who traditionally used these plots under customary law.

III. Enhancing powers of the civil administration
Since the previous mission of the CHT Commission in February 2009 no progress has been seen in the transferal of subjects and functions to the three Hill District Councils as well as the enactment of Rules of Business for the CHT Regional Council, which are provided for in the CHT Accord in order to strengthen local governance and ensure regional autonomy in the CHT.

The CHT Commission finds the newly passed Upazila Parishad (Repealed Act Re-Introduction and Amendment) Bill a cause for concern. With the Bill, the upazila parishads have to accept the advisory role of Members of Parliament when making plans for development in their respective electoral constituencies. In the CHT, this is one of the functions of the CHT Regional Council and the Bill therefore potentially weakens the powers of the local administration in the CHT.


Another important aspect of strengthening the civil administration in the CHT is the holding of elections for the Hill District Councils and the CHT Regional Council. With the dramatic demographic change in the CHT since the late 1970’s there is a need for an electoral system, which ensures fair representation of all ethnic communities and women. This will require an amendment to the Hill District Council Acts. The CHT Commission is therefore disappointed at the absence of proposals for electing the Hill District Councils.


The civil administration in the CHT is also hobbled by the continuing heavy military presence in the region. The CHT Commission therefore welcomes the announcement on July 29 2009 that an army brigade consisting of three battalions and 35 security camps would be withdrawn from the CHT by September 2009. At the time of the CHT Commission’s mission, the withdrawal of army camps had begun. While welcomed, albeit guardedly, by the indigenous peoples and some Bengali settlers, others claimed that their safety would be jeopardized.


During meetings with the brigade commanders and their staff the CHT Commission members were informed that they saw no security risks with compliance to the government policy on the withdrawal of the camps. This view was confirmed by the police and local authorities. It should also be noted that the withdrawal of army camps from the hill districts are merely redeployment of troops to battalion headquarters and according to various sources, more than 300 camps will remain in the CHT.

While the withdrawal of military camps is a positive indication of the Government’s determination to implement the CHT Accord, the CHT Commission continues to receive many reports of continued military influence on the civil administration of the CHT as well as reports of the army officers instigating Bengalis to provoke communal riots and to protest against the withdrawal of army camps. The CHT Commission is concerned that the scope and ambit of Operation Uttoron (Operation Upliftment), currently ongoing in the CHT, is not in the public domain. The executive order authorizing this Operation reportedly confers on the military rights to intervene in civil matters beyond their proper jurisdiction.


Recommendations:

  • All the agreed subjects and functions as specified in the Accord should be handed over to the Hill District Councils with immediate effect, and all the necessary steps should be taken to ensure the full functioning of the CHT Regional Council.
  • It is imperative that elections are held for the Hill District Councils and the CHT Commission recommends that alternative electoral methods are explored promptly. In the meanwhile, the representative character of the Hill District Councils could be improved by co-opting members of the smaller ethnic minorities in the area.
  • Functions normally performed by civilian agencies but now undertaken by the military, such as development projects and any other activities not requiring specific military skills, should be transferred to the civil administration and to institutions set up by the CHT Accord.
  • The order authorizing Operation Uttoron should be published for public scrutiny and reviewed judiciously in the public interest.

IV. Human rights and access to justice
During the mission, the CHT Commission delegation met a broad section of indigenous peoples’ representatives and civil society and interviewed victims of human rights violations. It is the assessment of the CHT Commission that the overall human rights and justice situation in the CHT continues to be a cause for great concern.


Indigenous peoples in the CHT continue to face human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions, torture, rape, attacks, harassment, religious persecution, political harrassment, and lack of access to socio-economic rights or to freedom of expression including with respect to cultural activities. A vast majority of cases remain without proper investigation, prosecution and punishment. This culture of absence of justice and impunity of the offenders pervade the issue of justice in the CHT.


Access to redress for victims and their families are few and often difficult in practical terms. Particular problems relate to discriminatory legislation, lack of access to courts in terms of physical access as well as lack of funds and legal aid, and the failure to activate the legal aid programme of the government in the CHT to date. Lack of information is another factor as is the lack of available lawyers to assist. Poverty and the length of the process of getting to court are other factors preventing indigneous peoples from pursuing the cases they file all the way through the legal system.


In light of the serious human rights situation in the CHT, the CHT Commission was encouraged by the Prime Minister’s statement on the occasion of the the International Day of the World's Indigenous People in support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This statement encourages not only the indigenous peoples in Bangladesh, but also all over the world, and it indicates that the Government of Bangladesh recognises the particular rights of its indigenous communities. There does, however, seem to be confusion about the term ‘indigenous peoples’ both within the Government and civil society, which needs to be clarified.


Recommendations:

  • The CHT Commission urges continuing measures to enhance access to justice within the CHT, including the activation of legal aid committees.
  • The Government should invite the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people to assess the situation in the CHT and clarify the concept of indigenous peoples.
  • The CHT Commission notes the Government's call to end impunity and assert due process and reiterate its recommendation that in the same spirit the issue of impunity for human rights violations in the CHT should be addressed by holding independent and impartial investigations into such reports, and where sufficient evidence exists, bringing those responsible to trial, and providing reparations to victims.
  • Considering the prevalence of reports of violence against women in the CHT, as in the rest of the country, the Commission recommends that priority be given to activating the Nari o Shishu Nirjaton Domon (Suppression of Violence against Women and Children) Tribunals in every district of the CHT and that appropriate training be provided to concerned law enforcement and judicial officers responsible for investigation, prosecution and adjudication of such cases, and to extend legal aid to victims.
  • The CHT Commission urges that the review of vexatious cases announced by the Government be conducted by an impartial and accountable body, and further that effective redress and reparations are made available to the affected persons.
  • The Government should allow human rights and other NGOs (whether local, national or international) free access to travel within the CHT and monitor human rights violations. The CHT Commission reiterates its recommendation that open invitations are extended to the UN Special Procedures[1] as mentioned by the Government under the Universal Periodic Review in February 2009.
  • Government legal services in the region should be activated, and an effective public information and education program should be developed, so that victims and witnesses of human rights and crimes, in particular violence against women, are able to access legal remedies, as previously recommended by the CHT Commission.
  • The Government of Bangladesh is urged once again to withdraw its reservations to internationally agreed treaties on human rights, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention against Torture and All Other Forms of Cruel, Degrading and Inhuman Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
  • The Government of Bangladesh is urged to ratify ILO Convention No. 169 as well as the Refugee Convention, as recommended by the UN Human Rights Council and as agreed by Bangladesh with the international community in the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.


Annex 1: List of meetings

  • Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Prime Minister
  • Dr. Dipu Moni, Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Mr. Abul Mal Abdul Muhith, Minister, Ministry of Finance
  • Mr. Dipankar Talukder, State Minister, Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs
  • Mr. Promod Mankin, Minister, Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on CHT Affairs
  • Justice Mohammad Abdur Rashid, Chairman, Law Commission
  • Justice Khademul Islam Chowdhury, Chairman, CHT Land Commission
  • Mr. Jyotindra Lal Tripura, Chairman, Task Force on Rehabilitation of Returnee Jumma Refugees and IDPs
  • Local administration
  • Mr. Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma (Shantu Larma), Chairman, CHT Regional Council
  • Mr. Mizanur Rahman, Deputy Commissioner, Bandarban
  • Mr. Shourendronath Chakrabarty, Deputy Commissioner, Rangamati
  • Mr. Kyaw Shwe Hla, Chairman, Bandarban Hill District Council
  • Mr. Nikhil Kumar, Chairman, Rangamati Hill District Council
  • Brigade Commanders
  • Brigadier General Shah Atiqur Rahman, Brigade Commander, Bandarban
  • Brigadier General AKM Abdullah Hil Baki, Brigade Commander, Rangamati
  • Brigadier General Mohammad Emadul Haque, Brigade Commander, Khagrachori
  • Political parties
  • Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS)
    United Peoples' Democratic Front (UPDF)
    o Jamaat-e-Islami
  • Civil Society (CHT Forest and Land Committee, Tribal Muslim Welfare Association, Jummo Refugee Welfare Association, Indigenous and Bengali representatives in Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachori)
  • Media
  • Diplomatic missions and donor agencies


Annex 2: Background to the CHT Commission


On 31 May and 1 June, 2008, at a meeting of experts in Copenhagen, Denmark, it was decided to re-establish the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission in view of the situation in the CHT with the following mandate:


"To promote respect for human rights, democracy and restoration of civil and judicial rights in the CHT in Bangladesh, including examination of the implementation of the CHT Accord of 1997. The CHT Commission will build on the work by the first CHT Commission (1990-2001)."


The Commission was re-constituted with eleven members from Bangladesh and abroad: Ms. Sultana Kamal (Bangladesh, co-chair), Lord Eric Avebury (United Kingdom, co-chair), Dr. Ida Nicolaisen (Denmark, co-chair), Dr. Shapan Adnan (Bangladesh), Ms. Victoria Tauli-Corpuz (Philippines), Mr. Robert Evans (United Kingdom), Dr. Muhammed Zafar Iqbal (Bangladesh), Ms. Sara Hossain (Bangladesh), Dr. Hideaki Uemura (Japan), Mr. Lee Swepston (USA) and Mr. Lars-Anders Baer (Sweden).


The CHT Commission held its first visit to Bangladesh August 6–14, 2008, with the aim of becoming familiar with the situation in the CHT, holding initial meetings with concerned parties and seeking their input into possible actions to be taken and recommendations to be made by the CHT Commission. It also directly received complaints on land and human rights violations in the CHT.


The CHT Commission carried out its second mission to Bangladesh February 16-22, 2009 with the aim of informing the newly elected government about the CHT Commission’s concerns and urge it to take concrete and time-bound measures for the full implementation of the Peace Accord, and to address ongoing human rights violations in the CHT on an urgent basis. The delegation met with a broad range of concerned parties and raised issues of concern and recommendations in its mission report.


[1] The Special Procedures include the Special Rapporteurs and the Working Groups if the UN Human Rights Council.