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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

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.

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