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Monday, October 5, 2009

Bangladesh: Deputy Commission of Bandarban issued unlawful letter to Headmen

Picture (courtesy Kapaeeng Foundation): The letter of the DC of Bandarban district.

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation.

On 23 September 2009 Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Bandarban district Mr. Mizanur Rahman issued a letter to all Headmen of Bohmong circle ordering not to issue any land deed to any person without permission from him. Issuance of this letter is controdictory to the rights of indigenous Jumma peoples in CHT. He also threatened that Headman would be removed from his headmanship if any Headman handed over such deed.

It is mentionable that according to Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation of 1990, Headmen of CHT region have the rights to give settlement of 0.30 acre of land to any mouza resident and accordingly to issue land deed to him.

It is also worth mentioning that the land lands under the jurisdiction of mouza are regarded as common property of mouza residents. The common lands are those which belong to the indigenous community with shared rights of access. The indigenous people have right to these lands and its resources, by virtue of their common ownership of these areas, and traditional economic activities such as fishing, hunting and gathering are carried out in these areas. Jum lands fall within this category, as do the lands used for orchards, grazing and for growing sungrass (used to make thatched roofs). The forests are also included within this category of mouza commons, and are the common property pf the indigenous community with equal rights of access, use and extraction.

However, Deputy Commissioner of Bandarban issued this letter violating the rights of indigenous Jumma peoples and rights & responsibilities of Headmen. He one-sidedly claimed these lands as state-owned. He also indiscriminately alleged against the Headmen to have involved with corruption.

DC also issued a letter to Mr. Loyal Devid Bawm, a member of CHT Regional Council to stop construction of building for tribal museum at Shita Pahar (Chimbuk-Thanchi road) of Pantala mouza under Ruma upazila in Bandarban district. He claimed that construction of building on government land without permission is illegal. However, Mr. Bawm got permission/recommendation from Mr. Lumlai Mro, Headman of Pantala mouza & local Jumma villagers and accordingly applied for registration for this land.

Local residents believed that DC of Bandarban district starts these activities when the possibility of functioning of land commission for resolution of land disputes in CHT is seen.

Motive Sought for Slaying of Church Worker in Bangladesh


Police, wife doubt student attackers’ story of cell phone theft.

by Aenon Shalom

DHAKA, Bangladesh, Authorities are investigating possible motives for the vicious killing of a church worker by students at Dhaka University.

A management student at the university and his friends are accused of torturing and killing Swapan Mondol, 35, on Sept. 12 in Suhrawardy Park, adjacent to the university. Mondol, a convert from Hinduism, was supervisor of youth mission for Free Christian Church of Bangladesh (FCCB).

The primary suspect’s friends claim they came to his aid after Mondol stole his cell phone, a scenario that Mondol’s wife and police said they doubt. His wife, Lucky Mondol, told Compass that she does not know why they killed her husband.

“He was an evangelist and earned good amount of money from his job, so he could not snatch a mobile phone in the park,” she said.

She said that when she rushed to Dhaka Medical Hospital after learning of the attack, she found her husband’s body lying stiff on the floor with two holes in his head. His body was smeared with congealed blood. He had been wearing a gold ring and a neck chain of gold, but those items and his cell phone were missing, she said.

Police suspect Mohammed Rajon and his student friends of the killing and have confirmed reports of other cases of violence by student groups who cite cell phone theft as a pretext for attacking innocent people.

Local police inspector Rezaul Karim told Compass the killing was cloaked in mystery.

“Some students of Dhaka University killed Mondol on a charge of snatching a mobile phone,” Karim said. “The students said they caught him red-handed, so why didn’t they just hand him over to us? If he had snatched anything from them, we would have recovered it from him.”

Police will file a murder case, Karim said.

“What a killing frenzy it was,” he said. “Nobody has the right to kill anyone, whoever he is.”

Karim denied Bangladeshi newspaper reports claiming that he said Mondol and three accomplices tried to steal a cell phone from Rajon.


Almost all Bangladeshi media portrayed Mondol, who studied theology at the Christian Development Center in Dhaka and completed graduate work in theology in Bangalore, India, as a thief who worked among park prostitutes.

“I am so shocked by the media, which published vicious calumnies about him,” she said. “The media reports added fuel to the flames and indirectly supported the lynch mob.”

Some newspapers quoted her even though she never spoke to their reporters, she said.

“One top Bengali newspaper reported that my husband used to go everyday in the park, and that I told it to them,” she said. “It is a thumping lie. Around 15 to 20 days a month my husband used to officially visit various districts in the country for church work. How an innocent man died with scandal!”

FCCB Chairman Albert P. Mridha told Compass that Mondol, father of a 10-year-old child, was a loyal and sober church worker who worked for 14 years in nationwide ministry.

“We do not have any program from our church to work among the floating [park] sex workers,” Mridha said.

A week before his death, Mondol returned from a three-week trip to southern Bangladesh to oversee church activities, Mridha said. He had planned to preach at a revival meeting in northern Bangladesh.

“Most of the days of the month he used to spend on tour for church work,” Mridha said. “Sometimes he used to go to the Dhaka University area to see the cultural programs.”

Bangladeshi media also mistakenly identified Mondol as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) worker, to which Mridha also objected, saying a church employee is not an NGO worker.

“He was an honest and sincere worker in his duty,” said Mridha. “If 14 years of past experience is anything to go by, undoubtedly I can say that he was not engaged in theft. There was different kind of motive to kill him which we do not know. But killing him on suspicion of snatching was a pretext.”

Criminals attack minority family, kills baby and hang body with rope

Source: The Daily Star

Criminals killed an 18-month-old child and seriously injured the mother of the baby at their Puratan Bazar residence in Bagerhat town yesterday morning.

The deceased is Arna Basu Tisha, daughter of Shuchitra Basu and Pallab Basu, an employee of a cement shop in Bagerhat town.

A group of 10 or 12 criminals, who entered the house at about 10:30am, strangled the child and hung its body with a rope from the ceiling, said Shuchitra Basu, now undergoing treatment at Bagerhat General Hospital.

The criminals also beat her to serious injuries and left the place before neighbours rushed there, she said.

As the child and the mother were taken to Bagerhat General Hospital at about 11:15am, doctors declared the child dead.

Pallab Basu was not at home during the tragic incident, said Shuchitra.

It might be a sequel to previous enmity, police said.

Bangladesh: Women worst victims of HR violations

Source: The Daily Star

Political instability and worsening law and order situation are linked to the violations of human rights in the country and the worst victims of HR violations are women, said Sultana Kamal, a former adviser to the caretaker government, at a seminar yesterday.

Though a democratic government is now in power, political stability and law and order are yet to be ensured, she said as the chief guest at the inaugural session of the three-day seminar titled 'Human rights and gender: core concepts, major debates and emerging issues' at Brac Centre Inn in the city.

"The state machineries have failed to provide justice for women who are abused sexually, mentally and physically," she said.

Women do not have access to proper healthcare services, they are suffering from acute malnutrition, and they even don't have the right to information, she said.

The constitution grants equal rights to women and men, but women do not have enough access to all public facilities, she added.

Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) organised the seminar with the support of Diakonia, a Swedish NGO. Representatives from partner NGOs of Diakonia from South Asia are taking part in the seminar to share their experiences on gender and human rights issues.

Mirjam Dahlgren, policy adviser to Diakonia, was present as a special guest.

She said human rights involve all sections of people -- rich and poor, men and women and children and the aged. To ensure human rights of women, men have to come forward and involve themselves more.

To curb violence against women, the government must ensure that the culprits do not go unpunished, she added.

The speakers also said human rights cannot be ensured without addressing the gender equality issues.

Swedish Ambassador Britt F Hagström, Executive Director of BLAST Mohsin Ali Khan, seminar coordinator Dina Mahnaz Siddiqi and Sultana Begum of Diakonia Bangladesh also spoke.