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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.