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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

200 year old Raghunath Temple demolished by Awami league leader and his guns

Mr A Karim , Principal Secretary to the Hon’ble Prime Minister
Prime Minister’s Office, Dhaka email :

Dear Principal Secretary

We regret to inform you that former Awami League Secretary General and Member of Parliament from Naogaon Mr M A Jalil and his goons has organized vandalism , ransacked and destroyed the 200-year old Raghunath Mandir of Dhubalhati Rajbari under Naogaon district with a plea of constructing so called Mercantile Bank Hospital in that holy place of Temples.
. The heir of the Rajparibar of Dhubalhati Mrs ArunaRoy Chowdhurani filed a representation to Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities ( HRCBM), an NGO in special Consultative Status with the ECOSOC of the United Nations, to raise the issue in the Comity of Nations for violation of Constitutional Rights of religious minority by a ruling party prominent personality. (Representation is enclosed in the attached file)
Mrs Roy Chowdhurani also applied for relief to the Deputy Commissioner, Naogaon , but the local administration could not protect her owing to the political pressure and absorbed the violation of religious minority’s fundamental constitutional Rights and High Court verdict of Status Qua. (Application addressed to the Deputy Commissioner attached in the File), moreover two photographs of demolished Temple cite also appended in the attached file.
We appeal that the government should open a Cell in the Prime Minister’s Office to listen the grievances of the religious minorities in the country. We have been observing that a few cases of violation of human rights are appeared in the print media. The Local administration in civil and police are ‘Yes boys” of political pressure that declined the image of Government in the mind of minorities.
Minority Community is leaderless rudderless, they may not come down to the street but may turn their faces from Awami League in future, because they are the victim of unequal application of laws and constitutional rights.
The Government should establish rule of law, equity and justice. In Bangladesh, being a Hindu means being a victim of oppression, torture and discrimination. The state failed to provide security to the minorities despite equal rights guaranteed to them in the constitution. The mere holding of periodic elections is not the only yardstick of measuring democracy or health of a society. If gross violation of the economic rights of the Hindu minority is a yardstick, tyranny of the majority rules the roost in Bangladesh.
Any society that claims itself as democratic should have no place for such a discriminatory treatment of ruling party like Awami League. The self-contradictory “State Religion Provision” and “Vested Property Act” compromised making the State pledge meaningless. We have witnessed history over last six decades, we had witnessed hours of joy , pangs of agonies and ecstasy in 1971.
‘Give us the opportunity to realize that you as well as your Government are fully with us in our desire to get our due share in every walk of life. Only then can you, in fairness claim loyalty from us”. We will always remain with the government to uphold the Minorities fundamental Rights in the country.
Bangladesh: Profiles as shown in the US State Department website : depicted the population as Population (July 2009 CIA est.): 156 million. Annual population growth rate (July 2009 CIA est.): 1.29%.Ethnic groups (1998, CIA): Bengali 98%, other 2% (including tribal groups, non-Bengali Muslims).
Religions (1998, CIA): Muslim 83%; Hindu 16%; Christian 0.3%, Buddhist 0.6%, others 0.3%. But throughout the decade we are listening the population of non-Muslims below 10 % (Ten percent) whereas , it is 17 % In the CIA records. Will the government of Bangladesh recognize this figure?
We shall be thankful if you kind enough to place the note along with documents attached in the file to the Honorable Prime Minister for her kind perusal and necessary action thereof.
Sd? 24/07/2011
(Rabindranath Trivedi)-
Secretary General , HRCBM

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bangladesh: Land grabbing, raping of indigenous women and religious persecution in CHT continue

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

Human rights violation including land grabbing, raping of indigenous women and religious persecution continue in CHT unabated. For instances-

Attempt to grab land belonging to Marma community in Manikchari

On 8 May 2011 Bengali settlers attempted to grab land belonging to Marma community at Warkchari of Luklukya area under Hafchari union in Manikchari upazila of Khagrachari district.

It is learnt that on that day in the morning around 10 am a group of Bengali settlers went Warkchari of Luklukya area and started to clean jungle to erect houses. Tension was mount while indigenous villagers opposed them.

Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Manikchari upazila and a group of military forces rushed there and stopped Bengali settlers from land grabbing.

It is also reported that on that day in the evening Bengali settlers gathered near Jumma villages and attempted to attack indigenous villages. On the contrary, Jumma villagers organised themselves to protect Bengali settlers’ attack.


Attempt to grab 400 acres of land in Lama
In May 2011 Chairman Nuru and Mohammad Shamshu, brother of ex-chairman, attempted to grab 400 acres of lands belonging to indigenous Tripura community in Phaitong Mouza under Lama upazila of Bandarban district. Already, 20 acres of forest belonging to the villagers have been destroyed. When the villagers resisted the move, the land grabbers filed a GD (General Diary) with Lama police station.

It is learnt that in 1980, the district administration leased out 120 acres of land in Phaitong Mouza to a non-resident person Mr. A. A. Sultan Ahmed for horticulture. However, the authorities canceled his lease as per CHT Accord as he failed to use the land within stipulated 3 years time from the date of lease.

Adjacent to the said land are registered and occupancy lands belonging to Tripura and Marma communities of Jaditung Para village.

Mohammad Shamshu, brother of ex chairman Rafiq, and Nuru, chairman of Harbang Union Council, are now trying to capture community Jum land and lands belonging to the Jumma villagers. Besides practicing jum cultivation, indigenous villagers have now taken to horticulture.


Jumma teenager killed after rape

An 11-year old Jumma girl has been killed reportedly after rape in Boalkhali union under Dighinala upazila in Khagrachari district. The victim has been identified as Sunika Chakma alias Milacha, a class three student of Kamokyachara Government Primary School. Police recovered her lifeless, naked body on 13 May 2011 morning near Zia Nagor.

It is learnt that Sunika Chakma went to Shafi’s shop to buy some cigarettes. But she had not returned since then. He mother Kalpana Chakma alleged that Ali Azom’s son Md. Kashem of Zia Nagar often teased her daughter and on 14 April 2011 he broke into their house and attempted to rape her daughter. At that time elders from both Jumma and Bengali communities sat together and settled the issue.

Kalpana Chakma filed a case with Dighinala police station against Kashem and others in this connection under sections 9(3)/34 of the Women and Child Repression Act 2000 on 13 May 2011.


Army prevents repair works at Buddhist temple in Maischari

Security forces prevented repair work from being carried out at Maischari Arannyo Kuthir, a Buddhist temple in Maischari Union under Mahalchari Upazila in Khagrachari district.

It is learnt that on 16 May 2011 a group of security forces from Bizitola Camp went to the temple and ordered the stoppage of the ongoing repair work. The temple authority was repairing the pedestal of the Buddha statue and the floor.

The land on which the temple was built was donated by Hemanta Lal Chakma in 2006. Two Buddhist novices or sramanas now live in the temple.


GP of CHT Land Commission replaced

Newly appointed Land Commission GP (Government Pleader) Advocate Monjur Morshed Bhuiyan has removed and replaced by Advocate Ashutosh Chakma on 1 June 2011.

It is mentionable that Solicitor Wing of Ministry of Law & Justice Department issued GO vide memo no: 4662/Solicitor/2004(Part-1)-94, dated: 01/6/2011 and removed Mr. Bhuiyan. Removed lawyer was famously known as anti-CHT Accord leader & Bengali extremist. He was also close associates of Bengali settler’s leader Wadud Bhuiyan and Bengali extremist organistion ‘CHT Equal Rights Movement’.

It is learnt that Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs was misguided by Land Commission Chairman retired Justice Mr. Khademul Islam. The name of Advocate Bhuiyan was proposed by Land Commission, Khagrachari office. Newly appointed GP Advocate Ashutosh Chakma confirmed that he got an appointment letter from Solicitor wing of Law Ministry.

Bangladesh: PCJSS, PCP and HWF demand trial of all murder and rape incidents in the CHT

Source: PCJSS

At the protest rally organised separately in Rangamati, Bandarban and Dhaka on 31 July 2011, leaders of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), Pahari Chhatra Parishad (PCP) and Hill Women's Federation (HWF) warned of tough movement if the government fails to ensure punishment to the killers of three indigenous men in Lama upazila under Bandarban district.
It is mentionable that on 30 July 2011 at around 12 noon three indigenous Marma villagers were killed by a Bengali settler at Siletuya Para of Rupashi union under Lama upazila (sub-district) in Bandarban district in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).
The speakers also demanded trial of all murder and rape incidents in the CHT. They said that due to continue impunity, indigenous peoples are increasingly becoming victim of murder and rape by Bengali settlers and such heinous human rights violations would not go unabated if the CHT Accord was implemented in full.
They put up a seven-point demand including judicial inquiry and punishment of the killers, providing appropriate compensation for the victims' families, judicial investigation into all such incidents, rehabilitation the Bengali settlers outside the CHT, withdrawal of all temporary camps including de facto military rule ‘Operation Uttoron’ from CHT, full implementation of the CHT Accord without delay and constitutional recognition to the indigenous people as 'indigenous'.
Sexual harassment in July 2011
It seems the violence against women in CHT is intensifying in a very systematic manner. For instances in July 2011-
On 5 July 2011: Alamgir, a Bangali settler attempted to rape a 13-year-old Mro girl in Lama under Bandarban district.
On 27 July 2011: A 13-year-old Jumma girl was raped by a Bengali settler named Abdul Majid in Baghaichari under Rangamati.
On 27 July 2011: A Bangali settler Zakir Hossain attempted to rape an 18-year-old Marma girl while she was on her way home from college. She was saved after she screamed for help.
On 30 July 2011: A 13-year-old Marma girl was attempted to rape by a Bengali settler in Lama under Bandrarban district.
For more media report of Bangla newspapers on Lama triple killing, please visit below link:
Kalerkantho: Alo:

Bangladeshi Hindu temple opens today in Hamtramck


Hundreds packed a former union hall in Hamtramck today for the opening of a Hindu temple, reflecting the growth in the community in metro Detroit.

Special prayers were held inside the Bangladesh Hindu Temple, which reopened Sunday after a fire destroyed their previous building in 2006 a few blocks away. In front of an image of Goddess Durga, a priest conducted services followed by a lunch of blessed food and religious singing.

"We feel very good, wonderful," said Hari Dutta, a Troy resident who is president of the temple. "This is very important for us."

The temple was founded by Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority country where Hindus are in the minority. Dutta said the membership of the new temple is largely working-class and so it took them some time to obtain a new building and reopen the temple.

"For five years we had no place," said Dutta.

The temple was founded in 2002, but a fire ripped through the building, which was also in Hamtramck. The cause of the blaze was investigated by federal agents, but the cause remains unknown.

Temple members said they want to be able to practice their faith and pass on their traditions.

"We're trying to help the future generations practice the Hindu religion," said Debabrata Dey of Detroit.

The temple is the second Hindu center in metro Detroit that consists of Bengali-speaking members.

"We're trying to keep the culture alive for our kids," said Biswajit Devnath, of Hamtramck. "If we don't do this, they won't know their religion. This is a place where they can come on the weekends."

The building is close to the American Axle manufacturing plant and was purchased from the UAW.

Inside the temple is a colorful display of Durga, considered a female embodiment of the divine spirit.

Bangladesh teacher sacked in Mohammed dispute

Source: AFP

DHAKA — A Hindu teacher in Muslim-majority Bangladesh has been sacked after allegedly making offensive remarks about the prophet Mohammed that triggered angry protests, officials said Monday.

Shankar Biswas, a 32-year-old English teacher at a government high school in the southern town of Tungipara, infuriated students with his comments during class, senior police officer M. Rokonuzzaman told AFP.

"Students and their parents staged instant protests and then some 5,000 people demonstrated the next day, demanding action. Some attacked his house," he said, adding that Biswas had since fled.

Rokonuzzaman and other officials declined to reveal what the teacher was alleged to have said.

"He has been fired from his job with immediate effect on charges of making offensive remarks against the prophet Mohammed," said Subodh Chandra Dhali, the education ministry spokesman in Dhaka.

Islamic groups also held protests in the capital and other parts of the country.

About 90 percent of Bangladesh's 142 million people are Muslims, and religious issues often erupt into unrest.

Recent protests have focused on an Islamic pledge that has been removed from the constitution by the secular ruling party.

There were also violent protests in 2006 after a Danish newspaper printed cartoons of the prophet.

In 2009, a local newspaper cartoonist was jailed briefly for hurting religious feelings after a drawing showed a small boy suggesting that all cats should be named Mohammed.

Indigenous People: UN rejects govt's view

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

The general segment of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) session rejected the official position of Bangladesh government on the non-Bangalee people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), and adopted the report of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

The Bangladesh government, represented by Abul Kalam Abdul Momen, raised its concern over the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) going beyond its mandate in dealing with the issue of implementing the CHT Peace Accord, on the ground that there are no indigenous people in CHT.

The government also pleaded ECOSOC to delete some paragraphs of its10th session report.

But the request was not accepted following negotiations over the last three days of the weeklong session that ended on Friday in Geneva, Switzerland, said a press release of the International Council for the Indigenous Peoples of CHT (ICIP-CHT).

ECOSOC will not distinguish between indigenous and tribal groups, the release said.

ECOSOC is the parent organisation of UNPFII.

UNPFII assigned a special rapporteur, Lars-Anders Baer, who visited Bangladesh and independently undertook a study on the status of the implementation of the CHT Peace Accord 1997, and submitted a report to UNPFII during the 10th session of the forum in May this year.

In June, UNPFII called on the Bangladesh government to undertake a phased withdrawal of all temporary army camps from CHT, urged it to declare a timeframe for implementation of the CHT Peace Accord, and to establish an independent commission to inquire into human rights violations perpetrated against "indigenous peoples".

UNPFII further recommended that the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) review the military personnel and units who are being sent on UN missions, to make sure no personnel or unit is taken from any that are accused by "indigenous Jumma people" of violating human rights in CHT.

At the ECOSOC session Bangladesh had to accept a "compromise" due to lacking solidarity from other 53 member-states. However the concerns of Bangladesh raised at the meeting were included as "noted" in the nature of "footnotes", the release said.

The US, Bolivia, Australia, Mexico, and Morocco welcomed the report's adoption while only China, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia provided some support to the concerns raised by Bangladesh, the release added.

The Russian Federation supported the proposed draft amendment to the resolution, and stressed the importance of careful consideration of the definition of indigenous people, and careful interpretation of the UNPFII mandate.

The US said it believes the resolution is consistent with the mandate of the UNPFII.

Foreign Minister’s remark demanded to withdraw by indigenous leaders, academics, rights activists

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

On 29 July 2011 Indigenous peoples and academics and rights groups took to the streets in Dhaka denouncing the statements of the Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, about indigenous peoples and demanded to withdraw the ‘objectionable remarks which were discriminatory and disrespectful to indigenous peoples’

The demand was made in human chain programme organised by Bangladesh Adivasi Chatra Sangram Parishad (Bangladesh Indigenous Students Action Council) in front of the National Museum at Shahbag in Dhaka carrying placards reading slogans against the Foreign Minister and the 15th amendment to the constitution which did not address their longstanding demand for their constitutional recognition as ‘indigenous peoples’.

Speakers said such biased speech could only instigate the peoples of CHT to form a stern movement rather than finding a peaceful solution. The notion of microscopic population of the national minorities’ in Dipu Moni’s speech is totally ‘undemocratic’ and ‘disrespectful’. A democratic country should ensure minorities’ rights even they are microscopic population compared mainstream population.

The speakers also strongly criticised Dipu Moni’s defining of ‘indigenous peoples’ term based on dictionaries and said such flawed definition as a foreign minister, was ‘regrettable’ and ‘shameful’. They said, she proved her ignorance in front of foreign diplomats around the world. They questioned Foreign Minister saying that if the CHT has no indigenous population then how Raja Devasish Roy became a member of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues?

Politician Haider Akbar Khan Rono said he as a Bangladeshi and a Bengali, protests against such statements. “As a Bangladeshi working for this country, I protest on behalf of all my Adivasi sisters and brothers, other friends and colleagues, who are working for the indigenous people towards the development of our Motherland.

Sanjeeb Drong, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivashi Forum claimed that Dipu Moni had expressed her solidarity regarding the ‘indigenous’ term in 2008. Election manifesto of the ruling party and the prime minister’s speech in 2009 also contains the term indigenous.

Dhaka University Professor Robayet Ferdous criticised Foreign Minister as she said giving an special and elevated identity to enfranchise only 1.2 % of the total population of 150 million by disentitling the 98.8% cannot be in the national interest of Bangladesh. Robayet Ferdous said that such a notion was ‘undemocratic’ and ‘disrespectful towards other communities.’ He opined that a democratic country should ensure the rights of the minorities even if they account for less than 1 per cent of the population and should not practise ‘majority-ism’.

Besides, Dr. H K S Arefin, Professor of Dhaka University, Mojammel Huque Tara, Central member of Workers party of Bangladesh, Dipayon Khisa of Kapaeeng Foundation, Golum Murtaza, editor of Saptahik , Mahmudul Haque Suman teacher of Jahangirnagar University, Obaidul Haque, Associate professor of Dhaka University, Tandra Chakma, human Rights activists, Jewel Chakma, Member CHT Hill Students Council, Dany Drong, President of Garo Student Union, Ananta Bikash Dhamai, Information secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Chattra Songram Parishad among others also expressed their solidarity, at the human chain.

It is mentionable that on 26 July 2011, Foreign Minister told diplomats and journalists in two separate briefings that the minority people living in the CHT were ‘tribal and not indigenous.’ She also said that CHT peoples were 'asylum-seekers' and Bangalis are the true indigenous peoples of Bangladesh.

Jumma girl raped in Baghaichari

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

A 13-year old Jumma girl has been raped by a Bengali settler at Rupakari union in Baghaichari under Rangamati district. The incident occurred at 11 am on 27 July 2011.

It is learnt that one Abdul Majid (28) s/o late Abu Hossain Gazi went to the house of one Mono Ranjan Chakma of Bhakta Para under Rupakari union in Baghaichari upazila and found the girl alone. Majid put a fifty Taka note in her hand and asked for sex. When she refused, Majid grabbed and raped her.

It is reported that one day after the incident Majid was arrested by police.

It is reported that Bengali settlers led by Bangali Chattra Parisahd (Bengali Students Council) surrounded the house of Sudarshan Chakma, chairman of Baghaichari Upazila, demanding the release of the rapist. They tried to divert the issue towards communalism and save the culprit. At a stage, the Bengali settlers had to disperse when the local administration intervened.

Three indigenous Marma villagers killed trying to save woman from rape

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

On 30 July 2011 at around 12 noon three indigenous Marma villagers were killed as they tried to save a young Marma woman from getting raped by some Bengali settlers at Siletuya Paea of Rupashi union under Lama upazila (sub-district) in Bandarban district.

The victims were identified as (1) Mr. Aung Sha U Marma (70 years) s/o late Mong Chabai Marma, (2) Ms. Hla Powang Prue Marma (40 years) w/o Mongchasa Marma and (3) her minor son Mong Nue Ching Marma (5 years).

It is learnt that five Bengali settlers sneaked into a farm house in the village at noon and grabbed 15 year-old girl of Ms. Hla Powang Prue Marma and Mr. Mongchasa Marma, working in the farm house, and tried to rape her.

As the girl cried out for help, Aung Sha U Marma and Hla Powang Prue Marma went to the spot. The minor boy followed them. The miscreants attacked and killed them when they were trying to save her. The miscreants also killed the minor boy. The girl who was molested was admitted at Bandarban district hospital.

It is learnt that the police arrested Mohammad Musa for his suspected involvement in the murder. The incident has created panic in the area.

It is reported that Bengali settlers have been trying to grab Jumma villagers’ land for long time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bangladesh Govt to file suit against minority persecutions

Source: Times of Assam

By- Swadesh Roy | Date- June 02, 2011 | Place- Dhaka, Bangladesh

For the first time, Bangladesh government is going to file legal suit against minority persecutions. The home ministry of Bangladesh is preparing entering into litigation. In Bangladesh, minority persecutions happened in 2001 October to December 2002. It happened after a general election. The election was held on 1st October, 2001. Four party alliances led by Bangladesh Nationalist party won the election. Bangladesh nationalist party is an Islamic nationalist party but there others of its ally are Islamic fundamentalist parties. One of the parties is the alliance Islamic Oekoy Jote (IOJ), led by Mufti Fazlul Haque Amini a self-declared Taleban. American state department identified that, IOJ and a student wing of another party of the alliance (Jamate Islami Bangladesh) is international Islamic Militant terrorist. That is way; four party alliances are Islamic fundamentalists and militants. In fact, election of 2001 in Bangladesh Islamic militants won the election. However, observers and political analyst used to say that it was not a free and fair election. It was a conspiracy by some national and international forces, an intelligence organization (which is now condemned by America as a militant organization) of south Asian country made the plot of conspiracy. However, after that election, a man made disaster came on the people of Bangladesh. As a vulnerable group, minority community faced more thump. All the minorities Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians have to face a nightmare. Some examples of that nightmare are that, thirteen partymen of Bangladesh nationalist party in Pabna district of Bangladesh raped a young girl named Purnima Shill. More than five party men raped a seven-month pregnant woman of Hindu community at Bhola district of Bangladesh.

In 2001, after wining the election Islamic militants terrorized the whole country; so nobody can protest that violence. A group of human rights leaders raises a little voice but they were tortured by the state. So the people of Bangladesh have to wait seven years to condemn it. On 29 December of 2008 progressive force of Bangladesh come to power with a landslide mandate of people. The result of that election proved that people of Bangladesh did not like the militancy of the Islamic fundamentalists.

Bangladesh Awami league led progressive alliance formed government in January 2009 and a human right organization, Human Rights and Peace filed a writ petition to the high court on the issue of post election violence and minority persecution of 2001. The high court gave a direction to the government to set up a judiciary investigation commission of those incidents. According to the direction of the high court, the government of Bangladesh formed a three member judicial commission headed by retired district judge Mohammad Shabuddin. The judicial commission probing the 2001 post polls violence has found evidence of over 3625 incidents of major crime including killing, rape, arson and looting by the Bangladesh nationalist party and its ally’s cadres. Offences include 3,270 rapes, 355 murders. The commission’s findings say that most of the raped women are Hindu in religion. Commission also identified that, all are politically motivated murders and rapes. In fact, it was a political motivated cleansing. The four party alliances want to cleanse the minority community because the minorities of Bangladesh support progressive political forces. Therefore, fundamentalist were thinking that, to make an Islamic Militant country they have to cleanse minority and the progressive people of majority community. They try to do it.

The judicial commission suggests the government to start legal suit against the identified person who were involved it. Judicial commission also mentions some former minister and central leaders of four party coalitions were involved in it. A former home minister was also accused in this issue. The present home minister has said that, they are going to file suit according to the commission’s direction.

This legal trail is very much necessary for the image of Bangladesh and its common people. Bangladesh is a country of communal harmony. People of all religions fought for the independence of the country. On the other hand, four party alliance government tarnished the real image of Bangladesh. They made the image of the country as a communal and militant country. Now the responsible people of Bangladesh are thinking that to build up the image of Bangladesh it is necessary to punish the criminal and has to stop the political motivated cleansing of minority.

Shiva icon vandalised

Source: The Daily Star News
Criminals on Monday night vandalised an image of Hindu god Shiva at the two-hundred year-old Hasjratola Kali Temple at Tangrakhali village under Shingasholpur union in Sadar upazila. Locals said, a gang entered the temple breaking open its lock and ransacked the room. They separated the idol's head from its body. Ashwini Kumar Mollick, president of the temple committee said that they are yet to identify the culprits. However, he demanded proper investigation and punishment to those involved.

Contacted, Md Rafiqul Islam, OC of Narail PS said a police team has gone to the spot. "We shall take necessary steps to find the culprits," he said.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hnila Buddhist Temple Destruction

Two indigenous Rakhaine villagers attacked by land grabbers

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation
On 11 May 2011 at around 3.30 pm the Bengali land grabbers of Hnila Buddhist temple and cemetery of indigenous Rakhaine people at Hnila area of Teknaf upazila (sub district) in Cox’s Bazaar district attacked on two innocent indigenous Rakhaine villagers namely Mr. Mong Hla Rakhaine and Mr. Faa She Rakhaine, the residents of North Hnila Bazaar Para (Maug Para). The physical assault was led by Rashed Mahmud Ali, son of former Member of Parliament (MP) Prof. Mohammad Ali, the main perpetrators of land grabbing of the temple and graveyard of Rakhaine people at Hnila.
It is learnt that, Rashed Mahmud Ali made a bogus allegation to these two indigenous villagers of burglary of his goat, afterward tied them up with lash and beaten them up brutally. The critically injured victims tried to file a case with Teknaf police station against the land grabbers, but the police officers rejected to accept any case against the miscreants.
It is mentionable that the former Member of Parliament (MP) Prof. Mohammad Ali and his son Rashed Mahmud Ali, along with their cadres have been conducting attacks one after one with an intention to grab the lands of hundred year-old Buddhist temple of south Hnila of Teknaf upazila and graveyard of Rakhaine people. They destructed the temple, damaged and looted the Buddha’s images, attacked local indigenous Rakhaine peoples including Buddhist monks and constructed houses on the lands of Buddhist temple and the graveyard of Rakhaine people. They have also been threatening indigenous Rakhaine peoples to further attack if they continue protest against the land grabbing.
The local indigenous Rakhaine people already made objections against the land grabbing of Buddhist temple and graveyard and continuous harassments of land grabbers to the local police station of Teknaf, chairman of Hnila Union Parishad, the police super of Cox’s Bazaar, the Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Teknaf Upazila (sub district), the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Cox’ Bazzar district and finally to the Prime Minister of Government of Bangladesh Shekh Hasina. Although they appealed to the several authorities to take necessary measures, but no actions have been taken against the land grabbers and to protect the holy places of indigenous Rakhaine people.

Call to disclose Kalpana Chakma’s abduction rep

Source: The Daily Star News

Speakers on Tuesday demanded immediate disclosure of the enquiry report on the kidnapping of Kalpana Chakma and punishment of the abductors.

Taking part in a human chain in front of the National Museum, the speakers demanded constitutional recognition of the indigenous people of the country.

Hill Women’s Federation (HWF) and ‘Pahari Chhatra Parisahd’ organised the human chain on the 15th anniversary of Kalpana Chakma's disappearance.

“Since the government is committed to implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) treaty, it should ensure the constitutional and legal rights of hill people to establish peace in this region,” said columnist Syed Abul Maksud.

Demanding arrest and punishment of the people involved in the kidnapping of Kalpana Chakma, the then organising secretary of the HWF, he urged the government to publish the enquiry report.

Khushi Kabir, coordinator of ‘Nijera Kori’, stressed on implementation of the CHT treaty and demanded making public the enquiry report.

Rakhi Das Purkaistha, organising secretary of Bangladesh Mohila Parishad, expressed deep concern over continuing harassment on women in the hilly region as well as the whole country.

Leaders of the HWF and ‘Pahari Chhatra Parishad’ asked the government to publish white paper on killing, kidnap, rape and the violation of human rights in the CHT region.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Rally at UN calls on Bangladesh to implement 1997 CHT Accord and remove Army Camps

Press Release

International Jumma Organization.

May, 24, 2011: New York.

The International Jumma Organization in association with Friends of CHT, Bangladesh, organized a large rally outside the United Nations. It was attended by large numbers of Jumma people from Bangladesh who now live in the United States. Also in attendance were Bengali people living in New York, and indigenous peoples’ activists from countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe who are attending the 10th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII).

Speakers at the rally outside the UN emphasized that the Bangladesh government had signed the 1997 CHT Accord, and therefore had a duty to implement the Accord. The continued militarization of the region was condemned as a major violation of the Accord.

In the opening statement, Victoria Tauli Corpuz, the former chairperson of UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues and current member of Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission, said, “I visited burnt down villages, including Mahalchhari in 2003, and also other villages recently, in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. These are villages burnt down in the presence of the Army. We are asking the UNPFII to look at this. Bangladesh army needs to stop these human rights violations, and there should be investigations into the attacks, which are happening very systematically.”

Dr Dina Siddiqi of Bangladesh, visiting Professor at Columbia University, framed the conflict in terms of the majority Bengali population’s privileges: “As long as some groups are excluded from full citizenship rights, the majority will have privileges rather than rights- privileges that will be tenuous and need to be secured constantly. We need to rethink the way we understand nationalism – we want to build up a just nationalism, not an exclusionary one, in which asking for rights is not construed as being against the national interest.”

Colonel Kirti Ranjan Chakma, retired officer, Bangladesh Army stated, “The army was given an absolute authority to control the affairs in the CHT. The political government of Bangladesh is practically powerless to decide anything related to CHT. Continued heavy presence of the army contributes to human rights violations in the entire region. We also hear of the involvement of the Army in backing Bengali settlers in their attempts to grab Indigenous Peoples’ land. For peace to be sustained and prevailed in the CHT, it is necessary that the army should be withdrawn immediately from all temporary camps mounted all over the CHT.”

Both Colonel Chakma and Dr. Dewan emphasized that Jummas are peace-loving people and want to be treated as equal citizens of Bangladesh. They stressed the fact that they were ashamed to come on a world stage and complain about something that is happening in their homeland and in their own country, and urged the government to implement the 1997 Accord.

Chief Wilton Littlechild, Chair of the Peace & Reconciliation Commission of Canada, said, “So long as the sun shines and grass grows and rivers flow, all treaties should be respected, and now these are enshrined in UNDRIP. We support the call of your people for implementation of the CHT Accord-- for demilitarization, resolution of land disputes and full participation of Indigenous Peoples.”

Andrea Carmen, Director, International Indian Treaty Council, said, “We share a common history of common struggles. Our villages were also burnt. You are not alone. US government is a supporter of the Bangladesh military. We will do our best to address your situation, to bring justice and peace.”

Mattias Ahren, President, Saami Council said, “A few years ago I visited CHT. It was beautiful but also sad to see how heavily militarized the area was. The Saami people were also once subject to forced assimilation. We hope your struggle will prevail and soon, and the Saami people show you solidarity.”

Lola Garcia-Alix, Director of IWGIA Secretariat, spoke about her experiences working on Chittagong Hill Tracts issues in the early 1990s. This was the time of the first international attention to human rights violations in the region, which resulted in publication of the landmark study, ‘Life is Not Ours’.

Saiti Louwa, from the El-Molo Women’s Group, Kenya focused on women’s issues: “We are in solidarity and call upon the Bangladesh government to implement the Accord. As women, we are in solidarity with the women of Bangladesh. We do understand the pain of being excluded and marginalized.”

The event was moderated by Dr Aditya Dewan, President of the International Jumma Organization.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Serafina Rape, Suicide: Family under pressure to withdraw case

Source: The Daily Star

Family members of Serafina Mardi, the gang-rape victim who committed suicide after being forced into an out-of-court settlement with the rapists in February, are in fear of a backlash from their religious leaders.

Also the families of the rapists, yet to be detained, are mounting pressure on them to withdraw a case filed against the culprits, Serafina's family members and indigenous leaders said in a press conference at GDRC Auditorium here yesterday.

Raped on April 4 last year, indigenous girl Serafina, 14, daughter of Cornelius Mardi of Amtulipara in Godagari upazila, set herself afire on February 17.

As per the settlement, the community leaders offered her family Tk 1.40 lakh in compensation and decided to marry her off to one of the nine rapists.

As she succumbed to her injuries on February 20, police arrested 10 persons including catholic priest Father Bernard Tudu on charge of provoking the suicide through the settlement.

The arrested also include Bishwanath Tudu who had presided over the settlement.

Later, Serafina's mother Sushana Soren filed another case accusing the nine rapists.

“Villagers seldom talk with us,” Serafina's sister Sabina Mardi said, “as it is widely circulated that if they talk to us they will be declared social outcasts by religious leaders.”

Sushana alleged, “Nobody give us work; I have to go to other villages looking for work. The rapists' parents often threaten us with dire consequences for filing the case.”

In the conference, Jatiya Adibashi Parishad (JAP) President Anil Marandi and General Secretary Rabindranath Soren said the victim's family is unsafe.

An organisation called Uttorbanga Adibashi Forum has been formed only to save the accused, said the JAP leaders. It has held human chains and meetings demanding their release.

The forum's general secretary, Baghbat Tudu, a former catholic priest, is reportedly blamed for several misdeeds including rape.

Despite being a government officer, Benjamin Tudu, son of Biswanath Tudu, participated in a recent meeting with the catholic community leaders demanding release of the “saviours of the rapists”, they said.

Benjamin, research officer of Shilpakala Academy in Sirajganj, said he was looking into the matter as part of his job.

But asked if he was assigned to do research in Rajshahi, he said he came to the district on his own as his father was arrested.

He claimed the complainant was never forced. “My father got involved with the out-of-court settlement when both the complainant and the accused went to him for a solution.”

Baghbat said, “I am not involved with any programme for either releasing the accused or saving the rapists.”

Asked about his involvement with the forum, he said their banner was never used. “They [JAP leaders] say anything they want.”

Hingu Murmu, president of the forum, was not available for comments.

Police arrest 11 for attack on temple, Hindu family

Source: The Daily Star

Police in a drive at Ukiara village on Wednesday night arrested 11 people in connection with the attack on journalists, damage of a temple and houses of a Hindu family there.

The arrestees are Ramzan Ali, Shahin Mia, Gaffar Mia, Habib, Mithu Mia, Amin, Suruzzaman Sentu, Shukur Ali, Chan Mia, Nawsher and Abdul Kuddus of Ukiara and adjacent areas.

Manikganj Police superintendent Md. Masud Karim said the aforesaid 11 were held in connection with Tuesday's incident.

Local AL men evicted a Hindu family by vandalising their houses and temple on Tuesday morning.

They also beat up Biplob Chakrabarty, district correspondent of Bangla daily Shamokal, on that day when he went to the spot to cover the incident.

The ruling party men also assaulted the ATN news team comprising its crime reporter Imran Hossain, camera crew Habibur Rahman Habib and local correspondent Abul Kalam Azad the next day when they went to the spot to collect story.

Villagers said, Gosai Chandra Mandal, a relative of Shyamacharan, and his brother Sharat Mandal have been living in the house for the last 80 years.

The temple was also constructed on their property.

“After the death of Shyamacharan, the house was recorded as vested property. So, Sharat and I submitted an application to the deputy commissioner of Manikganj seeking ownership of the land,” Gosai told this correspondent.

Being rejected by the deputy commissioner's office, the duo filed a writ on January 20 this year with the Manikganj district and sessions judges' court asking for temporary stay order.

Following the writ, the court passed an order asking the deputy commissioner, assistant deputy commissioner (revenue), upazila nirbahi officer, assistant commissioner (land) and union land officer to explain the reasons behind the eviction of Gosai and Sharat.

Local AL men led by district AL religious affairs secretary Israfil Hossain wanted to grab the property in the name of building a hospital, villagers alleged.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Villagers tortured and woman sexually abused by police

Source: Srilanka Gaurdian

by William Gomes

(March 25, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) Police carried out atrocities in revenge of the humiliation of a police officer of Biral Thana in Dinajpur district. The victims included men, women, children and the elderly. They suffered severe injuries and the women victims were sexually molested and abused. The police perpetrators remain unpunished due to the culture of impunity and the absence of legislation to protect the people from torture. The police have filed at least one case against the villagers and are harassing them. To-date no proper investigation has been carried out.

Mr. Lutfor Rahman, chairman of the Forokkabad union council said to Srilanka Guardian that on 8 March 2011, at around 1am a group of plain clothed persons knocked on the door of Mr. Shahjahan in Duptoil village under the jurisdiction of Forokkabad union council of the Birol police station in Dinajpur district. The strangers claimed to be from the police. Shahjahan's family, who were aware of an incident which occurred the previous night when a group of robbers claiming to be police robbed the house their neighbor Mr. Suresh Mohuri, suspected that their house was about to be attacked by robbers in the same manner. The family decided not to open the door mentioning the previous night's robbery. The strangers continued to knock on the door demanding that Shahjahan accompany the "police" to locate the house of Suresh Mohuri. Upon hearing this refusal the strangers, who were actually from the police shouted at the family in abusive language. The family, who were still uncertain of the true identity of the strangers then called to their neighbours on a cell phone that they were afraid of a probable attack by robbers.

The villagers came out of their homes with sticks and bamboos and as they were approaching Shahjahan's house they saw some people running toward a vehicle parked on the road. They chased the suspected robbers, who switched off the headlights of their vehicle after reaching an open place named Sotighata in the middle of their way and stopped there. The vehicle restarted driving and stopped again at Chhetra Bazar, which strengthened the people's suspicion about a potential robbery. A few of the agitated villagers hit one of the fleeing persons with a stick resulting in the person being injured in the head. The villagers then found that the vehicle, which had been parked, belonged to the police and that the group who had knocked on the door of Shahjahan's house were also policemen.

Soon after, the chairman of the local government unit, Forokkabad Union Council, Mr. Lutfor Rahman and Acting Chairman of Birol Upazilla Mr. Md. Anwarul Islam arrived at the scene. Lutfor immediately sent the injured police officer, who was identified as Mr. Md. Haider Ali, Sub Inspector of Birol police station, to Birol hospital by the vehicle of the Upazilla chairman. The public representatives controlled the villagers and helped the rest of the police team comprising of Constables Md. Muzibor Rahaman (Constable ID No. 1048), Mohammad Isreal Haque (Constable ID No. 277) and Driver cum Constable Mohammad Rashedul Huq (Constable Number 268) to leave the village for the Birol police station Said Mr. Lutfor Rahman, chairman of the Forokkabad union council.

Later the same morning, at 9:15am, SI Haider Ali filed a complaint (Case No. 7, dated 8 March 2011) with the Birol police against four named persons and around sixty unidentified villagers under Sections 148, 341, 332, 333, 353, 307 and 34 of the Penal Code-1860. The four persons, who were made accused in the case, are 1) Md. Anwarul Haque Uzzal, 2) Md. Shahjahan Ali, 3) Md. Jewel Islam of Duptoil village, and 4) Md. Mamtaz Ali of Mokhlespur village of the Birol police station.

Meanwhile, three police vehicles carrying two platoons of riot police led by the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) of Sadar Circle Md. Mokbul Hossain, Officer-in-Charge (OC) of Birol police station Mr. A. K. M. Mohsin Uz Zaman Khan arrived in the village. Soon after the Superintendent of Police of Dinajpur district Mr. Siddiquee Tanzilur Rahman joined them.

The police tortured the people including passers-by, farmers, students of the school and college, children, women and the elderly on their way to the village and after arrival in the village. They also sexually molested young girls and women during the attack on the people. The police indiscriminately tortured the visitors in the wedding ceremony of a Muslim family and a child feeding ceremony, as a ritual, of a Hindu family during that period. A large number of people of different ages including women and children have asserted that they were brutally tortured by the police. Local human rights defenders also found marks of injuries caused as a result of police torture on the bodies of the victims.

Mr. Azhar Ali, an elected member of the Forokkabad union council said to Srilanka Guardian that while returning home from his daughter's school he saw one police van and a truck load of police approaching Duptoil village. At one place where the road was not suitable for a bigger vehicle the riot police were taken in a small police van and moved inside the village. The ASP of Sadar Circle Mr. Mokbul Hossain, whom Azhar met on the way, asked Azhar to wait in the local bazar for a discussion with the police regarding the incident of the previous night. Meanwhile, Azhar received information from the villagers that the police started beating people randomly in the village. Immediately, he informed his colleagues of the union council including the chairman Lutfor Rahman and rushed to the scene. When he arrived at the village he saw people running around to and fro in fear of police torture. Three women suggested Azhar not to go inside the village where massive torture was going on. He also witnessed that the SP and ASP were themselves beating people with the sticks in their hands. When he requested the police to stop torturing the people the police turned their attention to Azhar and ill-treated him. He witnessed that the male police were openly molesting young girls and women. Whenever a good-looking girl was found the police molested the girl and said rudely, "This one is for me to marry!" Later, the chairmen of the Birol upazilla and Forokkabad union council arrived at the scene and insisted that the police stop beating people. This was finally done after long aggressive debates with the SP and other police officers.

Mr. Balikanto (28), a day labourer of the village, showed his injury in his left leg, which had bruises and swollen wounds. He stated that he was beaten by the police while he was returning home for food from a field after finishing an irrigation job in the morning.

Mrs. Mina Begum (24), a housewife, reported that her five-year-old daughter, Afia Farzana Tania, was confined in a police cordon and slapped by the officers while the girl was returning home from school. Tania begged the police to release her saying that she was hungry. In response, the police attempted to slap her again and forced her to stay in confinement. Tania's parents were worried about the child as she had not returned home despite the fact that school time was already over. They approached the school and learned that the children left on time for their homes. Then they went to area controlled by the police and found their daughter crying. When her father requested the police to release his daughter they attempted to arrest him. Following the intervention from the public representatives Tania was released after around four hours. Tania has been in a highly nervous state and has developed sleep disturbance and appetite loss since the incidence.

Mr. Shudhangsu Chandra Roy (30), an agricultural labour, was caught by the police from the field where he was working. The police beat him and confined in their cordoned area for hours. When he claimed that he had not engaged in any kind of violence the police threatened to shoot him dead. Shudhangsu remained silent in the custody of the police until he was released in the afternoon, again due to the intervention by the public representatives.

Mr. Niranjan Chandra Roy (16), an agricultural labourer, was also caught from the field by the police. He was beaten about his legs and confined for hours. He sustained bruising to his left knee and leg due to the torture by the police.

Mrs. Basonti Rani Roy (21), a housewife, told that her family arranged the ritual of feeding a child according to the Hindu religion on 8 March 2011. A number of relatives, neighbours and friends were visiting her house as invited guests. Her brother and nephew, who came to participate in the ritual in her house, were arrested by the police. Hearing about this news her husband Hemonto Kumar Roy went to the police, who released the two relatives but tortured and confined Hemonto himself. Hemonto's father Sotin Chandra Roy went to the police to requesting them to release his son so that he could attend the guests at his house. Hemonto's father was also brutally beaten and confined as well. Basonti and all of her relatives then went to the police and demanded the release of her husband and father-in-law and asked why the police tortured and confined them. The police saw Basonti's niece, a beautiful 17-year-old girl, and said, "We will not let this girl to get married elsewhere. This one is for some of us to marry." The male police officers improperly touched various parts of her body despite repeated protests by the girl and the relatives.

Mr. Hemonto Kumar Roy (28), a village doctor, who had a ritual of feeding his child at home, said that the police went to the Muslim neighbourhood first, and then later went to the Hindu neighbourhood. As soon as he told them that he was an inhabitant of the same village they started beating him and then arrested him. The police confined and publically molested a young girl, who was a daughter of his in-laws. The girl was only released when her relatives asked the police to talk to a senior police officer, who happened to be an uncle of the girl.

Mr. Sotin Chandra Roy (55), the father of Hemonto, (mentioned earlier) told that when he learned that the police had arrested his son, Hemonto, he went to request the police to ask them to release his son. Instead, the police tortured him, beating him with sticks all over his body. Sotin showed his the bruises and swollen injuries to legs, thighs, back and right hand. He demanded justice for the humiliation of him in front of his relatives.

Mr. Abdul Wahab (56), a farmer of Duptoil village, told that on the way to his irrigation farm the police stopped him and asked him to describe the incident of the previous night. Wahab told that he heard hue and cry among the villagers shouting: "Robber! Robber!" And later, went to sleep when the sounds disappeared instead of participating in anything as he is an elderly man. He told the police that when he went to offer his early morning prayer he learned from his neighbours that police were beaten the previous night as suspected robbers. The police then took Wahad to another place and started beating him with sticks on his legs and hands. He appealed to the police not to beat him but they police pushed him into a police van, which was driven a few kilometers. Later, in the afternoon, due to intervention by the public representatives he was released from the van and threatened not to disclose to anyone else about what happened to him. Showing the signs of bruising and the swollen areas of his legs and hands Wahab told that he lost his memory after the torture, which was unimaginable at this old age.

Mrs. Shahida Banu (35), wife of Mohammad Shahjahan whose door was knocked on by the police in the previous night, told that the police blamed her family for the attack on the police as it was a suspected robbery. The police searched for her husband and son who were not at home at that time. The police ordered Shahida from her shop, which is adjacent to her house, and tortured her by the order of the SP. The police also tortured Shahida's uncle-in-law, an elderly man, for terming the police as robbers the previous night. The police raided Shahida's house and took away a motorbike. She was confined for hours in the police van and was only released in the afternoon as a result of intervention from the local government representatives.

Mr. Srimonto Chandra Roy (23), a shopkeeper, was stopped by the police when he was driving his motorbike to go to his shop. They beat him with sticks on the legs and back indiscriminately. Due to intervention by the local government leaders he was released but, the police warned that there will be further consequences if the story of torture is shared with anyone else in future.

Mr. Selim Ahmed (17), a college student, stated that he was stopped by the police when he was going to his private tutor's home in the Dinajpur town. The police beat him on the legs and confined him in the police cordon. Later, another policeman allowed him to go considering him a student. Selim showed bruises and marks of police torture when he was interviewed.

Mr. Sumon (27), a farmer of Duptoil village, told that the police called all of the farmers and labourers who were at work in the fields. They asked Sumon and others about the incident of the previous night. As Sumon replied that he did not know anything about the incident the policemen brutally beat him causing bruises and swollen injuries to his legs.

Mr. Lutfor Rahman, chairman of the Forokkabad union council, described the background and the story of torture and sexual violence by the police against the inhabitants of the village in details. He asserted that he witnessed the police beating people and molesting the girls and women. He also told that the SP of Dinajpur district police and the ASP of the Sadar Circle of Dinajpur directly participated in torturing the people randomly, which was also testified to by the victims before the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police of the Rajshahi Range on the following day.

While communicated with the high police officials regarding the matter , police officials denied to talk regarding this matter saying that the matter is under investigation.

Human Rights activist Dipal Barua urged to the authorities of Bangladesh to launch a thorough investigation into the matter asking them to identify the alleged perpetrators and prosecute them for the crime and the blatant misuse of police authority. He also said the victims must be protected from any further attacks or harassment by the police and any fabricated cases by the officers.

Human Rights watchdog Asian Human Right Commission (AHRC) has already written separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment and Violence Against Women calling for their intervention into this matter.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Human rights being violated: Mizanur

Source: The Daily Star

Vested Property Return Act

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman Dr Mizanur Rahman yesterday said the existing vested property return act, since its enactment, has been violating the human rights of minority communities in the country.

The act has created social discrimination and panicked the minorities that they would lose their lands, he said.

Both discrimination and panic are considered effective tool for violation of human rights; so the act should be reviewed to end those disputes permanently, added Rahman.

The NHRC chief was addressing a roundtable on “vested property return (amendment) act” at Cirdap auditorium in the city yesterday.

Noted economist Prof Abul Barakat said around 12-lakh Hindu households have been directly affected by the vested (enemy) property act form 1965 to 2006.

These families have lost their 26-lakh acres of land, he said, adding that the total loss caused by the act can be put at Tk 3,50,412 crore.

The roundtable was jointly organised by the Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD), Bangladesh Hindu-Buddha-Christian Oikkya Parishad, Ain O Shalish Kendra, Nijera Kori, and Human Development Research Centre (HDRC).

Justice Mohammad Gholam Rabbani chaired the function and Rana Das Gupta, general secretary of the Oikkya Parishad, presented the keynote paper.

Sultana Kamal; JSD President Hasanul Haque Inu; Barrister Amirul Islam; Additional AG MK Rahman; and Bangladesh Adivasi Forum general secretary Sanjeeb Drong also spoke.

8 held for temple burglaries

Source: The Daily Star

The four youths, out of the eight, who were arrested by detectives yesterday in connection with the burglaries in Dhakeshwari Mandir and Sutrapur Kali Mandir in the city recently. Photo: STAR

The Detective Brach (DB) of police has arrested eight persons in the last five days in connection with thefts at the capital's Dhakeswari and Kali temples.

The detainees include alleged leader of the gang Garibullah alias Aslam, 24, Mohammad Monir, 25, Monir Hossain, 27, Mohammad Selim, 35, Shahid Jamal, 34, and Chandu, 30. The identities of the rest two could not be known immediately.

In the early hours of January 9, gold ornaments of around 200 tolas and Tk 4.5 lakh were stolen from Dhakeswari Temple, while over 100 tolas of gold ornaments were looted from Sutrapur Kali Temple on December 22 last year.

DB Inspector Ashraf Hossain, who conducted the drives, told The Daily Star that five of the arrestees Garibullah, Md Monir, Monir Hossain, Selim and Jamal were each placed on five days' remand yesterday.

According to the DB inspector the five placed on remand were directly involved in the thefts while the other three in dealing and selling the gold ornaments.

He said, “Garibullah admitted that led by him the gang stole from Dhakeswari and Kali temples and other temples in and around the capital. However, most of the looted ornaments were sold in the black market.”

On information that a gang of thieves who were sent to Narayanganj jail allegedly for looting a temple in Munshiganj continued robbing temples after obtaining bail, DB officials headed for Narayanganj and found two of the gang members Garibullah and Md Monir still in jail. The officials brought the two to the DB headquarters for interrogation, said a DMP press release.

Based on the information gleaned from the two, DB police recovered some gold ornaments and other stolen items from Munshiganj and Narayanganj and arrested Monir Hossain at Raipur of Laxmipur district, said the press release.

DB officials also recovered 11 broken locks of Dhakeswari Temple from the roof of a nearby workshop upon Garibullah's information.

Replying to a query, the DB inspector said, “The gang targeted temples as those are less secured and offer minimum risk.”

Nirnal Chatterjee, joint secretary of Mahanagar Sarbojanin Puja Committee, said they have heard about the arrest and the recovery.

He demanded fair investigation into the mysterious incidents of burglary at 23 temples across the country in the last two months.

Human rights denied for ethnic and religious minorities in Bangladesh

Source: Catholic News

Dacca (Agenzia Fides) – Living conditions for ethnic and religious minorities in Bangladesh are very difficult and their human rights are continually denied and trampled on, states the Hotline Human Rights Bangladesh” (HHRB) to Fides. The HHRB was established with the support of the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Bengalese Bishops, as a radar to monitor respect for human rights.

A recent assembly held in Dhaka, organised in collaboration with the “Resource Centre for Christian Youth in Bangladesh”, sounded the alarm that ethnic and religious minority groups - including Hindu, Buddhist and Christian communities – suffer daily discrimination, abuse and violence from other Muslim citizens (a large majority in the country), and even from police officers and public administration.

According to the framework outlined by to Fides by the HHRB, minorities are often unduly defrauded of the land they have cultivated or houses they have lived in for centuries; women suffer rapes, kidnappings, forced conversions and marriages; the non-Muslim citizens are discriminated against in seeking work and education. “Their basic human rights are openly and continuously violated and no one intervenes,” notes the organisation.

The more than 100 participants at the meeting, from different districts, shared their common difficulties, also recalling abuses by police or government officers. For this they ask the Government that all Bangladeshi citizens, from any ethnic or religious group, enjoy equal rights and equal opportunities, that they stop the oppression and discrimination that “relegates non-Muslims to second-class citizens.”

In Bangladesh, of a population of about 165 million people, Muslims are more than 85%, 10% are Hindus, Buddhists 0.6%, and Christians 0.3%. Among the tribal minorities, the main ethnic groups are the Oroun and the Santal. The minorities, not given consideration or coverage in any way by the Constitution, have little chance of development and emancipation. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 21/2/2011)

Bangladesh: Violent Muslim dispossession of minorities' land

Source: Spero News

A village in Bangladesh was burned down and dozens of indigenous people have been injured and driven from Ragipara in the mountain district of Rangamati. According to sources at the Catholic Diocese of Chittagong, Buddhist, Hindu and Christian ethnic minorities were beset by Muslim marauders over the last week.

According to the Commission for Justice and Peace operated by Bangladeshi Christians, more than 300 Muslim settlers on February 17 dispossessed the indigenous villagers and seized their crop land. The Muslim settlers were backed by local police who legitimized the violence. Other cases like this (of attacks on tribal members and private land) have been recorded in recent days in the area of Gulishakhali. The Muslims settlers subjected their indigenous neighbors to the dispossession under the pretext of revenge, following the still unresolved death of Ali Saber - a Muslim found death in Ragiparam.

Rampaging Muslims then entered the non-Muslim village. According to an eyewitness, "They set fire to our homes and our small shops.” An attorney for the dispossessed indigenous people, King Devasish Roy, wrote an open letter to the civil authorities and to the National Commission for Human Rights for Bangladesh, reporting the incident and noting “the complicity of the police.” The letter called for an investigation into the incident in Ragipara including the identification and punishment of the guilty, urging the Government to protect and safeguard the rights of citizens, members of ethnic or religious minorities.

Living conditions for ethnic and religious minorities in Bangladesh are very difficult and their human rights are continually denied and trampled on, states the Hotline Human Rights Bangladesh” (HHRB). The HHRB was established with the support of the Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic bishops of Bengal, as a monitor of human rights. A recent assembly held in Dhaka, organised in collaboration with the “Resource Centre for Christian Youth in Bangladesh”, sounded the alarm that ethnic and religious minority groups - including Hindu, Buddhist and Christian communities – suffer daily discrimination, abuse and violence from other Muslim citizens (a large majority in the country), and even from police officers and public administration.

According to the framework outlined by HHRB, minorities are often unduly defrauded of the land they have cultivated or houses they have lived in for centuries; women suffer rapes, kidnappings, forced conversions and marriages; the non-Muslim citizens are discriminated against in seeking work and education. “Their basic human rights are openly and continuously violated and no one intervenes,” notes the organisation.

The more than 100 participants at the meeting, from different districts, shared their common difficulties, also recalling abuses by police or government officers. For this they ask the Government that all Bangladeshi citizens, from any ethnic or religious group, enjoy equal rights and equal opportunities, that they stop the oppression and discrimination that “relegates non-Muslims to second-class citizens.”

In Bangladesh, of a population of about 165 million people, Muslims are more than 85%, 10% are Hindus, Buddhists 0.6%, and Christians 0.3%. Among the tribal minorities, the main ethnic groups are the Oroun and the Santal. The minorities, not given consideration or coverage in any way by the Constitution, have little chance of development and emancipation.

Source: FIDES

Friday, February 18, 2011

Massive communal attack on Jumma villages by Bengali settlers with the support of security forces in Longadu

Source: PCJSS

23 houses burnt to ashes, 2 injured

On 17 February 2011 around 5.30 pm, following the death of a Bengali settler, the Bengali settlers numbering 200-250 from Gulshakhali settler area of Gulshakhali union under Longadu upazila in Rangamati district in collaboration with Border Guard of Bangladesh (BGB) (formerly BDR) made a massive communal attack on Jumma villages of Gulshakhali and Rangi Para areas. It is learnt that at least 23 houses of Jumma villagers including one BRAC school were reportedly burnt to ashes in the attack while two Jumma students were seriously injured in another attack made at Tintilya launchghat in Longadu at noon.

It is learnt that on 15 February 2011 in the morning two Bengali settlers named Md. Saber Ali (33) s/o Nehat Ali and Md. Sahid (35) s/o Julya Pagala from settler’s village- Rahamatpur of Gulshakhali union went to nearby jungle of Gulshakhali area to collect flower-broom (a kind of natural broom). Of them, Md. Sahid returned to home, however, Md. Saber Ali went missing. On 16 February 2011 around 10.00 am police and BGB recovered dead body of Saber Ali from Rangi Para area and brought it to police station of Longadu headquarter at 3:00 pm.

It is learnt that Saber Ali was suffering from epilepsy. So, locals including the administration guessed that Saber Ali might die due his illness. Witnesses also confirmed that no injury was found on dead body. However, in the evening time around 5.30 pm, Bengali settlers spread communal tension alleging Jumma villagers responsible for the death of Saber Ali and brought out processions separately at Gulshakhali bazar and Choumuhani bazar. Bengali settlers also brought out another procession at Longadu headquarter area at night about 12.00 pm.

On 17 February 2011 the Bengali settlers again began to spread communal agitation in the areas since morning. At a stage, at 11:00 am the Bengali settlers led by Khalilur Rahaman Khan, president of Bangalee Student Council and one Abdur Rahim (journalist) brought out a procession at Longadu headquarter. Police and local administration did nothing to stop spreading communal tension. No sooner ending of procession, at about 1.00 pm, two Jumma passengers (students) who came from Rangamati by a launch were attacked by Bengali settlers at Tintilyaghat of Longadu headquarter. They (Jumma students) were severely injured. They were identified as-

(1) Mr. Apolo Chakma (20) s/o Mono Ranjan Chakma of Sijakmukh area of Baghaichari upazila

(2) Mr. Mangal Moy Chakma (15) s/o Daya Mohan Chakma of Simana Para of Barkal upazila

Later, the injured students were admitted to Rangamati general hospital.

Afterwards, at about 5:00 pm the Bengali settlers again began to gather and at a stage with a group numbering 200-250 made attack on Jumma villages and set fire to the Jumma houses one after another. In the attack, at least 23 Jumma houses including one BRAC school were burnt to ashes. The BGB did nothing to stop the Bengali settlers from setting fire on Jumma houses.

Bengali settlers first set fire on the houses of Sukra Chakma and Amiya Kanti Chakma of Rangi Para. Then Jumma villagers gathered themselves and tried to defend the remaining houses and facing off the settlers. Jumma leaders also informed the local administration including police. However, no action was taken by the administration to stop Bengali settlers from attack.

On the other, a group of BGB of Rangipara Tematha camp led by Habildar Jahangir under Rajnagar BGB zone rushed there at that time and Bengali settlers increased their attack soon after arrival of BGB personnel.

Bengali settlers then proceeded to Gulshakhali village and set fire on Jumma houses indiscriminately. Jumma villagers alleged that BGB personnel supported the Bengali settlers while setting fire to the Jumma houses. Till 7.00 pm on 17 February Bengali settlers burnt down at least 23 houses of Jumma villagers in two villages (Please find the attachment for detailed list of houses burnt to ashes).

Besides, a BRAC school was burnt to ashes and 45 pieces of CIT sheets that was stored by UNICEP for building a school were looted.

The culprits and miscreants who led and made the Bengali settlers to attack and setting fire on Jumma villages were identified as follows:

(1) Wajed Ali, Chairman of Bagachatar union;

(2) Rahim, Chairman of Gulshakhali union;

(3) Amir Hossain Molla (55) s/o unknown of village- Boiragi bazar of Bagachatar union;

(4) Samsu Sardar (55) s/o unknown of Thegapara of Bagachatar union;

(5) Mannan Sardar (50) s/o unknown of Rangipara of Bagachatar union;

(6) Salauddin (30) s/o unknown of Rangipara of Bagachatar union.

It is mentionable that the Bengali settlers who were brought from plain lands and settled down at Gulshakhali, Bogachadar and Kalapagujya areas under Longadu upazila in 1980s have been trying to grab the lands of Jumma people. As a part of this attempt, on 21 December 2010 the Bengali settlers made attack on Jumma village of Shanti Nagar and inhumanly beat 14 Jumma villagers and ransacked 5 houses motivatedly alleging Jumma villagers to beat a Bengali settler who went to jungle to collect firewood.

It is suspected that Saber Ali might be killed by Bengali settlers to create lame excuse for making attack on Jumma peoples. Bengali settlers fabricatedly spread that there were several injuries on dead body. However, a doctor, who made dead body post-mortem and wished not to be named, said that no injury was found.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Indigenous rights groups demand consultation with IPOs in enacting the Forest Act and Wildlife Act

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

On 25 January 2011 indigenous rights organisations namely CHT Citizens’ Committee, CHT Forest and Land Rights Protection Movement, CHT Headmen Networks and Kapaeeng Foundation submitted memorandum to the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment and Forest Ministry through Deputy Commissioner of Rangamati hill district demanding consultation by the government with indigenous peoples including their organisations and CHT Regional Council and Hill District Councils before passage of these Acts in the parliament. The memorandum was signed by 21 indigenous leaders from different organisations.

Indigenous rights organisations also organised press conference at Hotel Roof in Rangamati demanding the same. Mr. Goutam Dewan from CHT Citizens’ Committee, Mr. Sudatta Bikash Tanchangya from CHT Forest and Land Rights Protection Movement, Mr. Swdesh Priti Chakma from CHT Headmen Networks and Mr. Udvasan Chakma from Kapaeeng Foundation were present in the press conference. Mr. Sudatta B Tanchangya read out the press statement of the four organisations.

It is mentionable that Government of Bangladesh drafted proposal of further amendment of Forest Act-1927 and enactment of Wildlife (Preservation) Act 2010 canceling the Wildlife (Preservation) Act 1973 and planned to pass these Acts during ongoing parliamentary session. However, though indigenous peoples are stakeholder of these Acts, but no consultation with indigenous peoples is made by the government.

An indigenous housewife raped by a group of Bengali settlers in Khagrachari

Source: Kapaeeng Foundation

On 26 January 2011 at mid-night an indigenous mother of 4 small children was raped by a group of unscrupulous miscreants at Porabari village of Taindong union under Matiranga sub-district in Khagrachari district.

It was learnt that at around 2 a.m., a group of 8/10 Bengali settlers led by Suruj Mian, Babul Mian and Babul’s younger brother from Muslim Para village went to rob Nityaranjan Tripura’s house at Porabari village. When Nityaranjan came to know about the robbers, he shouted out. But, soon after that, the goons tied him up at a corner in the house and raped his wife (35) one after another before him. Nityaranjan blamed that the miscreants took Tk. 16,000 cash, gold chain and all other valuables (including land documents) away from his house. Since then, the miscreants have been threatening the victim’s family to kill all of them if they would lodge any case against the miscreants.

On 28 January, a case was filed against the miscreants with Matiranga police station (Case No.-05) despite death threat. However, miscreants are yet to be arrested by the police. It was learnt that the victim was taken into Khagrachari Sadar Hospital for health checkup at around 3:00 p.m. on Friday.

Protesting this incident, Chittagong Hill Tracts Hill Students’ Council (PCP) and Bangladesh Indigenous Students’ Action Forum (BISAF) jointly brought out a protest demonstration at Dhaka University Campus ton 29 January 2011.

PCJSS demands amendment of LC Act during ongoing winter session of Parliament

Source: PCJSS

PCJSS organised public meeting, procession and submission of memorandum to the Prime Minister demanding amendment of CHT Land Dispute Commission Act 2001 as per CHT Accord and recommendation of CHT Regional Council during the ongoing winter session of Jatiya Sangsad (national parliament) and appointment of a competent person to the post of Chairmanship of Land Commission removing present Chairman retired justice Khademul Islam Chowdhury.

On 23 January 2011 PCJSS organised public meeting and procession at district and upazila (sub-district) level through out the CHT region and submission of memorandum to the Prime Minister through concerned Deputy Commissioner and Upazila Executive Officer.

Again, on 25 January 2011 PCJSS also organised public meeting and procession at Muktangan in Dhaka. Presided by organising secretary of PCJSS Mr. Shaktipada Tripura, Presidium Member of Gono Forum Mr. Pankaj Bhattachariya, presidium member of Workers’ Party of Bangladesh Md. Fazle Hossain Badshah MP, central member of BASAD Mr. Bazlur Rashid, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum Mr. Sanjeeb Drong, general secretary of Jatiya Adivasi Parishad Mr. Rabindranath Soren, general secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Chhatra Sangram Parishad Mr. Batayan Chakma, president of PCP of Dhaka city unit Mr. Presenjit Chowdhury Sunny and president of Jatiya Adivasi Chhatra Parishad Harendranath Sing et el. Besides, general secretary of Workers’ Party of Bangladesh Mr. Anisur Rahman Mollick and central member of BASAD Mr. Rajekkujaman Ratan were present in the public meeting.

On the other, on 24 January 2011 human chain was organised by the indigenous people under the banner of the people from all walks of life in Khagrachari. They also submitted memorandum to Prime Minister through DC of Khagrachari. Besides, on 23 January 2011 CHT Citizens’ Committee, CHT Forest and Land Rights Protection Movement and CHT chapter of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum also participated in the human chain in Bandarban and submitted memorandum to the Prime Minister demanding the same.

It is mentionable that on 12 July 2001, just the day before the handing over charge to the Caretaker government, then Awami league government hurriedly passed the “CHT Land (Disputes Settlement) Commission Act 2001” in the parliament without taking into account the advice and recommendations given by the CHTRC. As a result, so many provisions crept into the Act which were contradictory to the CHT Accord and detrimental to the interest of the Jumma people. CHTRC sent recommendations to the government for amendment to the contradictory provisions of the CHT Land Commission Act 2001.

The inter-ministerial meeting held on 10 October 2010 in Rangamati presided over by Land Minister Rezaul Karim Hira decided to amend the LC Act as per recommendations of CHTRC. Further, 3rd meeting of CHT Accord Implementation Committee held on 26 December 2010 in Khagrachari adopted a decision to amend the Act in the next parliamentary session and then to start hearing of land dispute in CHT. Though winter session of Jatiya Sangsad has started from 25 January 2011, but no initiative for amendment of the Land Commission Act has been taken by government so far.

The present grand alliance government led by Awami League appointed retired Justice Khademul Islam as the chairman of the Land Commission in July 2009. After assuming in the office, Mr. Khademul Islam started in a dramatic fashion. He undertook a lightning tour of the three hill districts and convened meeting of the Commission for exchange of views. He used the Deputy Commissioners of the three hill district to issue letter calling upon the members to attend the meeting which was totally irregular. As the DCs are nobody of the Commission. On the other, the chairman of the Commission unilaterally declared to conduct land survey in the CHT without a decision to that effect in any of the meetings. However, CHT Accord provides to conduct survey after resolution of land dispute, rehabilitation of returnee Jumma refugees and internally Jumma displaced persons.

Despite the huge protest from the all sections of the citizens including CHTRC and PCJSS and also three circle chiefs, the Chairman of the Commission justice Khademul Islam Chowdhury continues his unilateral and controversial activities. In mid-July 2010 the secretary of Land Commission issued a notice to the CHT Affairs Ministry and Land Ministry to conduct cadastral survey in CHT soon; otherwise the ministries would be charged non-compliance with court order.

In addition, Mr. Chowdhury also unilaterally declared to start hearing of dispute from 27 December 2010 without discussion of members of the Commission.

With this backdrop, indigenous peoples and civic groups of the country have been demanding removal of justice Khademul Islam Chowdhury from the chairmanship of CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission.