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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.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Innocent Jumma villagers attacked by Bengali settlers in Longadu 2 Jummas injured, 12 beaten, 5 houses ransacked On 21 December 2010, innocent Jumma

Source: PCJSS

2 Jummas injured, 12 beaten, 5 houses ransacked

On 21 December 2010, innocent Jumma villagers of Shantinagar of Gulshakhali union under Longadu upazila (sub-district) of Rangamati hill district were attacked by a group of Bengali settlers from nearby Bengali settler areas. In this communal attack, 2 Jummas were injured, 12 were beaten and 5 houses were ransacked.
It is learnt that on that day early in the morning a group of Bengali settlers went to a nearby area belongs to Jumma villager to collect wood and bamboo. The Jumma villagers opposed them to collect wood and bamboo from their land and at a stage Jumma villagers beat one Bengali settler named Md. Imtaz (25) of village- Choumuhani area of Gulshakhali union. However, he could return to his home almost safely. But, soon after coming back home, he rapidly spread the news of the incident and tried to make the Bengali settlers agitated.
Around 12:00 to 1:00 pm a group of Bengali settlers numbering 33-35 equipped with sharp weapons made the communal attack on Jumma area of village- Shantinagar. In the attack, following 12 Jumma villagers were detained and beaten severely by the attackers:
(1) Mr. Dhak Badhi Chakma (25) s/o Dal mohan Chakma of village- Shantinagar;

(2) Mr. Binay Chandra Chakma Maratto (40) s/o Dal Mohan Chakma of village- do;

(3) Mr. Milan Chakma (30) s/o unknown of village- do;

(4) Mr. Ripan Chakm (25) s/o unknown of village- do;

(5) Mr. Samarpan Dewan (20) s/o Banu Dipak Dewan of village- do;

(6) Mr. Karun Chakma (37) s/o unknown of village- do;

(7) Mr. Bawm Chakma (43) s/o unknown of village- do;

(8) Mr. Himel Chakma (18) s/o Bivishon Chakma of village- do;

(9) Mr. Subha Shanti Chakma (23) s/o Bawm Chakma of village- do;

(10) Mr. Palash Chakma (18) s/o Mahendra Chakma of village- do;

(11) Mr. Riten Chakma s/o Rasik Mohan Chakma of village- do;

(12) Mr. Suman Chakma s/o Reboti Mohan Chakma of village- do.

Of the above victims, Mr. Dhak Badhi Chakma (25) and Mr. Binay Chandra Chakma Maratto (40) were injured severely and admitted to Longadu hospital. Besides, in the attack, the Bengali settlers ransacked following 5 houses:
(1) Mr. Barun Kumar Chakma s/o Sonaram Chakma;

(2) Mr. Raj Mohan Chakma s/o unknown;

(3) Mr. Kala Chiji Chakma s/o unknown;

(4) Mr. Bimal Shanti Chakma s/o unknown;

(5) Mr. Binay Chandra Chakma s/o Dal Mohan Chakma.

It is learnt that the following two persons led the whole attack:
(1) Mr. Abu Hanif (45), village- Juba Laxmi Para, member of No. 9 ward of Gulshakhali union council;

(2) Mr. Rufijuddin (40) s/o Khalekh, Member of No. 8 Rahamatpur ward of Gulshakhali union council.

It is learnt that BDR personnel of Raj Nagar camp did not oppose Bengali settlers while settlers were going to attack on Jumma villagers. At a stage, a group of BDR led by Lt. Colonel Habib with Major Aminul of BDR went there and saved the Jumma villagers from being beaten.
Later, an emergency meeting was arranged with the leaders concerned led by Lt. Colonel Habib and UNO. Mr. Sukhamoy Chakma, ex-UP Chairman, Mr. Premlal Chakma, President of Headman Association of Longadu, Mr. Moni Sankar Chakma, President of Juba Samiti of Longadu also attended the meeting on behalf of the Jumma community. In the meeting, the following decisions were made:
(1) A co-ordination meeting will be held on next 23 December 2010 in this regard;

(2) In the meantime, no Bengali person will be allowed to go to Jumma areas and no Jumma person will be allowed to go to Bengali areas without permission of the Zone Headquarter Commander Lt. Colonel Habib.

It is learnt that (1) Md. Abdur Rahim, general secretary of Longadu upazila Awami League, (2) Md. Halim, acting Headman of Gulshakhali mouza (Awami League leader) and (3) Abu Taleb, acting chairman of Gulshakhali union and also BNP leader was the main instigator and conspirator behind this entire communal provocation.
Further tension and gathering to attack
Though, it was a decision to hold a co-ordination meeting on 23 December 2010, the meeting was postponed and again determined to hold on 27 December 2010. In the meantime, on 24 December 2010 in the evening, the Bengali settlers again tried to create tension and make attack on nearby Jumma villagers of Shanti Nagar village. The Bengali settlers even gathered and proceeded towards the Jumma village. Jumma villagers also tried to gather in order to oppose the opponent. In this circumstance, Jumma leaders then informed UNO of the fact and requested to take urgent measure. Then, a group of BDR rushed to the spot and stopped the settlers and made them come back.
New BDR camp set up on Jumma land
Following the communal tension, on 23 December 2010 BDR set up a camp at middle place in between the Bengali settler village and Jumma village and a group of BDR numbering 30-32 of Raj Nagar BDR zone headquarter took their position there. BDR also cleared the bushes around the newly built camp that almost covers 5-6 acres of land. It is mentionable that the camp was set up on land belongs to two Jumma villagers with due records. BDR constructed the camp occupying a BRAC school and 2 houses of Jummas. The owners of the land are as follows:
(1) Santosh Chakma (35) s/o Bhulsing Chakma, village- Gyana Ratan Karbari Para, Shanti Nagar; case number of his land is 953.

(2) Sharat Chandra Chakma (38) s/o Madan Kumar Chakma, village- do; case number of his land is 1485.

(3) Mr. Nabin Kumar Chakma s/o Bhulsing Chakma, village- Gyana Ratan Karbari Para, Shanti Nagar

(4) Mr. Shanti Moni Chakma s/o Remesh Chandra, village- Gyana Ratan Karbari Para, Shanti Nagar, case no. of his land is 821

Jumma’s land grabbed by Bengali settlers
Following the attack, Bengali settlers led by Raju Khalifa (Rajnagar), Ramdan (VDR Nayek) and Alal (Rajnagar) have been trying to grab at least 30 acres of lands belong to 10 Jumma villagers. It is mentionable that Jumma villagers have been cultivating these lands for decades. Jumma villagers put objection to the BDR camp authority and local administration, but no action has been taken so far. If the land grabbing is continued, then 10 villages of 800 families numbering 8,000 Jummas will be uprooted from this area.
The owners of the lands whose lands have being tried to occupy by Bengali settlers-
1. Anil Chakma (25) s/o Maya Ranjan Chakma of Chato Malya

2. Sharat Kumar Chakma (35) s/o Thakur Chakma of Chato Malya

3. Sonadhan Chakma (35) s/o Ekanya Chakma of Chato Malya

4. Birbahu Chakma (45) s/o Indrajoy Chakma of Chato Malya

5. Sushil Kumar Chakma (50) s/o Sidalya Chakma of Chato Malya

6. Anil Chakma (45) s/o Batya Chakma of Chato Malya

7. Shambumoni Chakma (50) s/o late Sida Chakma of Chato Malya

8. Dayal Chakma (40) s/o Surendra Chakma of Chato Malya

9. Sura Lal Chakma (45) s/o Nalini Mohan Chakma of Chato Malya

10. Debendra Chakma (35) s/o Ramani Mohan Chakma of Chato Malya.

Source: PCJSS
(Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

PM's intervention sought to amend Vested Property Return Act-2001

Source: The Financial Express

Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Oikya Parisad Wednesday sought Prime Minister's intervention for further amendment to the proposed bill on Vested Property Return Act, 2001, reports BSS.

"The new proposed bill tabled in the Jatiya Sangsad on December 7, 2010 is not at all acceptable to us as it is more anti-people than the previous proposed bill," said Advocate Subrata Chowdhury, one of the presidium members of the Parisad, while addressing a press conference held at the city's Dhaka Reporters’ Unity.

He alleged that a vested quarter was engaged to foil the entire process to enact new law to settle the issue forever.

"We still believe that the PM wants to resolve the problem considering the seven-point unanimous proposal placed by the Parisad, but an interested quarter is continuously obstructing the move with ill motives," Mr Chowdhury added.

He said the PM has asked to send the bill to the Standing Committee on land ministry to make it acceptable by bringing necessary amendments.

"We are eagerly waiting and also appealing to the persons concerned to amend the bill in the light of seven points unanimous proposal," he urged.

Leaders of the Parisad Anil Chandra Nath, CR Sarker, Joyanta Deb, Tapas Paul, Milan Dutta and Nirmal Chattarjee were, among others, present on the occasion.

Activists skeptical over human rights warning

Source: UCA NEWS

Activists skeptical over human rights warning thumbnail
Sheikh Hasina urges Bangladesh police to show ‘highest professionalism’

Activists welcomed a warning by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to law enforcers to avoid human rights violations but expressed doubt about any improvement.

“You are the friends of the people. So, remain sincere to your duty towards them. Show your highest professionalism,” the premier told senior police officials at her office yesterday.

The meeting took place as part of a Jan. 4-10 national police week program.

Noting out that police earnings come from peoples’ taxes, Sheikh Hasina reminded the officers of their responsibility to earn their confidence through working honestly and sincerely.

“Ensure human rights while operating the drive against crimes, terrorism and militancy,” she told the officers.

However, rights activists said they were doubtful after the German-based watchdog Transparency International branded Bangladeshi police as one the most corrupt institutions in the country

Human rights groups also accused police of indiscriminate human rights violation.

“I’m glad to hear of the Prime Minister’s concerns but I doubt that they (police) will do things properly,” said Rosaline Costa, coordinator of Hotline Human Rights Bangladesh.

“Poor people, especially minorities are often deprived of their rights. Only about 5 percent cases of human rights violation are properly dealt with and solved,” Costa noted.

However, the government is now more careful on human rights issues and Bangladesh’s emerging media is playing a vital role, she added.

“The government needs to be totally secular-minded to establish justice and human rights,” she said.

Sanjeeb Drong, a Garo Catholic and general secretary of Bangladesh Indigenous People’s Forum said that while it was pleasing to see the government taking steps to ensure human rights, it needed to do more.

“We don’t have standard democracy in the country. So, people’s rights are violated, mostly of minorities,” Drong told ucanews. com .

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Minority girl stabbed by stalker in presence of father

Source: The Daily Star

Yet another victim of stalking, 20-year-old Mita Dev, was stabbed in the face by her frenzied stalker yesterday afternoon in city's Gendaria while she was going home from work with her father.

Mita, a second year honours student of Government Kabi Nazrul Islam College, is also employed at the National Medical College Hospital (NMCH) in the ultra sonogram section.

According to sources, stalker Jamie Ahmed Mishuk along with one Asif waylaid their rickshaw around 2:00pm at Okkhoy Das Lane and assaulted Mita and her father.

He swooped on her with a knife leaving three deep gashes on her forehead and cheeks before fleeing the scene.

Mita was rushed to NMCH where she is currently undergoing treatment.

Mishuk, a cousin of her classmate Belayet, had been stalking her for the last 18 months, Mita told The Daily Star lying on her hospital bed. On some days he used to call her around 200 times, she claimed.

She used to work as a telephone operator in NMCH but the hospital authorities shifted her to another section to relieve her of hearing the repeated threats made by Mishuk, a tearful Mita said.

She changed her mobile phone at least nine times but he somehow got hold of her new numbers, she added.

Nirmal Karmakar, her brother-in-law, said Mishuk's family even sent him off to Singapore seven months ago to cure him of his obsession but it was of no use. He continued badgering her with his calls and never stopped even for a day, he said.

When he returned to Dhaka last week the frequency and intensity of his threats increased, Mita said.

“He said if I did not agree to marry him he would pour acid on me and kill my entire family,” she cried while talking to The Daily Star.

Since then, her father Nepal Chandra Dev, a retired NGO official, started escorting her every time she went outside her home.

Faruk Ahmed officer-in-charge of Gendaria Police Station, said they were trying to arrest Mishuk and the accomplice. Mita's mother, Rekha Rani, a former deputy director of Bangladesh Bank filed a case in this connection accusing Mishuk and his friend Asif.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Whither Minority Rights in Bangladesh?

Source: Asia Tribune

By Rabindranath Trivedi

The exodus of Hindus from East Bengal to India continued throughout the existence of Pakistan. Many Hindu Bengalis left for Calcutta after partition. Up to 1971 before the war of liberation begun over 5.3 million Hindus had sought refuge in India, mostly in West Bengal and Bangladesh surrounding states between the periods of August 1947 and 24 March 1971.

But the exodus of Hindus from East Bengal to India in 1971 was of different, the Hindus, in order to crush the Bengali nationalist movement, were targets of the Pakistan army. The Hindus as a class were to be eliminated. After 25 March till December 1971, Ten million Bengali refugees were stranded in inhuman, pitiable conditions in 825 Indian camps across the border in West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh .

It appeared that Yahya Khan hoped to kill two birds with one stone by creating the refugee issue. By getting rid of the Awami Leaguers and Hindus whom Yahya termed 'secessionists' and who voted massively for Sheikh Mujib, he was aiming to consolidate Pakistan as an Islamic State.

At the same time Yahya was hoping to ruin the social and economic fabric of the eastern part of India, which was in bad shape, by inflicting staggering numbers of refugees on it. The population of Hindu minority has declined from 15% (1974) to 10% (2001). Our former Hindu leaders and generation in East Bengal began their life in the peculiar political environment of communal hatred, distrust and disgrace.

The Hindu leadership in the Constitutional Assembly in Feb.1948 conceived the historic State-Language issue. It was the Hindu Leadership (1947-54) as the Leader and member of the opposition led the nation in the definitive direction to the constitution, parliament and democracy. Hindu Leadership had abandoned the separate electorate system and their advocacy for the joint electoral system was a milestone in our national history. If there were no joint electoral system in 1970, Bangladesh would not have her genesis as a Republic in 1971.

In Bangladesh, the Hindu minority becomes the coveted enemy under Vested Property Act. Many believed that the agony of the Hindus would be over and they would regain their lost honour with the liberation of Bangladesh in December 1971.

It was entirely a mistaken notion. By and large, the successive Governments in liberated Bangladesh have followed the same policy as was pursued and practiced by Pakistan towards her Hindu and other minorities. So, we are to think over the issue meticulously and should sort out rationally for ameliorating the grievances of the minorities in Bangladesh.

After August 1975, the process of Islamisation during General Zia and Ershad regimes in Bangladesh renewed the flow of minorities due to unequal application of Law, humiliation, discrimination in service and violation of human rights. The fate of the minorities remains under the same wheels even in 2010. The crux of the problem is the Eighth Amendment, whereby Gen. H.M. Ershad converted the country into an Islamic Republic and made Islam the State Religion. Another Black Law is the Enemy (now Vested) Property Act of 1965, which remains on the statute book and is being miss-used to confiscate the property of Hindus.

This is a key reason for the continuous migration of Hindus from the country. Therefore, what we are sincerely demanding is the restoration of the Constitution of 1972, a Minority Rights Commission, and freedom of religion with the removal of Islam as State Religion, and a crackdown on the incidents of human trafficking.

Dr Akbar Ali Khan opined: “If Islam is considered as an essential component of Bangladeshi Nationalism, the role of the minority community in the political life of Bangladesh needs to be delineated. Total Hindu population in Bangladesh exceeds the population of Muslim majority countries like Yemen Republic, Jordan, Tajikistan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Oman etc. Politicians in Bangladesh must, therefore, come to grips with this inescapable reality.”(Dr Akbar Ali Khan, Discovery of Bangladesh: Explorations into Dynamics of a Hidden Nation, U P L, P151-52).

Bangladesh is second largest Hindu populated country in the world. They need reservation through Constitutional proviso. They want empowerment and social justice as equal citizens of the Republic. For this, representation of the minority communities in the registration of parties and voters must be ensured. The justice and electoral system must work equally for those in the mainstream as well as for those say for example, in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. A failure to do so would result in making the same mistakes that we have been making since the birth of this nation i.e. failing to place justice at the core of our nation-building efforts. Abdul Gaffer Chowdhury , a senior columnist, rightly said that " Bangladeshi " means the Muslim citizens of the land others like Hindu, Buddhists ,Christians and tribal origins are align citizens, they would be absorbed in the majority community by conversion or make them compelled to leave

So the Awami League government’s planning to restore 'secularism', one of the four original principles of state policy, in its constitution and will also retain the Quranic expression ‘bismillah’ without recognizing other religions would be a great bluff and theocratic design in the name of democracy and rule of law and human rights. M J Akbar opined:’ Islam did not make Pakistan a natural democracy; nor did Hinduism turn Nepal into one. Buddhism has not ensured democracy in Burma; its generals bow their head while greeting and still remain autocrats in uniform. Indian Muslims are the only Muslims in the world to have enjoyed more than five decades of uninterrupted, unconditional, adult franchise democracy. They, a section of Muslims, remain marginalised economically, but the polity has empowered them vigorously.

India is unique because of the ideology that won it freedom from the British: a commitment to multi-cultural equality and a celebration of the unequivocal rights of individual and collective. (The New Nation, 18 Dec. 2007) The Hindus in Bangladesh participated in the Liberation War and sacrificed a lot for Bangladesh with the expectation that in the newly liberated country, nation-state Bangladesh, they would enjoy equal status and rights along with the majority Muslim community. The sacrifices of the Hindu leadership were never acknowledged either officially or publicly. Moreover, In Bangladesh, Bengali, Hindu and India are equated with a typical psyche by the ruling cliché.

We have witnessed various periods of military and democratic rule in Bangladesh’s history and yet we have not learnt from history. The future of Bangladesh depends on how we can strengthen and give institutional shape to democracy, rule of law and human rights .That is of essence. Prof. Abdur Razzaque said,“What compounds the situation arises from the fact that no nation today is an island.

Bangladesh and its nation is of course not. It is link in a chain which is worldwide. Economically, politically, in the world of technology and of ideas, Bangladesh is an insignificant but vitally connected link in a chain.

Because it is so small and insignificant, ideas, impulses and practices which dominate or shape the world merely affect us, are acts of God over which we have no control. Whether we like it or not what happens in India is of vital importance to Bangladesh and not the other way about. What happens in Bangladesh is only of marginal importance and interest to India. It is concerting but a hard fact of life. " ( Abdur Razzaq,1980,p-17)The existing literature on the history of Bangladesh underplays not only the inner contradictions of the Muslims of Bengal, but also other significant features of her past. It's a 'crisis of confidence'. But in practice, the persecution of the minorities continued even after independence.The forms of oppression upon the minorities both physically and psychologically is manifold:

Constitutionally: by adopting 5th and 8th amendment to the Constitution, minorities have been downgraded and made them second class citizens in the People’s Republic of Bangladesh;

Economically, they have been crippled through discriminatory laws and practices; they have been made non-entity in different civil services including, administration, Foreign, army and police (below 2%) and other services including education;

Politically, they have been segregated and alienated from the mainstream and become a ‘vote-bank’ and become a subject of humiliation; They are totally deprived of the privileges of participation in the top positions of government as well the state; and Culturally and socially, they along with place of warship and women are insecure; Their ancestral properties lying vested with the government including Devuttur properties, though the supreme court (Appellate Division) and the High Court of Bangladesh declare those laws illegal.

A number of eminent personalities including 13 parliament members of minority community signed the memorandum with a 7-point demand and submitted to the prime minister’s office one seeking changes to ''Vested Property Return (amendment) Act'' in light of the Supreme Court verdict, reports the Daily Star.

It may be mentioned here that the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in a judgment in 2006 said :“ Since the law of enemy property itself died with the repeal of Ordinance No.1 of 1969 on 23 -3-1974 no further vested property case can be started thereafter on the basis of the law which is already dead.

Accordingly, there is no basis at all to treat the case land as vested property upon started VP Case (58 DLR 2006 pp 177-185) .The Awami League Hindu lawmakers placed their other demands include a clear definition of vested property on the basis of Supreme Court's orders, return of all properties grabbed after 1974 and formation of tribunals at districts to dispose of the cases.

Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh minorities (HRCBM) was constituted on December 10,2004 to campaign for the rights of the minorities who have been denied their fundamental rights and are placed in a disadvantageous position economically, administratively, socially and politically; our mission is to blend human rights advocacy with humanitarian services and sustainable development; so that minorities may prosper in free and fair atmosphere and may make full contribution towards national development, international peace and cooperation in keeping with the progressive aspirations of the mankind.

HRCBM will oppose unlawful, fraudulent and intentional lease of Debottor Properties, Cremation Sites, Religious Institutions of minorities, grabbing of minority properties and lands with special reference to lands of indigenous people and settlement of non-locals in Chittagong Hill Tracks that directly violates the judgment in the Higher Court of Bangladesh; We will continue to support for materialization of CHT Peace Accord, and uphold principles of equity, natural justice and fundamental human rights. We have investigated more than 40 incidents of repression, torture, persecution, land-grabbing, forceful conversion, gang-rape, and demolition of temples of Minorities in various parts of Bangladesh since Sheikh Hasina came to power.Again, in the absence of reservation in the services, will not communal jealousy keep out by steady pressure or unfair exercise of patronage members of minorities who have no great political importance? We are not afraid of open persecution.

In recent years, the world community has woken up to the problems of the minorities, resulting in the adoption of several measures at the international level.

Although the sub-commission on prevention of discrimination and protection of minorities was formed as a subsidiary body of the United Nations commission on human rights as early as in 1947, new approaches towards the implementation of policies for an effective international protection of the ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities was becoming necessary.The rise of domestic conflicts around the world, resulting in suffering, displacement of people and social disruption during late Eighties and early Nineties brought minority rights into focus. The Daily Star in its an editorial opined :" Member of the minority community have reasons to be concerned over some recent incidents in which quite a few of their families came under attack Such a gross violation of rights of any segment of the society will have to be dealt with an iron hand, because that is where the real test of a democratic and pluralistic society lies. (The Daily Star editorial, 3 Sept 09) .

The most comprehensive UN human rights document devoted solely to minority rights is the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, adopted consensually by the UN general assembly in 1992. The declaration’s preamble states that the promotion and realization of the right of the minorities is integral to the development of society.

It asks all signatories to take necessary legislative measures to uphold the principles of the declaration. It is our sincere desire that Bangladesh, member of the United Nations, upholds the rule of law and endows upon its citizens the human rights and justice guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Meghna Guhathakurta opined on the Occasion of 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10, December 2008: “The future of the rights movement in Bangladesh rests on equal participation of all sections of the people. This particularly refers to minorities; religious, ethnic, caste-based, and linguistic who in times of trouble, find themselves in a position to defend respectively their physical, economic and cultural rights to life, land and traditions, rights that has been promised to them by the Constitution of this country. Many may say that these rights pertain to the whole of humanity, why only address them in the context of minorities. True, but it is only through identifying social discrimination and ethno-racialism as social indicators of poverty and lack of justice that we can identify those very factors, which are equally responsible for the underdevelopment of minority communities as well as the hampered growth of a secular and democratic polity.”

Rabindranath Trivedi, is a Freedom Fighter, retired Additional Secretary, GoB, and presently Secretary General , Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM), an NGO in special consultative status with ECOSOC of the United Nations.

- Asian Tribune -