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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:
http://www.dailykalerkantho.com/?view=details&type=gold&data=Islam&pub_no=599&cat_id=1&menu_id=13&news_type_id=1&index=0Prothom Alo:
http://www.prothom-alo.com/detail/date/2011-08-01/news/174624

Bangladeshi Hindu temple opens today in Hamtramck

Source: freep.com

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.