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  • probirbidhan 16:13 on June 1, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: Bandarban, Bangalees, Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh, , Jumma people, Khagrachari, land grabbing, Military control, PCJSS, Rangamati, , Shanti Bahini, United Peoples’ Democratic Front (UPDF), , violation of human rights   

    UPDF statement in UNPFII 

    To the special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples
     
    Issue: Human Rights Situation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh
     
    We, on behalf of the United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF), would like to draw  kind attention of Special Raporteur on the Rights of indigenous people to the human rights situation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of Bangladesh.
    Political repression
    In December 1997, an accord was signed to bring peace in the CHT. But in the last over 14 years it has failed to bring peace and improve the human rights situation. Soon after the signing of the accord, repression on the so-called ‘anti-accord elements’ [meaning members of the United Peoples’ Democratic Front (UPDF) and its front organizations, namely, Hill Students’ Council, Hill Women’s Federation and Democratic Youth Forum] began. In a report entitled “Life Is Not Ours: Land and Human Rights in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh: Update 4” published in 2000, the Chittagong Hill Tracts International Commission stated:
    Since the signing of the peace agreement, a total of more than 120 Jumma activists have been arrested, many on old (mostly fabricated) charges. Apparently, the provision in the Peace Accord for an amnesty for all JSS cadres does not apply to these activists. Immediately following the surrender of the JSS and Shanti Bahini, in the months of February and March 1998 alone, more than 30 leaders and activists of the HPC and HSC were arrested. On 17 February 1998, one week after the surrender ceremony, the police raided a hostel room at Dhaka University, which was also being used as an office for the HPC, HSC and HWF. The Police entered without a warrant, claiming they were looking for illegal arms although they found nothing incriminating.
    Since then, the situation has deteriorated even further. Repression on the UPDF and its front organizations have become commonplace. Since the signing of the accord at least 240 members and supporters of the UPDF have been killed by the Bangladesh Military personnel and armed groups patronized by them. Its peaceful rallies and demonstrations are regularly attacked while its members and supporters, including members of the Hill Women’s Federation, are arrested, tortured and jailed. On the other hand, four of its offices have been forced to shut down without due process of law.
    Most recent incidents of repression:
    -11th May 2012: Mr. Choton Kanti Tangchangya (40), UPDF leader of Bandarban district unit, unsuccessful candidate of last general election, and his follower Mr. Jolomoni Tangchangya were arrested by police on a fabricated charge.
    -14th May 2012: Bikash Tangchangya (40), a sympathizer of UPDF at Rajastali in Rangamati district was allegedly attacked and injured.
    Rape and Large scale attacks
    In addition to political repression, there have been at least 11 large scale attacks on Jumma habitations which were carried out by members of Bangladesh Army and illegal Bengali settlers in order to grab land, while rapes of Jumma women and minor girls have become a serious problem. Between January and May 10 this year, at least six Jumma girls and women were raped; one case of attempted rape was reported while another girl in her teens was abducted. In the most recent incident, an 11-year old Jumma girl, Sujata Chakma, was murdered after rape in Langudu on 9 May 2012.
    Land grabbing
    While land grabbing by illegal Bengali settlers is a perennial problem, it took a serious turn during the rule of emergency from 2007 – 2008. Hundreds of acres of land belonging to Jumma people were captured. On many occasions land grabbing or attempt at land grabbing were accompanied by communal attacks on Jumma villages, resulting in deaths and destruction of houses and other properties.
    On May 10 the settlers set fire to a house belonging to Kamal Singh Tripura in Paiong Para village under Ugudochari (Ultachari) Union in Panchari Upazila of Khagrachari district .  Kamal Singh had built the house on his land a few days ago.Two settlers namely Md. Manik and Md. Fazlul who set file have been trying to capture his land for a long time.
    Military control
    Despite the CHT accord which ended the armed insurrection led by the now-defunct Shanti Bahini guerrillas, the CHT continues to remain under military occupation. The government has replaced “Operation Dabanol” with “Operation Ottoron” to impose virtual military rule in the CHT. The overwhelming presence of the military, together with the illegal Bengali settlers, poses a serious threat to the existence of the Jumma people.
    Denial of the right to identity
    On 30 June 2011, the Bangladesh national parliament passed the fifteenth amendment to the constitution which, inter alia, provides that “The people of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangalees as a nation and the citizens of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangladeshis”. [Article 6(2)]
    The imposition of Bengali nationality on the indigenous Jumma people and other non-Bengali national minorities has serious implications. While it is a violation of fundamental human rights, it reflects the policy of the Bangladesh state to ethnic-cleanse the indigenous peoples of the country. Bangladesh continues to deny the existence of indigenous people in the country.
    There were many on ground investigation conducted by CHT commission and other international agencies into the violation of human rights in the Chittagong Hill Tracts(CHT).  But, most investigation reports could not properly focus on the political repression on the UPDF supporters-activists and other human rights defenders. More inquiry into the CHT with a follow up measure is urgent.
    Sincerely,
    Ronel Chakma
    Spokesperson (South Korea)
    United Peoples’ Democratic Front (UPDF)
    Parish Chakma
    Representative of the United Peoples’ Democratic Front (UPDF) in New York, USA
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  • probirbidhan 19:22 on May 25, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , environment ministry, Hall-Mark Group, industrial park, land grabbing, Savar   

    Ministry favours law-breaker Hall-Mark Group 

    Environment dept fined Hall-Mark Group Tk 40 lakh, ministry reduces it to Tk 4 lakh; court orders arrest of its MD in land-grabbing case

    The photo shot from Singair bridge at Savar on the outskirts of the capital shows the filling up of low land for the Hall-Mark Group’s industrial park, in the background, by unloading sand through steel pipes. Inset, the boundary walls and structures set up by the company allegedly through grabbing land.Photo: STAR
    Tawfique Ali

    The environment ministry has mysteriously cut a Tk 40 lakh penalty down to Tk 4 lakh slapped against Hall-Mark Group for illegally setting up an industrial park at Savar on the outskirts of the capital.

    The Department of Environment fined the company for illegally initiating the park on a 100-acre area, including Dhaleshwari river wetland to the south of Singair bridge. Destructive to ecology, the project has no environmental clearance.

    On May 3, the company confessed to the offence and paid the fine.

    But the DoE delayed depositing the penalty money to the government treasury for a week apparently to facilitate a chance to the company to avail the favour of the environment ministry’s appellate authority.

    The department earlier in October penalised the company with another Tk 5 lakh fine for illegally setting up Hall-Mark Knitting Industries and a cattle farm, and Hall-Mark Managing Director Md Tanvir Mahmud paid it without objection.

    On May 10, the appellate authority led by Additional Secretary Auparup Chowdhury let the Hall-Mark off, glorifying the company as a cent percent export oriented group, according to documents obtained by The Daily Star.

    DoE Director Mohammad Munir Chowdhury, in his document submitted to the appellate authority, said the company’s appeal was unlawful and unethical, as it had already confessed to the crime and paid the penalty money.

    Still, the appeal body asked the company to obtain environmental clearance in three months, paying no heed to the fact that part of the occupied area is river wetland and rest is designated as rural settlement in the Detailed Area Plan of Dhaka city.

    Hasan Mahmud, minister for environment and forests, said he was unaware of the issue and asked this correspondent to talk to the officer concerned and the chief of DoE.

    Auparup Chowdhury, who gave the order on the appeal, could not be contacted as he was travelling to Germany.

    Mesbah ul Alam, secretary of the ministry, said they could look into an appeal body’s anomaly only if a specific complaint is filed.

    Asked why there had been a delay in depositing the penalty money, Monowar Islam, director general of DoE, said, “I do not know. I have to check it.”

    “We have to comply with the ministry order as it is the highest authority,” he said on the ministry’s role in this regard.

    Meanwhile, a Dhaka court yesterday issued an arrest warrant against Md Tanvir Mahmud after one Muksudur Rahman filed a case alleging that the company had grabbed the latter’s land at Janata Housing.

    Waliza Hasan, chairperson of Janata Housing Environment Protection Forum, said the company had forcibly occupied several hundred plots at the 600-acre project to set the industrial park at Tentuljhora in Hemayetpur.

    Over a hundred affected plot owners have so far filed formal complaints against Hall-Mark with Savar police, who have not yet moved for any legal action, she said.

    Contacted several times at Hall-Mark’s head office for the company’s version, telephone operator Abdul Kuddus took note of the name and telephone number of this correspondent, saying Tanvir would call back if he wished to talk.

    But nobody has called back yet.

     
  • probirbidhan 14:44 on May 8, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , industrial waste, industry owners, land grabbing, politically influential, , river protection, shipping ministry, tashforce   

    Minister blames big-guns for river encroachment, pollution 

    Tue, May 8th, 2012 bdnews24.com

    Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan has admitted that the government efforts to free riverbanks from encroachers are being hampered by influential people.

    “They obstruct eviction drive. They are mostly owners of industries and also involved in politics with various political parties,” he said after a meeting of the taskforce on river protection at his ministry on Tuesday.

    The minister said the taskforce had decided to take legal steps against those found obstructing the efforts to save the rivers across the country from encroachment and pollution.

    The taskforce has been conducting drive to remove illegal structures from the banks and foreshores of four rivers of Dhaka district – Buriganga, Shitalakkhya, Turag and Balu. Besides, it has been working on stopping illegal lifting of sand from riverbeds, restoring navigability of the rivers, and constructing boundary pillars, walls and walkways on the riverbanks.

    Shajahan, also chairman of the taskforce, said the meeting decided to evict all illegal installations and other installations approved by the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) from the city embankments along the Buriganga river from Gabtoli to Sadarghat by June this year. The Water Development Board (WDB) and the Dhaka district administration will jointly conduct the task.

    He assured that the victims would be compensated.

    Referring to the progress of the eviction drive against encroachment and installation of boundary pillars along the riverbanks of Dhaka and nearby three districts, he said some 8,100 pillars had already been installed along 220-km shorelines on the 110-km stretch of Buriganga, Shitalakkhya, Turag, Balu and Dhaleshwari rivers flowing through Dhaka and its nearby districts of Narayanganj, Munshiganj and Gazipur.

    Moreover, a total of four committees comprising seven members each headed by Deputy Commissioners have been formed in the four districts to protect the rivers, including Buriganga and Sitalakhya, surrounding Dhaka city.

    “The committees will submit progress report in this regard by June next,” Shajahan said.

    The shipping minister said that another 10-member committee headed by the BIWTA chairman had been formed to keep the rivers free from pollution and encroachers and that it had been asked to submit its findings by June.

     
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