Monday, March 1, 2010

World petitions Bangladesh PM stop land grabbing in CHT

Indigenous peoples, activists and peace builders worldwide condemned the reported killing of 5 Jumma and the burning of some 200 houses in Baghaihat of Sajek Union by Bengali settlers and the Army last Feb 19-20. They also asked to stop the grabbing of Jumma land reportedly by "Bengali settlers" aided by the Bangladesh army.

As the online petition gains support, the petitioners asked Prime Minister Sheik Hasina to stop violence and pull out military forces in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and implement the long delayed CHT Peace Accord of 1997.

Indigenous Peoples rights activist Wasim Wagha from the IPs of Indus and tribals of Suleiman Mountains said, “the government of Bangladesh take notice and do justice with the tribal peoples by acknowledging their right to peace, livelihood and identity.”

The Naga Peoples' Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR) and the Women against
Militarization and State Violence also condemned the incident.

Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities(HRCBM) President Dhiman Chowdhury said, “The allegation of Army’s involvement indicates state’s failure to uphold its Constitution and its obligation under international law. This is an incidental proof of the ongoing genocide that has long been ignored by the State as well the international community”.

Petitioner Souvik Chakma called for international support to protest ‘ethnic cleansing' saying that 'Bengalis backed by the Army are taking away our lands either by force or by making false
documents, torching our homes, temples and churches, and killing our people. Land is not ours anymore”.

Indian journalist and human rights activist Jiten Yumnam said, “The country should take urgent steps to stop encroaching on indigenous peoples land and to punish immediately those responsible in unleashing inhumanity and barbarism at its worst”.

Dr Bhagadatta Chakma said Prime Minister Sheik Hasina is the “responsible person to stop and take action for these heinous acts” and reminded Hasina that “Jumma people supported all along your party”.

An overwhelming demand for peace and justice was pointed out by the petitioners. Ann Lily Uvero from the Philippines who once served in CHT as a volunteer called for a stop on the violence as “it derails all efforts on peace building”.

Ruby Areng, a member of the Adibashi community and a Bangladeshi, strongly demanded justice for the victims.

The brutal incident was condemned by Bangladesh-based rights activists and groups including Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), Parbatya Bhikkhu Sangha Bangladesh (PBSB), Bangladeshi Adivasi Odhikar Andolon (BAOA), Gono Forum, Ain O Shalish Kendra (ASK), Bangladesh Legal and Services Trust (BLAST), Association for Land and Development (ALRD), Nijera Kori, Brac's Human Rights and Legal Aid Programme, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB), Association of Development Agencies in Bangladesh (ADAB), Chittagong Hill Tracts Hill Students Council (CHTSC), Revolutionary Workers Party of Bangladesh, Gonotantrik Bam Morcha, Samajtantrik Chhatra Front, Communist Party of Bangladesh, Gono Sangskriti Front, Jatiya Gono Front and Sammilito Samajik Andolon (SSA).

Sign Petition here

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