ABID AZAD

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Violence and land grabbing forced 210 indigenous families to flee the country in 2014

According to the report, 122 indigenous women and girls were subjected to sexual and physical violence in 2014, up from 67 in 2013

Two hundred and ten indigenous families fled Bangladesh in 2014 after being threatened or dispossessed of their land, a human rights report said.

In 2014, some 3,911 acres of land in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) had been taken over by state and non-state actors, and another 84,647 acres were in the process of being acquired and occupied.

The report said 500 people belonging to 150 families from the Alikadam-Thanchi Hills in Bandarban district migrated to Myanmar in the face of mounting insecurity in 2014.

Moreover, at least 300 plains-dwellers belonging to 60 families left for India because of communal attacks and fears of persecution by Bangali land grabbers during 2014, the report said.

The Human Rights Report 2014, published by indigenous rights organisation, Kapaeeng Foundation, was unveiled at a launch on Friday at The Daily Star seminar hall in the capital.

It was presented by Pallab Chakma, editor and executive director of Kapaeeng Foundation.

The Forest Department intensified its process of acquiring more than 84,542 acres of land, declaring them reserved and protected forests, while Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) has acquired lands in violation of the customary land rights of indigenous peoples and the provisions of the Hill District Councils Act, 1998, the report said.

“The fight for justice and the fight for rights is not only an issue for indigenous people but is an issue for all the people of the country,” the chief guest of the programme, member of the CHT Commission and executive director of Ain O Salish Kendra, Advocate Sultana Kamal, said.

“Establishing cantonments and BGB camps cannot bring peace to the CHT,” Hazera Sultana MP, member of the parliamentary caucus on indigenous people, said, adding that indigenous land rights must be secured to achieve peace.

The report also highlighted the leasing out of thousands of acres of land under customary ownership of indigenous peoples to non-residents to establish rubber plantations.

 

Land grabbing and violence

Land disputes were the main motive for attacks on indigenous people, mostly perpetrated by ethnic Bangalis.

Rapes, killings, abductions, and violence against women increased in 2014.

Some 102 families, including two families from the plains, were evicted from their ancestral homesteads.

Another 886 families, including 300 plains families, are currently facing eviction.

Land grabbers attacked 153 families, 89 from the plains and 64 from the CHT, in 2014 in a bid to take over land belonging to indigenous peoples.

The report said 150 indigenous people, 106 in the CHT and 44 in the plains, were implicated in false and fabricated cases.

The report said 122 indigenous women and girls were subjected to sexual and physical violence in 2014, up from 67 in 2013.

Seventy-five cases of violence against indigenous women and girls were documented in 2014, up from 48 the previous year.

In 2014, seven women and girls were killed after rape.

Twenty-one cases of rape and gang rape were reported from across the country, with 12 taking place in the CHT and the remaining nine taking place in the plains.

Rape attempts were made on 22 indigenous women and girls, and 10 women and girls were kidnapped or were attempted to be kidnapped during the reporting period.

Of the victims or survivors, 60% were children aged between 4-18 years, and 40% were adults above 18 years of age.

Accord and discord

The CHT could face “uneasiness” if the government does not fully implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord by April 30, the report said.

Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) Chairman Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, known as Santu Larma, threatened last November 29 to wage a non-cooperation movement from May 1 if the government failed to fully implement the accord.

According to the PCJSS, only 25 out of 72 sections of the CHT Peace Accord had been implemented so far, the report said.

Thirty-four sections of the accord still remain totally unimplemented, while 13 sections have been only partially implemented.

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