Asian Centre for Human Rights

Dedicated to promotion and protection of human rights in Asia

 
ACHR Press Release
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ACHR Index: PR/BD/01/06/05
15 June 2005

UN agencies urged not to fund racist programmes of Bangladesh

Thousands of  Chakmas and other tribals being displaced to build army and
air-force training centres near Indo-Bangladesh border

New Delhi:  Asian Centre for Human Rights in its report of today, “Who funds the acts of racial discrimination in the CHTs” (www.acrhweb.org/briefingpapers/BD01-05.pdf) accused the government of Bangladesh of committing acts of racism and racial discrimination against indigenous Jumma peoples and urged the UN agencies and bilateral donors not to fund such racist prorammes.

In addition to the free food rations to 28,000 plain settler families since 1978 in the first week of June 2005, the government of Bangladesh has instructed to provide free rations to the “new settlers”. An estimated 65,000 plain settlers’ families are reportedly being settled between Baghaihat and Majolong in Sajek Union under Rangamati Hill district near Indo-Bangladesh border areas. The Bangladesh army personnel built Baghaihat-Sajek road in the dense Kassalong reserve forest violating the Forest Act of 1927 and Bangladesh Forest (Amendment) Act 2000 to provide security to the settlers.

The sponsored settlement of plains people are being carried out simultaneously with heavy militarisation across the CHTs especially along India-Bangladesh borders. Bangladesh army has forcibly grabbed hundreds of thousands acres of land for the expansion of Ruma cantonment, establishment  of Bangladesh Rifles headquarters at Babuchara, Brigade Headquarters of Bangladesh Army at Balaghat of Bandarban, and an Artillery Training Centre and Bangladesh Air Force Training Centre at Sualok Union of along the Indo-Bangladesh border. Indigenous Jummas who are being displaced have not been given any compensation.

“The providing of free food rations only to the settlers who displace indigenous Jumma peoples from their lands and violate the rights of indigenous peoples is an act of racial discrimination as defined under Article 28 of the Constitution of Bangladesh and International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to which Bangladesh is a party.” – stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

ACHR stated that the UN Specialised Agencies especially World Food Programme are funding some of these programme in the name of helping the poor. The funds allocated to the Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board by the UN agencies and bilateral donors are also being mis-used to support the plain settlers.

Ends/-

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