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/02/06/05
28 June 2005

UN approached against destruction of 300 of tribal
houses in the Chittagong Hill Tracts

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights today sought intervention of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Justice Louise Arbour against the forcible eviction of thousands of indigenous tribal peoples by the government of Bangladesh to sponsor settlement of an estimated 65,000 mainstream Muslim settler families in Sajek Union under Rangmati district of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs), bordering Mizoram State of India.

“The sponsored settlement of 65,000 plain settler families which equals almost 3,90,000 persons with each family comprising of at least six persons, will increase the population of the CHTs by over 25%, completely alter the demographic composition of the region and evict thousands of indigenous peoples. This is nothing but ethnic cleansing of the indigenous tribal peoples who are ethnically, culturally and religiously different from the mainstream Muslim settlers.” – stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.  

Since 23 June 2005, the Bangladesh Rifles have forcibly evicted about 300 indigenous Jumma families after destroying their houses in Devachari, New Lonkor, Old Lonkor, Halimbari and Chizhok villages in Sajek Union under Rangamati district for settlement of the plains settlers. The destruction of the villages continues and majority of the settlers will be settled in Baghaihat-Sajek road in the dense Kassalong reserve forest. Between 1979 and 1983, the government of Bangladesh had settled about 500,000 plain settlers in violation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts 1900 Regulation. The plain settlers conducted over a dozen massacres to grab the lands of indigenous tribal peoples.

“The population transfer of the plain settlers violates Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions and at the United Nations, Bangladesh government consistently and rightly sponsored resolutions and voted against the settlement of the Israelis in the Palestinian territories. But, back home in the CHTs, the government practices similar population transfer policies. This hypocrisy must be condemned.”- stated Mr Chakma.

Asian Centre for Human Rights requested UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to intervene with the government of Bangladesh to stop its transfer of 65,000 plains settlers in Sajek Union which will make indigenous peoples minority in their lands and allow the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and fundamental freedom of indigenous peoples to visit Bangladesh.

Ends/-

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