Bangladesh army burns down UN sponosored Chakma villages

- Three Chakmas shot dead, dozens injured -

-United Nations urged to intervene-

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) today sought the intervention of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay with the government of Bangladesh for taking appropriate actions against the burning down of the tribal villages and indiscriminate killing of indigenous Jumma peoples since yesterday night i.e. 19th February 2010 by the Bangladesh Army and illegal plain settlers. According to the information received by Asian Centre for Human Rights this morning, the Bangladesh Army has resumed the burning down of the tribal houses at 6 am GMT (20 February 2010) and the villages are still being burnt at the time of issuing this press release.

At least three tribals including Lakkhi Bijoy Chakma and Litan Chakma were shot dead this morning (20 February 2010), dozens were injured in the firing by the Bangladesh Army while one Buddhist monk, Purnabash Bhikkhu, has been missing after the Buddhist temple was burnt down. At least four indigenous/tribal villages - Gangaram Doar, Retkaba, Purba Para and Guchachagram - under Sajek Sub-Division of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh have been burnt into ashes. In addition, at least 7 shops in Ladumani bazaar, one UNDP sponsored village centre providing assistance to the indigenous villagers, one church and one Buddhist temple were burnt down yesterday night (19 February 2010).

The Bangladesh Army personnel have reportedly erected barricades and have further been preventing the public leaders, civil officials and the journalists from visiting the affected areas.

“This particular attack on the indigenous Jumma peoples shows that the government of Bangladesh has failed to change its policy of indiscriminate killings of indigenous Jumma people in order to occupy their lands and implant more illegal plain settlers instead of implementing the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997.” – stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of the Asian Centre for Human Rights.

Since the beginning of January 2010, illegal plain settlers with the support of Bangladesh army personnel posted at Baghaihat zone under Rangamati district resumed expansion of their illegal settlement into the villages of the Chakma people. A number of houses have already been erected by the illegal plain settlers by forcibly occupying Jumma villagers’lands.

The Jumma villagers under the banner of Sajek Bhumi Rakkha Committee (Sajek Land Rights Protection Committee) submitted a memorandum to the Baghaichhari Upazila Nirbahi Officer on 10 January 2010 with an ultimatum of 16 January 2010 to return them their lands. As the deadline expired without any fruitful result on 16 January 2010, Jumma villagers started their agitation and started to boycott Baghaihat market from 18 January 2010.

The Bangladesh Army personnel and the security forces started burning down the tribal villages since yesterday night to increase settlement of illegal plain settlers.

[Ends]

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