BANGLADESH is in media once again for the wrong reason. The poverty stricken South Asian country has witnessed the killing of six tribal people in Chittagong Hill tracts during the third week of February. Authentic sources confirmed that the Bangladesh armed forces had also burnt down a Buddhist temple in the locality.
“At least three Vanvasis including Lakkhi Bijoy Chakma and Litan Chakma were shot dead on February 20 itself, 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. Four tribal villages namely Gangaram Doar, Retkaba, Purba Para and Guchachagram, under Sajek Sub-Division of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, were burnt into ashes,” informed a credible New Delhi based rights body.
Asian Centre for Human Rights, in an official statement also added that the armed force personnel were were also involved in burning down of few shops in Ladumani bazaar and an UNDP sponsored village centre with one Buddhist temple and one church in the night of February 19 last.
Speaking to this writer from New Delhi, the ACHR director Suhas Chakma, informed that his centre had already “sought the intervention of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay with the government of Bangladesh for initiating appropriate actions against the culprits”.
“Bangladesh Army and illegal plain settlers had arrived in the locality during the night of 19th February and went on burning the tribal villages and also indiscriminate killing of indigenous Jumma people there,” quoting reliable sources, Chakma asserted.
He also added that the Bangladesh Army continued the destructive activities in the Vanvasi villages till February 20, evening.
Since the beginning of January this year, 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 January 10, 2010 with an ultimatum of January 16 to return them their lands. As the deadline expired without any fruitful result, Jumma villagers started their agitation and started to boycott Baghaihat market from January 18, 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,” Chakma concluded.