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Indigenous victims of Sajek Muslim attack

On 20 April 2008 Bangladesh army backed Muslim settlers attacked and burnt down 76 indigenous Buddhist houses in Sajek. The aim of the attack was to drive out the indigenous Buddhist villagers and grab their land. The indigenous Chakma Buddhists and their burnt down houses after the attack.


Bangladesh government helps Bengali settlers grab indigenous people's land in Mahalchari

On 22 January 2008 Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Mr. Monindra Kishore Majumder issued an order to Mr. Abul Hossain, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) of Mahalchari upazila to examine documents of the disputed lands and solve the problem soon. The indigenous headman of local mouza was also issued a show-cause notice to explain why he did not inform the administration in time when the problem cropped up. In addition, on 21 January 2008 the police of Mahalchari police station filed a case against Mr. Bishwajit Chakma, Chairman of Keyangghat union and five others accusing their alleged involvement in axing trees on lands claimed by Muslim settlers.

There are huge traditionally occupied lands, other than recorded lands of indigenous people. Traditionally occupied lands do not require having land deed. It is also mentionable that government does not formally recognize the rights of the traditionally occupied lands. Government regards these lands as government lands. Indigenous villagers made tree gardens on these recorded and traditionally occupied lands. But the Muslim settlers claimed that these lands were given to them by the government. Local indigenous public representatives and traditional leaders are of opinion that these settlements were given without taking recommendation of the local headman which is practice in force in CHT. They said that the district administration's order is nothing but helping Muslim settlers to occupy this traditionally occupied land in the name of examination of the disputed lands.

Indigenous leaders have been fighting the land grabbing by Muslim settlers who are backed by civil and military administration. The indigenous villagers claimed that the filing case against Mr. Bishwajit Chakma and issuing show-cause notice are nothing but suppression their voice. The indigenous leaders of Mahalchari upazila have been demanding the resolution of land disputes through CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission as per CHT Accord. But the local administration ordered the indigenous people to present their land documents ignoring their demand. The CHT Accord provides that a Land Commission shall be constituted under the leadership of a retired Justice for settlement of disputes regarding lands and premises and the Commission shall resolve the land disputes in consonance with the law, custom and practice in force in the CHT.


Sources:

Kapaeeng Foundation (An Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)
E-mail: kapaeeng.foundation@gmail.com, kapaeeng.watch@gmail.com

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