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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 army chief Gen. Moeen distributes relief mainly to Bengali settlers in Sajek

On 29 April 2008, Bangladesh army chief Gen Moeen U Ahmed visited Sajek. He declared to provide a financial grant of Tk. 10,000 for each affected family as compensation. It is learnt that the grants were already reached there and are being distributed to the affected families.

However, one indigenous Chakma villager requesting not be named alleges, "Cow and goat were given same price. The houses of Muslim settlers were merely shacks. There was nothing except four temporary hedge-rows. On the contrary, the houses of the indigenous Chakma villagers were almost permanent abode. There were valuables including furniture, utensils, cloths, rice". He says, Muslim settlers gained more profits by receiving lump sum Tk. 10,000 alone.

One woman from Gangaram Mukh village whose house was completely burnt down says, Muslim settlers even earned profits by robbing the houses of the indigenous Chakma villagers before setting them on fire. She claims, she witnessed robbing of valuables of her neighbouring house by the Muslim settlers. However, same relief were distributed to them (Muslim settlers), even some cases they are receiving relief more than one time.

Most of the affected indigenous Chakma villagers did not take Tk. 10,000 for construction of house declared by army chief General Moeen U Ahmad protesting against direct involvement of Bangladesh army with this arson attack on 20 April 2008 at Sajek union in Baghaichari sub-district that left 78 indigenous houses burnt to ashes. Bangladesh army conducted operation through out the affected areas to gather affected indigenous villagers at Baghaihat army zone for distribution of this government grant. A few affected indigenous villagers were caught up by the army and compelled to receive the grant.

An innocent affected indigenous villager named Sneha Kumar Chakma (38) who was also gathered at Baghaihat zone for distribution of Tk. 10,000 for house construction was arrested by Baghaihat army on 1 June 2008 with an old case. He was handed over to Baghaichari police station and sent to Rangamati jail. The army implicated him in a criminal case filed previously against unnamed persons on 13 January 2008 under sections 143/144/149/224/332/34 of the Bangladesh Penal Code. It is believed that Sneha Kumar Chakma was arrested because he was vocal against land grabbing and expansion of illegal Muslim settlement in Sajek.

Muslim settlers declared road blockage programme at Baghaihat bazaar for indefinite period in order to blockade transportation of agricultural products of indigenous villagers to other markets. It is mentionable that indigenous people have been boycotting Baghaihat bazaar since 20 April following the arson attack. Most of shopkeepers and dwellers of Baghaihat bazaar are Muslim settlers who committed 20 April 2008 arson attack on indigenous villagers.


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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