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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.

Japan MP wants CHT land issue resolved

Dhaka, Dec 21 ( government should give priority to resolving land disputes to fully implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts peace accord, Japanese parliamentarian Naoto Sakaguchi says.

"First priority is definitely the land issue since its related to human rights and important for the co-existence of settlers and indigenous people," he told the media on Monday while briefing on his three-day visit to the CHT.

Sakaguchi, member of the foreign affairs committee of Japan's House of Representatives, is in Bangladesh to have a first-hand assessment of the situation in the hills region.

"I came here to tell the Japanese people what is happening in the Chittagong Hill Tracts."

He said that he thinks his government should support Bangladesh in all ways to bring stability to the hill districts.

"And I would pursue the Japanese government to do so."

Sharing his experience, Sakaguchi said he found that it was very important to maximise the value of land in the CHT area.

Citing a specific incident in Khagrachharhi, he said the deputy commissioner had suggested making a map to survey the land area of the district.

The DC said that the map would clearly point to the lands occupied by settlers and requested him to persuade the indigenous people to get themselves included.

But, the local chiefs refused the idea, he added. "They want it to happen according to their geographical ideas about the land situation."

The MP of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan said solving the land issue is very important for the co-existence of settlers and natives.

On the need for more economic activities in the region, he said farming alone is not enough to survive as "the land is very limited".

"In addition to agriculture, industries are needed over there for sustainable development."

Tourism can be one good avenue for the region, according to Sakaguchi.

"Visitors will see the co-existence of two types of different cultures and that's the objective of the tourism along with [portraying] the natural beauty."

He said such type of tourism is successfully running in Vietnam.

"That way the government would be also interested to protect the rights, culture and heritages of the indigenous people," added the Japanese parliamentarian.

But, before everything, the issue of land should be resolved, he reiterated.

Sakaguchi said that his government should observe the process of implementing the peace accord struck in 1997 as Japan is the largest bilateral donor of Bangladesh.


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