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Anti-land grabbing rally held defying army-police obstruction

chtnews.com
News No. 85/2009, July 10, 2009

At least 11 Jummas were wounded in army and police actions as the Democratic Youth Forum and Boroitali Land Protection Committee held a
rally in Manikchari, Khagrachari today.

The army also arrested a participant – Chathoai-u Marma (25) – while he was returning home after attending the rally. He was arrested from
Amtali in Manikchari town. The army handed him over to the police, it is learnt.

Mithun Chakma, General Secretary of Democratic Youth Forum, condemned the arrest of Mr. Marma and the brutality with which the army and
police tried to foil the peaceful rally organised to protest the continuing land grabbing in CHT.

The DYF leader demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Chathoai-u Marma.

The scheduled anti-land grabbing rally was turned in to protest rally, and an estimated 4,000 took part in it, defying army and police
brutality and obstructions.

Organising Secretary of DYF, Michael Chakma and Acting General Secretary of the Hill Women’s Federation, Konika Dewan addressed the
rally. They condemned the attempt of the army and police to foil the rally by using brute force, and termed their action as fascist.

At the last minute, the organisers shifted the venue of the rally from Rani Nihar Devi Government High School ground to College Gate to avoid
confrontation with the police.

The Bangladesh Army soldiers were deployed in a number of locations to prevent the Jummas from reaching Mainkcahri.

In Matiranga, the police blocked five jeeps carrying about 200 persons. They were coming from Khagrachari to participate in the
rally. When they tried to protest, the police resorted to indiscriminate baton charges and injured 10 of them, including members
of the Hill Women’s Federation.

About 600 persons set out from Lakshmichari in 17 jeeps but they were halted at Chittagong – Khagrachari border point. The members of the
Ansar Battalion detained the jeep drivers in the camp.

In Lakshmichari, the army refused to allow any vehicle out of the town. About 800 Jummas gathered there waiting to be ferried to the
rally. When they protested the decision of the army, they were met with violent action. The police forced them to disperse.

The army also blocked Apruchi Marma, President of PCP Manikchari Unit, and another member of the PCP, at Moghaichari army camp. They were
going to Lakshmichari from Manikchari to lead the protest demonstration there.

As no jeep and bus of the organisers were allowed to go to Manikchri, many Jummas tried to reach the venue of the rally using normal
passenger buses. However, the army also prevented their attempt, and pulled them down from the buses.

The army checked each and every vehicle coming from Khagrchari and forced the Jumma passengers to get down. They could not reach their
destinations.

At around 11am the army beat Suija-u Chowdhury (25) s/o Jotindra Chowdhury at Manikchari College. A soldier hit him in the head with a
stick, wounding him seriously. Mr. Chowdhury is from the village of Bholachola under Momprue Mouza and belongs to Marma nationality.
Captain Sarwar from Lakshmicahri zone was present when he was being beaten up.

The army and police actions are in betrayal of the commitment made by Manikchari Upazila Nirbahi Officer Mohiuddin Kabir Mahin to cooperate
with the organisers.

All had been going on well until yesterday when the UNO suddenly volte-faced urging the organisers not to hold the rally.

The army also came out with their true colour when they threatened the bus and jeep owners associations not to ferry the participants to the
venue of the rally.

On Thursday night, the army called lineman of Jaliapara Bus Owners Association to Guimara zone and threatened him with dire consequences
if he dared to allow buses and jeeps to be hired by the organisers. Later Jubo League leaders also threatened him.

The President and General Secretary of the jeep owners association were also summoned to Choichala BDR camp in Ramgarh on Thursday night
and were threatened not to help the organisers by providing jeeps to them.


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Chittagong Hill Tracts from the perspective of the Jumma people's struggle for the right to self-determination. For further information
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