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Letter of Appeal to Mrs. Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Letter of Appeal to Mrs. Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister of the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

To

Mrs. Khaleda Zia

Prime Minister

Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Through:           Embassy of Bangladesh in Tokyo, Japan

4-15-15 Meguro, Meguro-Ku, Tokyo

Tel(03)5704-0216

Date:                 09 July , 2005

Honourable Prime Minister,

We are writing to you to lodge our protest at the forcible eviction of about 300 indigenous Jumma families in Sajek area under Rangamati district of the Chittagong Hill Tracts to make room for the settlement of 65 thousand Bengali families from the plain districts of Bangladesh.

We would also like to express our concern over grabbing of hundreds of thousands of acres of lands belonging to the Jumma people in the name of expansion of military and para military camps and training centres.

We have been informed by reliable sources that since 23 June 2005, the Bangladesh Rifles have forcibly evicted about 300 indigenous Jumma families after destroying their houses in Devachari, New Lonkor, Old Lonkor, Halimbari and Chizhok villages in Sajek Union under Rangamati district for settlement of the plains settlers. The destruction of the villages continues.

We are aware that between 1979 and 1983, the government of Bangladesh had settled about 500,000 plain settlers in violation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts 1900 Regulation. This state sponsored settlement of plain peoples resulted in the displacement of the Jumma people and deterioration of the situation to an unprecedented level.

The population transfer of the plain settlers violates Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and at the United Nations, Bangladesh government consistently and rightly sponsored resolutions and voted against the settlement of the Israelis in the Palestinian territories. Thus it is only natural that similar population transfer and expansion of settlements will draw the same condemnation for the government of Bangladesh.

We also continue to receive reports about grabbing of lands belonging to the Jumma people under various pretexts. A few examples are given below:

1.   The government acquired 9,650 acres of land in Bandarban for the expansion of Ruma garrison. On 22 March 2005 the government surveyed the area and put up poles marking the acquired land.

The government acquired the land despite protests from local people. The move will displace approximately one thousand families belonging to ethnic people such as Murang, Tripua and Marma. Most of them practice Jum cultivation in the area.

2.   The government has planned to acquire 183 acres of land in Balaghata in Bandarban district for the expansion of army brigade headquarter.

3.   The government has already acquired 11,446.24 acres of land in Sualok Union of Bandarban in the name of an Artillery Training Centre, uprooting 4 hundred indigenous families. Each family was provided a paltry sum of Taka 3 – 8 thousand as compensation.

4.   A process is now underway to acquire 26,000 acres of land in Bandarban for the construction of a training centre for the Bangladesh Air Force. The proposed site falls in Sualock Union of Bandarban as well as in Lama Thana.

5.   A plan to acquire 19,000 acres of land in Bandarban for the expansion of an Artillery Training centre is now under consideration.

6.   In Chimbuk of Bandarban a total of 5,600 acres of land have been acquired in the name of constructing an Eco Park.

7.   A process is now underway to acquire 5,500 acres of land in Sangu Mouza of Bandarban district in the name of creating an “Abhoyarannyo” (animal sanctuary).

8.   A process is underway to lease away 40,071 acres of land in Lama, Nikkyong Cahri, Alikadam and Bandarban Sadar to private individuals for rubber and tea plantation.

9.   The government issued land acquisition notices for the purpose of construction of a battalion headquarter for the Bangladesh Rifles in Babuchara in Khagrachari. It seeks to acquire 45 acres of land belonging to the Jumma people.

10. In Pujgang of Panchari under Khagrachari district the army acquired 450 acres of land after destroying the villages of the Jumma people. The army is now constructing a cantonment on the illegally occupied land.

We condemn such actions of your government in unequivocal terms and urge your government to take the following measures:

a.   scrap the plan to settle 65 thousand Bengali families in Sajek area under Rangamati district;

b.   stop the ongoing army-BDR drive to evict Jumma villagers in Sajek and take immediate steps to rehabilitate the evicted Jumma families;

c.   put an end to the land grabbing spree in the name of expansion of military and para military camps and training centres in the CHT;

d.   respect and recognise the customary land rights of the Jumma people and restore the illegally occupied lands to their rightful owners;

e.   withdraw the army and settlers from the CHT and grant the Jumma people right to self-determination.

f.    start a process of political dialogue with the leaders of Jumma political parties with a view to finding a just and durable solution to the problems of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Chichikko Chakma                09 July.2005

President

Jumma People’s Network-Japan

Contact: Saitama-Ken,Asaka-Shi, Negeshi dai3-8-26-801, Post Code 351-0005

Mail: jpnj1@hotmail.co.jp

Fax:(03)5338 4761



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