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On Vatican Radio – Sectarian violence flares up in south-east Bangladesh

Thousands of indigenous people in south-east Bangladesh are fleeing the wrath of Bengali Muslims settlers who blame them for the death of a local youth leader of Bangladesh’s ruling party,  AsiaNews reported.  Members of the mostly Buddhist Chakma community in Rangamati district fled after their homes were torched by angry Muslim mobs following the death of Nurul Islam Nayan, a leader of Jubo League, the youth organization of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League.  It is still unclear how Nayan died, but his body was found near a road on 1 June, but Bengali settlers nearby blamed it on the indigenous people, who reject the accusation.

“The culture of impunity and the state’s failure to protect indigenous people on the hills show that a slow genocide is taking place,” Theophil Nokrek, secretary of Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh (CBCB) said.  “The violence was pre-planned and part of annihilating indigenous peoples from hills, and the state mechanism was a cohort in the case,” Nokrek told UCANEWS.

The situation went out of control after the funeral of Nayan when Bengali Muslims marched to the headquarters of the United People’s Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, which represents indigenous tribes in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.  The mob set fire to the house of the party chairman, as well as its regional office, which also served as a community centre.  The victims complained the attackers sacked the buildings before setting them on fire.

Some 80 buildings, both residential and commercial, in Langadu, but people who fled the violence said at least 300 buildings were destroyed.   A 75-year old Chakma man is reported to have died inside a burning building.

Police arrested 10 people after gruesome violence and arson attacks on indigenous villagers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in southeastern Bangladesh.

Hundreds of people from the indigenous community, progressive cultural and political organizations, and civil society groups held protest rallies in the three Chittagong Hill Tracts districts and the national capital, Dhaka, June 2-4.

“The attack is an act of sectarian violence against tribal people,” indigenous groups say. “They attack us because we are weak.” Various advocacy groups, like AIN or Salish Kendra, slammed the attack, calling on the authorities to arrest and punish the perpetrators.

“The church supports the struggle of indigenous peoples and call for proper justice and compensation over the violence,” Nokrek‎ said.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh comprising three hill and forest districts, and are home to some 25 indigenous tribes, mostly Buddhist and some Christians.  Sectarian tensions have brewed in the area since the 1970s when the government began resettling thousands of landless Bengali Muslims by grabbing indigenous land, a deliberate attempt to change local demography.

Indigenous people resisted the influx and formed a militia group to fight back. In response, the government turned the area into a military zone leading to two decades of guerrilla war, which ended with a peace accord in 1997.  To this day, the region is heavily militarized. From time to time, the military and Muslims have been accused of abuse, and sectarian violence is rife.

The opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party on Sunday condemned the brutal the attacks on the innocent indigenous community and demanded immediate action against the perpetrators.  It also demanded the government track down the killers of local Jubo leader and mete out justice. (Source: AsiaNews/UCAN)

source: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/06/05/sectarian_violence_flares_up_in_south-east_bangladesh_/1316980

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