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Sajek inquiry team holds discussion in Dhaka

News No. 89/2008, May 22, 2008

The Sajek citizen inquiry team held a discussion today in front of DUCSU Cafe on Dhaka University campus to mark the launch of its report on 20 April Sajek arson attack.

Presided over by Moshrefa Mishu, convenor of Biplobi Okyo Front, who led the team during its visit to Sajek on 27 April, the discussion was also addressed by Dr. Meghna Guhathakurta, Executive Director of Research Initiative Bangladesh, Dr. Akmal Hossain, professor, department of International Relations, Dhaka University, Said Ferdous, teacher of Anthropology Department, Jahangirnagar University and Parth Shankar Shaha, a researcher with Society for Environment and Human Development (SEHD).

The discussion which began at 4:30 pm was conducted by Udisha Islam, one of the members of the Sajek inquiry team.

Ms Moshrefa Mishu narrated her team’s experience during its visit to Sajek in the aftermath of a communal attack on four Jumma villages by illegal settlers with full backing of the local military personnel.

Dr. Meghna Guhathakurta said the army had no right to stay in CHT as it has failed to guarantee people’s security within a radius of 3/4 km of their camps. “How can they just look on while the houses were in flame” she asked. “The army which cannot save lives and property of the people has no right to stay in CHT” she asserted.

Professor Dr. Akmal Hossain said there was a conspiracy to wipe out the ethnic Jumma people by killing their distinct languages. He said “we must recognise the right of the Jumma people to have education up to primary level through the medium of their own language.” He demanded that the government should accord recognition to the languages of the ethnic minorities of the country.

Sayeed Ferdous termed the army version of the Sajek incident as their desperate attempt to justify their continued presence in the CHT. He said the army must make its position vis a vis CHT clear. “The army cannot absolve its responsibility about the Sajek attack by merely shifting the blame on unknown terrorists” he said.

Parth Shankar Shaha narrated his own experience on his visit to Sajek to investigate the incident.

The discussion was followed by a play titled “Shing-a” staged by artiste activists of Hatiar Nattyogosti. The play depicts army repression and attack on innocent Jumma people in CHT.

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