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UN approached against destruction of 300 of tribal houses in the Chittagong Hill Tracts

UN approached against destruction of 300 of tribal houses
in the Chittagong Hill Tracts

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights today sought intervention of the
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Justice Louise Arbour
against the forcible eviction of thousands of indigenous tribal peoples
by the government of Bangladesh to sponsor settlement of an estimated
65,000 mainstream Muslim settler families in Sajek Union under Rangmati
district of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs), bordering Mizoram State of

“The sponsored settlement of 65,000 plain settler families which equals
almost 3,90,000 persons with each family comprising of at least six
persons, will increase the population of the CHTs by over 25%, completely
alter the demographic composition of the region and evict thousands of
indigenous peoples. This is nothing but ethnic cleansing of the
indigenous tribal peoples who are ethnically, culturally and religiously
different from the mainstream Muslim settlers.” – stated Mr Suhas Chakma,
Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

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 and majority of the settlers will be settled in
Baghaihat-Sajek road in the dense Kassalong reserve forest. Between 1979
and 1983, the government of Bangladesh had settled about 500,000 plain
settlers in violation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts 1900 Regulation. The
plain settlers conducted over a dozen massacres to grab the lands of
indigenous tribal peoples.

“The population transfer of the plain settlers violates Article 49 of the
Fourth Geneva Conventions and at the United Nations, Bangladesh
government consistently and rightly sponsored resolutions and voted
against the settlement of the Israelis in the Palestinian territories.
But, back home in the CHTs, the government practices similar population
transfer policies. This hypocrisy must be condemned.”- stated Mr Chakma.

Asian Centre for Human Rights requested UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights to intervene with the government of Bangladesh to stop its
transfer of 65,000 plains settlers in Sajek Union which will make
indigenous peoples minority in their lands and allow the UN Special
Rapporteur on human rights and fundamental freedom of indigenous peoples
to visit Bangladesh.

Source : ACHR

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