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ACHR Press Release – Bangladesh burns more tribal villages

23 February 2010:

Press Release

Bangladesh burns more tribal villages
-Government asked to give access to massacre sites-

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) condemned burning down of
more villages of indigenous Chakma and tribal peoples today i.e. 23
February 2010 under Khagrachari district of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs),
Bangladesh. Dozens of houses were set on fire at Mahajanpara and Milanpur
villages at Khagrachari by the illegal plain settlers with the backing of
the Bangladesh Army personnel at the time of issuing this press release.
The illegal plain settlers took advantage of a strike called by the United
Peoples Democratic Front, a political party of the indigenous Jumma
peoples, protesting against the killings of indigenous Jumma people at
Sajek Union under Rangamati district on 19-20 February 2010.

Releasing its report, “Bangladesh: IPs Massacred for Land Grab”
(http://www.achrweb.org/reports/bangla/CHT012010.pdf), Asian
Centre for Human Rights demanded that the government of Bangladesh
provides immediate and unrestricted access to massacre sites. The
government of Bangladesh has so far denied access to the sites where
scores of indigenous Chakmas in 14 villages under Sajek Union were
massacred on 19-20 February 2010.

The ACHR stated that at least eight Chakmas were shot dead by the
Bangladesh army personnel while dozens were injured on 19-20 February
2010. The injured ones who went to government hospital for treatment of
bullet injuries sustained in the firing by the Bangladesh army personnel
were shown arrested in connection with the attacks on indigenous Jumma
peoples since 19 February 2010.

In order to prevent the truth from coming out, the Bangladesh army
personnel have prevented any independent observer including journalists
and human rights activists from visiting the affected areas to hide the
truth. On 20 February 2010, two journalists from the Bengal dailies –
“Samakal” and “Prothom Alo” – who tried to visit the affected areas were
attacked. The motorbike of “Samakal” correspondent was burnt down by the
illegal plain settlers.

“It is established beyond any reasonable doubt that the Bangladesh army is
denying access to the sites to prevent the truth from coming out. The
arrest of six Chakmas who got admitted at Baghachari army camp with bullet
injuries sustained in the firing of the Bangladesh Army for alleged
rioting is a direct attempt to discourage the indigenous peoples from
approaching the authorities and therefore, keep the massacre under the
carpet.” – stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human

ACHR questioned the silence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who has
recently been awarded Indira Gandhi Peace Award by the government of
India, among others, for promoting“peace by resolving a long standing
insurgency (problem) in Bangladesh by concluding the Chittagong Hill
Tracts Peace Accord”f. ACHR has urged the Prime Minister to order a
judicial inquiry into the killings of indigenous peoples at Sajek to be
completed in ninety days, prosecute the culprits, provide proper
resettlement and rehabilitation to the victims; terminate the military
operation “Uttaran” in the CHTs, withdraw all the military forces to the
cantonments and fully implement the CHTs Accord of 1997. [Ends]
[Should you require any further information, please contact Mr Suhas
Chakma at 09810893440]

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