Tuesday, February 23, 2010

URGENT APPEAL:Bangladesh: attack on Jumma villages by military forces and Bengali settlers in Rangamati

23 February 2010,

The Hague, The Netherlands

URGENT APPEAL: Bangladesh: attack on Jumma villages by military forces and Bengali settlers in Rangamati [UA-BA-23.02.2010]

ISSUES:  CHT, Killings of minorities, looting, destruction of houses and temples.

Dear Friends,

Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD)  wishes to express its deepest concern over the brutal attacks against Jumma villagers by the  military forces and Bengali settlers in Baghaihat area in Rangamati, Bangladesh on 19-20 February 2010.  It is reported that at least five Jumma villagers were killed and many were wounded in the attack. Jumma houses including a Buddhist temple and a church were burnt to ashes, according to the information received by GHRD.

CASE DETAILS:

According to information received by local organizations, PCJSS Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti), and the Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), on the afternoon of 19 February 2010 a group of Bengali settlers went to the Gangaran Duar area and put pillars on the land of indigenous Jumma villagers to construct a house there. Immediately the Jumma villagers protested and opposed the Bengali settlers.

Around 8.30 pm hundreds of Bengali settlers led by leaders of the so-called Sama Odhikar Andolon under full protection by a group of the army from Baghaihat zone of 8 Bir Bengal gathered at Gangaram Duar area and set fire to the houses of Jumma villagers. At that time at least 35 houses, including 7 shops, a church and a UNDP-run village centre were burnt down in three Jumma villages of Gangaram Duar, Chaminichara and Baluchara. Jumma villagers alleged that Bengali settlers looted their valuables while burning the houses. The villagers fled into the jungle during the attack.

The villagers returned to their homes the next morning and gathered in Gangaram to protest the arson. The Bengali settlers returned equipped with sharp weapons, machetes and sticks. At 10.00 am tension mounted throughout the area while the army and Bengali settlers ordered the Jumma villagers to leave the area but they refused to comply; the army started to beat the Jumma indiscriminately. One Jumma villager cut Sergeant Rezaul Karim while being brutally beaten, the army retaliated, firing their guns at the villager leaving him dead.

Following this, the army opened fire on the Jumma villagers indiscriminately without any sort of provocation, leaving at least. It is still not clear how many Jumma villagers were killed, but at least five have been identified and approximately 25 were wounded, and 3 villagers were arrested. It is reported that at least another 160 houses were torched at that time. Bengali settlers also burnt Banani Bana Vihar, a Buddhist temple. The monk of the vihara Ven. Purnabas Bhikkhu fled the temple. One statue of Buddha and another one which was given by the Thai government were looted. As they continued the arson attacks, the indigenous community began resisting them.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

In light of the above, GHRD and BIHR demands an impartial investigation forming a judicial enquiry committee headed by a high court judge and to publish the report ASAP. We strongly urges the local police authorities to follow-up on the investigation of this attack and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The victims must receive necessary legal assistance and adequate compensation for the damages caused.

We also demand the full implementation  of the CHT Accord immediately and specifically urges that a roadmap is developed with a clear timeframe for speedy and proper implementation of the CHT Accord.

In order to help, please print the following sample letter and send it to the relevant authorities found below.

Sample letter:

Dear ___________,

Bangladesh: attack on Jumma villages by military forces and Bengali settlers in Rangamati

I am deeply concerned with the news received from Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) and Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) regarding the attacks against Jumma villages, by the military forces and Bengali settlers in Baghaihat area in Rangamati on 19-20 February 2010.

I am told that at least five Jumma villagers were killed and many were wounded in the attack. Jumma houses including a Buddhist temple and a church were burnt to ashes.

According to information received by GHRD from local organizations, on the afternoon of 19 February 2010 a group of Bengali settlers went to the Gangaran Duar area and put pillars on the land of indigenous Jumma villagers to construct a house there. Immediately the Jumma villagers protested and opposed the Bengali settlers.

Around 8.30 pm hundreds of Bengali settlers led by leaders of the so-called Sama Odhikar Andolon under full protection by a group of army from Baghaihat zone of 8 Bir Bengal gathered at Gangaram Duar area and set fire to the houses of Jumma villagers. At that time at least 35 houses, including 7 shops, a church and a UNDP-run village centre were burnt down in three Jumma villages of Gangaram Duar, Chaminichara and Baluchara. Jumma villagers alleged that Bengali settlers looted their valuables while burning the houses. The villagers fled into the jungle during the attack.
I was also informed that the villagers returned to their homes the next morning and gathered in Gangaram to protest the arson. The Bengali settlers then returned equipped with sharp weapons, machetes and sticks. At 10.00 am tension mounted throughout the area while the army and Bengali settlers ordered the Jumma villagers to leave the area but as they refused to comply, the army started to beat the Jumma indiscriminately. One Jumma villager cut Sergeant Rezaul Karim while being brutally beaten, the army retaliated, firing their guns at the villager leaving him dead.
Following this, the army opened fire on the Jumma villagers indiscriminately without any sort of provocation, leaving at least five dead and approximately 25 wounded. It is reported that another 160 houses were torched at that time. Bengali settlers also burnt Banani Bana Vihar, a Buddhist temple. The monk of the vihara Ven. Purnabas Bhikkhu fled the temple. Buddha statutes were looted. As they continued the arson attacks, the indigenous community began resisting them.

I therefore request you to ensure that an impartial investigation forming a judicial enquiry committee headed by a high court judge and to publish the report ASAP. I strongly urge the local police authorities to follow-up on the investigation of this case and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The victims must receive necessary legal assistance and adequate compensation for the damages caused.

I also demand the full implementation  of the CHT Accord immediately and urges that a roadmap is developed with a clear timeframe for speedy and proper implementation of the CHT Accord.

I trust that you will take immediate action on this serious matter.

Yours sincerely,

-----------------------------

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mrs. Sheikh Hasina     
Prime Minister
Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Office of the Prime Minister
Tejgaon, Dhaka
BANGLADESH
Fax: +880 2 811 3244 / 3243 / 1015 / 1490
Tel: +880 2 882 816 079 / 988 8677
E-mail: pm@pmo.gov.bd or ps1topm@pmo.gov.bd or psecy@pmo.gov.bd


2. Barrister Shafique Ahmed
Minister
Ministry of Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs
Bangladesh Secretariat
Dhaka-1000
BANGLADESH
Tel: +880 2 7160627
Fax: +880 2 7168557

3. Ms. Sahara Khatun MP
Minister
Ministry of Home Affairs
Bangladesh Secretariat
Dhaka-1000
BANGLADESH
Tel: +880 2 7169069
Fax: +880 2 7160405, 880 2 7164788

4. Mr. Nur Mohammad
Inspector General of Police (IGP)
Bangladesh Police
Police Headquarters'
Fulbaria, Dhaka-1000
BANGLADESH
Fax: +880 2 956 3362 / 956 3363
Tel: +880 2 956 2054 / 717 6451 / 717 6677
E-mail: ig@police.gov.bd

5. Md. Asaduz Zaman Mia, PPM
Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG)
Chittagong Range Bangladesh Police Office of the DIG of Chittagong Range
Chittagong BANGLADESH
Tel: +88 031 650120/+88 031 655466 (O)
Fax: +88 031 652111 (O)


6. Mr. Dipankar Talukdar MP
Honorable State Minister
CHT Affairs Ministry
Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Bangladesh Secretariat,
Dhaka BANGLADESH
Tel: +880-2- 7161774

7. Mr. Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma
Chairman
CHT Regional Council
Rangamati, Chittagong Hill Tracts
BANGLADESH
Tel: +88-0351-63381;Fax: 0351-63278

8. General Md Abdul Mubeen
Chief of Army Staff
Bangladesh Army
Army Headquarters
Dhaka Cantonment, Dhaka
BANGLADESH
Fax: +880 2 875 4455, Tel: +880 2 987 0011

9. Justice (Rtd) Amirul Kabir Chowdhury
Chairman
Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission
House # 6/3, Block # D, Lalmatia, Dhaka BANGLADESH
Tel: +88 02 9137724
Fax: 088-02-9137743


Please send us a copy of any action that has been taken distributing our message, and a copy of any responses received.

Thank you.

This message has been sent by GHRD* to local authorities and International Organisations in order to spread the message, increase awareness, and encourage action be taken to bring perpetrators of human rights violations to justice.

URGENT ACTION: Take promt action regarding the death of Arif due to torture by RAB-4


URGENT ACTION: Take promt action regarding to death under police custody


NEWSPAPER CLIPS: Statement on the incident of Baghaichhari

:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT: Monthly Human Rights Report (Jan 2010) by GHRD


 
Publishing date: 1st February 2010
 
Introduction
Commencing in 2010, GHRD publishes monthly human rights reports, featuring our current cases, urgent appeals, and activities in Bangladesh but also highlighting incidents and news relating to minorities reported in media during the month. GHRD collaborates with local organisations and observers who conducts media monitoring, fact finding and provides legal assistance to minorities in Bangladesh.

In January, several incidents of minority repression was reported, especially attacks and violence targeting Dalits and indigenous people, who live in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Breaking News!

The National Human Rights Commission orders investigation in harassment case against GHRD observer Rabindra Ghosh

The Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission issued an order on January 20, 2010 regarding the case of harassment of Adv. Rabindra Ghosh. The order
stated that the allegation received from the Global Human Rights Defence and Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) should be investigated by an Additional Inspector General of Police (Ad). It also requested the Inspector General of Police (IGP), to submit a report by February 28, 2010 regarding the action taken.

Rabindra Ghosh was physically assaulted and threatened by the Police during an investigation on 10th January. This incident is one of many that has taken place over the years, were Mr. Ghosh has been exposed to threats and assault as a result of his work.

‘The recent order may create a sense of responsibility amongst police officers in general in the future in dealing with the human rights defenders’, says Rabindra Ghosh.

Legal assistance

The abduction of a 12 year old Hindu girl

GHRD continued to pursue the case of a 12 year old Hindu girl who was abducted on the 18th December 2009. The case is under the section of Women and Children Repression Act. According to the parents, the perpetrators are threatening them not to pursue with the case. The girl is still missing.

Partners Reports


 
this advice due to threats from the Perpetrators. Parittran picked the victim up later that night, and admitted him to the Monirampur Upazilla Government Health Complex. Parittran have been told by the local administration that they will handle all the costs for the victim’s medical treatment. However, only one out of the four perpetrators has been arrested.

Parittran, 9th January 2010

Dalit leaders urge for the immediate arrest of the murderer of a Dalit man

On the 16th January a 28 year old Dalit man was beaten to death. GHRD supported Parittran in an action raising awareness to his murder. Leaders from the Jhenaidah Dalit Parishad, a group working for the rights of Dalits in Bangladesh urged for the immediate action to arrest the perpetrators during a press conference on the 28th January 2010.

 
The acting president of Jhenaidah Dalit Parishad briefed the press and said that if the local police did not arrest the killer within seven days, they will protest. Thousands of people from the Dalit community formed a human chain and wore black bandanas as part of the protest. Dalit leaders also submitted a memorandum to the District Commissioner of Jhenaidah.


 
When the women later tried to file a case against the two perpetrators the police refused to register any complaints against the Sub Inspector. But due to pressure from women rights activists and the media, a case has now been started against three perpetrators, including the Sub Inspector and the hotel manager. It is also reported that the Sub Inspector has been suspended from his position.

Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), 25th January 2010

Indigenous human rights defender and his wife attacked

On 22nd January, a human rights defender and his wife were attacked as they returned home after attending a meeting at Ranikhnong Catholic Mission, in Netrokona District. The man is very active in Indigenous Rights Nationally and internationally he is also the Secretary General of the Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum. The attack is suspected to be set up by a political leader after the indigenous man accused him of corruption. One of the perpetrators was arrested on 24th January, but allegedly the political leader is trying to influence the local authorities to release him from custody.

Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR), 24th January 201

Urgent Appeals
Bangladesh: Ensure the protection of human rights defender Mr.Rabindra Ghosh [UA-BA-13.01.2010]  
Bangladesh: A 28 year old Dalit man dies after being physically assaulted [UA-BA-27.01.2010] 

Media and NGO Reports
This month several incidents of minority repression have been reported, especially attacks and violence targeting indigenous people, who live in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

A Jumma boy physically assaulted by Bengali settlers

A 12 year old Jumma boy was injured on 2nd January, in Rangmati District. The boy and his father went to the jungle to collect bamboos when approximately five to six Bengali settlers attacked them, by throwing sharp objects at them. One of the objects hit the boy which left him with a deep wound on his leg. He was taken to the hospital on 3rd January. A case has begun at the Naniarchar Police Station, but so far none of the perpetrators have been arrested.

Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) 3rd January 2010

An indigenous leader shot by UPDF armed forces

A leader of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti (PCJSS), a political organisation working for the rights of indigenous people in Chittagong Hill Tracts, was shot on 2nd January, in Rangmati District. The man had just left his home when he was stopped by armed forces of United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF), a political party based in Chittagong Hill Tracts. There was a confrontation between the man and the forces which resulted in the man being shot in the hand. After the incident the municipal branch of PCJSS in Rangmati town held a protest meeting. Speakers demanded the arrest of the perpetrators. They also expressed their concern regarding the local administrations passive role to prevent the continuing criminal activities, carried out by the UPDF forces. They also demanded the immediate implementation of the CHT Accord.

Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) 3rd January 2010

Bengali settlers occupy the land of Jumma villagers

Since 17th January 2010, Bengali settlers with the help of the army have been occupying lands of Jumma villagers, in the Sajek area of Rangamati District. So far the Bengali settlers have build several houses on their premises. Incidents of physical attacks have also occurred. Allegedly, on 21st January, two Jumma youths were taken to the office of the security personnel of the army, where they were assaulted. That same day security personnel also beat up Jumma villagers, including women at the market. Eight people were injured. This alleged incident was denied by one of the security personnel of the Khagrachhari Brigade. Two other attacks allegedly took place on 24th January. In the first incident, Bengali settlers attacked few Jumma people at the Rangmati District, leaving four people injured. During another incident three students and one teacher were injured after Bengali settlers attacked a hostel where a high school class had been staying. The Minister for the CHT Affairs Ministry visited the Baghaichari area, but according to the local villagers no actions have been taken thus far to prevent or improve the ongoing situation.

Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), 22nd January 2010
The Daily Star, 23rd January 2010
Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights, 24th January 2010

The local organisation Odhikar has released their Human Rights Monitoring Report from January. Read the full report here
 

GHRD Dhaka conducts fact finding investigations and provides legal assistance to minority victims of human rights violations in Bangladesh.

GHRD Dhaka, Observer Advocate Rabindra Ghosh
3/2 Purana Paltan – Purana Paltan P.S, Dhaka-1000
Telephone : + 0711172468 (BANGLADESH)

In addition GHRD Dhaka, collaborates with Parittran (Dalit Rights), Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights, Bangladesh Rehabilitation Centre for Trauma Victims and Justice foundation.