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.
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