Tuesday, February 22, 2011

FORWARDED APEEAL:BANGLADESH: Arson attack on Jumma minority community in Rangamati, Chittagong Hill Tracts


Dear Friends,
Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) is forwarding the urgent appeal from Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD), Netherlands regarding Arson attack on Jumma minority community in Rangamati, Chittagong Hill Tracts.



BANGLADESH INSTITUTE OF HUMAN RIGHTS URGENT APPEAL PROGRAMME


FORWARDED URGENT APPEAL : BIHR-FUA-01-2011

DATE: February 22, 2011


BANGLADESH: Arson attack on Jumma minority community in Rangamati, Chittagong Hill Tracts


ISSUES:  Minority rights, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Right to Property, Destruction of houses and schools


Dear Friends,
Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) is forwarding the urgent appeal from Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD), Netherlands regarding Arson attack on Jumma minority community in Rangamati, Chittagong Hill Tracts.




Urgent Appeal Desk

Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR)




The Hague, The Netherlands

URGENT APPEAL: BANGLADESH: Arson attack on Jumma minority community in Rangamati, Chittagong Hill Tracts [UA-BA-22-02-2011]
                                                                                     
ISSUES:  Minority rights, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Right to Property, Destruction of houses and schools

       












Dear Friends,
 
On 17 February 2011, around 200-250 Bengali settlers attacked the Jumma villages of Gulshakhali and Rangi Para areas in the Rangamati district of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Around 23 houses of Jumma villagers and one school were burnt to ashes and two Jumma students were seriously injured.
This event has been highlighted and verified by various organisations including Parbattya Chattgram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS), the Kapaeeng Foundation, The Jumma Peoples Network UK and GHRD’s local partner organisation, the Bangladesh Institute for Human Rights (BIHR). GHRD wishes to add its voice to these organisations in condemning these attacks and demanding justice for those Jumma villagers who were subject to the attacks.

Case Details     
On 17 February 2011 around 200-250 Bengali settlers from the Gulshakhali settler area under Longadu Upazila in Rangamati district staged demonstrations and attacked and set fire to the Jumma villages of Gulshakhali and Rangi Para areas in the Rangamati district of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

The event occurred shortly after the death of a Bengali settler who went to collect firewood in the forest on Tuesday and did not return. His body was found in Rangipara on Wednesday. The Bengali settlers then carried his dead body during the demonstrations, creating tension and allegedly accusing the Jumma of being responsible for his death. They mounted an arson attack burning around 23 Jumma houses and one school to ashes (the exact number of houses is as yet unknown) and injuring two Jumma students. The reported number of houses burned down varies, while the PCJSS estimates around 23 houses burned, the officer-in-charge of Longudu Police Station said he heard about 12-14 houses being burnt and this number is confirmed by the Kapaeeng Foundation.

According to PCJSS, Jumma villagers gathered themselves and tried to defend the remaining houses and face off the Bengali settlers. Jumma leaders also informed the local administration including police. However, according to BIHR and PCJSS, no action was taken by the police to stop Bengali settlers from attacking. Furthermore, those watching the attacks saw members of the Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB) who stood by as onlookers while the Bengali settlers set fire to the Jumma houses. It is also alleged by PCJSS that the attack was mounted under the leadership of the Bagachatar union council chairman Wazed Ali and Gulishakhali union council chairman Abdur Rahim, who is also general secretary of Langadu upazila Awami League. This has been denied by Wazed Ali who argued that the BGB intervened quickly and brought the situation under control. However, this is contrary to eye witness reports which confirmed that the BGB stood by watching and stayed silent during the attacks, effectively encouraging the arsonists.


Recommendations
This pattern of attacks is not new but rather follows numerous past instances when Bengali settlers have attacked the indigenous Jumma. GHRD expresses its concern and condemns the violence that has occurred against the indigenous Jumma villages on this occasion and in the past few years. Taking into consideration that this incident is not an isolated event, GHRD urges the authorities to:
    1. Take all necessary measures to restore tolerance in the area and ensure the future safety of the indigenous people subject to attack
    2. Thoroughly and impartially investigate the event and identify the main perpetrators, bringing those responsible to justice
    3. Ensure exemplary punishment of the perpetrators who were directly or indirectly involved in this violation of human rights
    4. Investigate the involvement of the Bangladesh Border Guards in these attacks
    5. Investigate and reprimand the lack of action taken by the authorities to stop the attacks, despite being at the scene
    6. Take all measures to fulfil the election promises two years ago and to fully implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord
    7. Issue instructions to military, para-military, police and para-police personnel posted in the CHT to protect all communities without discrimination and to provide communities that have a recent history of such attacks or vulnerability special protection.
    8. Ensure the cooperation of the National Human Rights Commission of Bangladesh.
In order to help, please print the following sample letter and send it to the relevant authorities found below:



Sample letter:

Dear ­­­_____________,

I would like to express my concern about the news I received from Global Human Rights Defence of the arson attacks against Jumma villages in the Rangamati area of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. According to the information I received from GHRD on the 22 February 2011, upwards of 200 Bengali settlers launched demonstrations and arson attacks against Jumma villages in the Gulshakhali and Rangi Para areas in the Rangamati district, burning down 23 Jumma houses and one school and injuring two Jumma students. The event followed the death of a Bengali settler, who went to collect firewood in the forest on Tuesday and did not return. The event occurred shortly after the death of a Bengali settler who went to collect firewood in the forest on Tuesday and did not return. His body was found in Rangipara on Wednesday. The Bengali settlers then carried his dead body during the demonstrations, creating tension and allegedly accusing the Jumma of being responsible for his death.

According to PCJSS, Jumma villagers gathered themselves and tried to defend the remaining houses and face off the Benglai settlers. Jumma leaders also informed the local police who arrived at the scene but stood by silent, taking no action to stop the attacks. Furthermore, eye witnesses alleged that Bengali settlers were backed by members of Border Guards of Bangladesh who stood by as onlookers during the attacks.  It is also alleged by PCJSS that the attack was mounted under the leadership of the Bagachatar union council chairman Wazed Ali and Gulishakhali union council chairman Abdur Rahim, who is also general secretary of Langadu upazila Awami League. This has been denied by Wazed Ali who argued that the BGB intervened quickly and brought the situation under control. However, this is contrary to eye witness reports which confirmed that the BGB stood by watching and stayed silent during the attacks, effectively encouraging the arsonists.

Following these terrible attacks, I request the authorities to restore tolerance in the locality, ensure the future safety of the indigenous Jumma who were subject to the attack, and investigate and prosecute those directly and indirectly responsible. I also request an investigation into the involvement of the Bangladesh Border Guards in this attack.

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

Yours sincerely,


-----------------------------
In order to help, please write to the authorities listed below: 



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. Hasan Mahmud Khonder
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. Prof. Mizanur Rahman
Chairman
Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission
Gulfeshan Plaza, 10th Floor
8, journalist Selina Parvin Road
Mogbazar, Dhaka
Ph: +88 02 8331492
Fax: +88 02 8333219
Email: nhrc.bd@gmail.com 

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




Thank you.



Global Human Rights Defence  
Urgent Appeals Desk
Laan van Meerdervoort 70
2517 AN The Hague
The Netherlands
+31(0)070 3456975
+31(0)703926575

Thank you. 



Adv. Shahanur Islam Saikot
LL.B (Hon's); LL.M (Law & Justice)
JusticeMakers Fellow '10, Switzerland


Secretary General/Executive Director
Bangladesh Institute of Human Rights (BIHR)
Flat # B-17, 27, Bijoy Nagar, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
Email: saikotbihr@gmail.com, bihr.bd@gmail.com
Cell: + 88 017 20308080, Ph: +88 02 9349851
Fax: + 88 028352166,Skype:"saikot.bihr" or "bihr.bd"
www.bihr-bihr.blogspot.com
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