Monday, February 13, 2012

Government security forces stand idle as indigenous communities attacked in Bangladesh

The Hague, June 9, 2011
Houses burnt to ashes in arson attack on Jumma minority communities in Rangamati and Khagrachari, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh

Over one hundred houses and one school were  burnt to ashes in two different attacks against  indigenous minority communities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh in February and April leaving hundreds of indigenous men

Government security forces were present but did nothing to stop the attacks; rather they stood by passively and watched. Instead of promoting transparent investigations and reporting, the government proclaimed an ‘emergency curfew’ prohibiting any access to the area following the attacks.

In May 2011, Global Human Rights Defence’s (GHRD) local partner in Bangladesh, the only human rights organization to do so, led an undercover mission to the area investigating the attacks and took witness statements from many of the victims.

While the government has provided some compensation to the victims in the form of money (5000 Bangladesh taka per family – the equivalent of 46 euros) and foodstuffs, this is insufficient and many of those who lost their homes continue to live in tents or temporary shelter. The authorities have also failed to fully investigate the attacks or bring those responsible to justice, despite identification of the main perpetrators of the violence. At the time of writing of this press release no-one had yet been arrested.


 
During our team’s investigations, the local authorities expressed strong suspicion towards any international involvement in the region. Our observers were approached and questioned on multiple occasions by members of the Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB) and by the district special branch of police who requested information on the identity of the team, the organisation they worked for and purpose for their visit.
Land grabbing and disputes over land continue to be the main reason for attacks by Bengali settlers against the Jumma in the CHT region. Implementation of the 1997 Peace Accord was a major election promise of the ruling government, the Awami League. It is paramount that the government be held accountable for these promises and take action to bring peace to the region implement the Accord, and protect the homes and security of the indigenous peoples in the region.

GHRD collected police reports, photos and video statements from the location and is available to provide additional information upon request.
Video statement of the victim:2,3
If you would like more information please contact:

Jenny Lundström
Human Rights Officer
Global Human Rights Defence
Laan van Meerdervoort 70
2517 AN The Hague, The Netherlands
Tel: +31 (0)70 3450692
Email: jlundstrom@ghrd.org

Bangladesh: Arson attack on Jumma minority community in Khagrachari, Chittagong Hill Tracts [UA-BA-20-04-2011]
 
Bangladesh: Arson attack on Jumma minority community in Rangamati, Chittagong Hill Tracts [UA-BA-22-02-2011]  
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