Aug 13, 2013

Chittagong Hill Tracts: AI Calls For Restoration Of Lands

Amnesty International has recommended that Bangladesh should take concrete steps to restore the land rights of ethnic minorities in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Below is an article published by the

In a recent article published in its official blog, the AI also claimed that about 90,000 people of the ethnic minority communities still remain internally displaced, reports UNB.

Published in the AI global human rights blog, Live Wire, the article says: “Bangladesh must respect its obligations under international human rights law - including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Labour Organisation Convention on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples No.107 - and take concrete steps to return the Paharis’ traditional lands to them, with the effective participation of Pahari women and men in the process.”

The article titled ‘Bangladesh must restore land rights of indigenous people’ was written by Madhu Mal-hotra, director of Amnesty International’s Gender, Identity and Sexuality Programme.

Madhu observed that years of official neglect and exclusion of Paharis from its decision making has turned the CHT Land Commission ‘little more than an empty shell.’

The CHT Land Commission could play a crucial role in solving the protracted land disputes, she wrote.

“A new bill on the Commission was introduced in parliament in June this year - this has to be taken serious-ly by the government, and the Commission should be assigned the resources and priority it needs to per-form its function,” she added.

Madhu noted that the authorities’ failure to address land rights in the CHT has not only left tens of thou-sands of ethnic minority people homeless, deprived of traditional land rights, but also fueled tensions with Bengali settlers, frequently leading to into violent clashes.

“Pahari tend to suffer disproportionately in the violence, which has over recent years left hundreds of Pa-hari families homeless,” she wrote.

“The peace accord also called for the removal of all temporary army camps from the region, but the CHT still remains the country’s most militarized region today,” she added.

Madhu observed that the combination of heavy military presence, the inflow of Bangalee settlers and the unresolved land issue ‘makes for a violent mix.’

“Clashes between the Pahari and Bengali settlers are common, often affecting the Pahari badly, who feel the military tend to take the Bengalis’ side,” she added.