Chittagong Hill Tracts: ‘Landgrabbing’ Must Stop
Representatives of the Jumma people have put pressure on the Government to investigate what is seen by many as illegal, military-orchestrated settlement operations, depriving the indigenous population of their land.
Below are extracts from a letter on behalf of several NGOs to the Chief Adviser of the Interim Bangladeshi Government:
Dr. Fakruddin Ahmed
Interim Caretaker Government
People's Republic of
Subject: Concern at illegal and forcible occupation of land belonging to the Jumma people in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).
We are writing to express our deep concern over what appears to be planned and systematic campaign of the settlers and members of the
We have come to know from various sources that
To highlight the recent land grabbing pattern, I take the liberty of citing a few cases below:
a. Unsolicited arbitration by army: gross injustice
On 19 July 2007, Betchari sub-zone commander Major Qamrul Hassan (37 Bengal, 4 Bir) in Bara Merung called an unsolicited arbitration meeting in his camp and in a whimsical verbal judgment gave away 13 Kani (5.2 acres) of land belonging to three Jumma villagers to other three settler families namely Sirajul Islam, his brother Nazrul Islam s/o Kashem Ali and Md. Yunus s/o Abdul Mannan of Rashik Nagar village.
Of the 13 Kanis, 5 kanis each belongs to Sadhan Chakma s/o Bandara Chakma and Lalit Kumar Chakma s/o Ranga Mua Chakma, and 3 kanis to Bilati Chakma s/o Megh Raj Chakma.
The Jummas had been in the possession of these lands since the time of
b. Unsolicited arbitration: Supriya Chakma's land taken away
Mrs. Supriya Chakma is the head teacher of
d. Fresh attempt at expansion of Bengali settlement in Sadhana Tila, Babuchara
According to sources, the army is making desperate attempt to settle 812 Bengali families on approximately 300 acres of land in Sadhana Tila under Babuchara in Dighinala Upazilla of Khagrachari district. The settlers have begun clearing the land since 13 August. The area houses a Buddhist temple and a sizable Jumma settlement. If the plan is implemented, the temple will be destroyed, many Jummas will be evicted and dispute over land will increase dramatically.
We want to believe that the recent land grab incidents have been committed without knowledge of the government and that your government does not support and tolerate such activities. In our opinion a vested interest group within the military establishment in CHT may have orchestrated those incidents knowing full well that they would cause disturbance and embarrass your government.
We are aware that since assumption of office on 12 January this year, your interim caretaker government has taken a number of courageous measures including reclamation of illegally occupied lands and canals. While we appreciate your government for bringing the land grabbers to justice, we regret to note that such measures are confined merely to the plain districts and that no such measures have been taken so far to reclaim the land of the Jumma people in CHT.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts in the southeastern corner of
The government authorities of
We, therefore, appeal to the interim caretaker government of
We also urge your government to take the following measures in the interest of the people of the CHT:
a. To immediately stop illegal land grabbing in CHT including Merung, Boalkhali and various parts of Bandarban and return the illegally occupied lands to their rightful owners.
b. To cancel the plan to resettle illegal settlers in Sadhana Tila in Babuchara under Dighinala Thana of Khagrachari district;
c. To stop using the settlers as a tool of national oppression against Jumma people and to agree in principle to rehabilitate them in plain districts with means of livelihood;
d. To take legal actions against those army officers and settlers who would be found guilty of land grabbing and inciting communal tension;
e. To stop all kinds of repression and human rights violations in CHT;
f. To lift the state of “emergency” and to restore all political and civil rights of the citizen of
g. To withdraw all military camps from the
On behalf of the following organizations
Jumma People's Network –
Imagination for International solidarity (IFIS)
Secretary General, Buddhist solidarity for reform (BSR)
Oh Kyungseok. Research Professor. Academy of Democratic Society and Policy.
Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS)
Ministry of foreign affairs,
Embassy of the united state of
United Nations high commissioner for Human rights
Embassies of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional cooperation):