CHTC expresses concern over setting fire on Jum plantation in Lama

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Hill Voice, 30 April 2022, Special Correspondent: The International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC) is very worried to learn that a corporate group, Lama Rubber Industries Limited, has set fire on 100 acres of Jum plantation of indigenous Mro people in Langkom Karbari Para of Lama Upazila of Bandarban district.

In a press statement of CHT Commission, signed by its three Co-Chairs, namely, Sultana Kamal, Elsa Stamatopoulou and Myrna Cunningham Kain dated on 30 April, the Commission demands immediate and impartial investigation, legal action against the perpetrators, and protection of the Mro and their Jum land.

The press statement further said that according to the media, on 26 April, individuals associated with Lama Rubber Industries Limited set fire to about 100 acres of Mro Jum land containing rice fields and fruit plantations as a tactic to occupy Mro land.

Based on interviews, the Daily Star reports that Lama Rubber Industries Limited has been trying to evict the local Mro people living in Langkom Karbari Para, Joychandra Tripura Karbari Para, and Rangen Karbari Para of Sarai union under Lama Upazila of Bandarban for a long time. The group had allegedly grabbed 300 acres of land belonging to the Mro, and when the Mro people protested, the group filed several court cases against them. To get justice, on 20 March 2022, a group of Mro from the mentioned areas organized a human chain in front of the Bandarban district commissioner’s office demanding Prime Minister’s intervention to save their livelihood and land. Karbari Langkom Mro noted to the reporter that the Mro community leaders also met Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing, the minister of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs, and demanded protection and security. However, the local administration did not take any steps to protect the Mro people and their Jum land.

The CHT Commission is alarmed by the continuous and widespread land-grabbing and acts of violence including arson by corporate entities in the CHT, and the government’s repeated failure to provide safety and security of the Indigenous Peoples. Expressing concern over gradual and repeated land grabbing by influential entities in the CHT, 24 eminent citizens of the country recently stated that over the last three decades, the ownership of indigenous community’s land in the CHT has decreased by 51 percent.

The CHT Commission urges the Government of Bangladesh to take immediate steps to stop land grabbing in the CHT, initiate an impartial investigation of allegations against Lama Rubber Industries Limited’s occupation of Mro land, and bring to account those responsible. The Commission also appeals to the Chair of the National Human Rights Commission to intervene and requests the government to provide immediate food support and compensate the families who have been affected by the fire.

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