Hill Voice, 19 November 2020, Special Reporter: The Human Rights Forum Bangladesh has expressed concern on and protested against the joint initiative of Sikder Group and Sena Kalyan Trust (Army Welfare Trust) to build a five-star hotel and tourist facility by occupying and evicting the indigenous Mros lands in the heart of Chimbuk hill in Bandarban. It also demanded immediate halt to construction of the five-star hotel and cancellation of the project altogether.
On November 18, 2020 a protest statement signed by the convener of the forum Golam Monwar Kamal expressed these concerns and protests. In addition, Human Rights Forum Bangladesh made 3 recommendations.
The statement said that, recently the R&R Holding Limited, a subsidiary of Sikder Group and Sena Kalyan Sangstha jointly have taken initiative to build a five-star installation named ‘Marriott Hotels & Resorts and amusement park’ in Kapru Para, Dola Para and Shong Nam Hung areas on the Chimbuk-Thanchi road in Bandarban district of Chittagong Hill Tracts. The five-star hotel and amusement park will be built using about 800 to 1,000 acres of land. It has already been started to cut down the hills for the need of this installation. It has a large area of indigenous Mro’s common forest, Jhum hills, villages, forests and orchards, crematoriums, hills, forests and water sources. Similarly, Markinpara, Longbaitangpara, Mensingpara, Riyamanaipara and Menringpara will be evicted.
The statement further said that through the 1997 Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord, land rights and land management are overseen by the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council and the three Hill District Councils. The accord guarantees the land rights of the Hill people. The accord stipulates that the lands grabbed are supposed to be returned through the CHT Land Dispute Settlement Commission. But without taking all these issues into account, this construction can never be justified by directly evicting about 10,000 citizens for business purposes and destroying the very existence of the entire indigenous group. This is a violation of the Constitution of Bangladesh, Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation, Hill District Council Act, Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Settlement Commission Act and above all Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord. This is in conflict with the ILO Convention No. 107 signed during the rule of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
The statement made the following 3 demands and recommendations on behalf of Human Rights Forum Bangladesh:
- Immediately stop the construction work of the five star hotel and cancel the project completely.
- To take effective initiatives to protect the life, livelihood, land, honor, dignity, human rights, history, heritage, customs, culture, etc. of all the indigenous peoples including the Mro people.
- To implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord expeditiously and appropriately along with the execution of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Settlement Commission.