Hill Voice, 5 January 2023, Dhaka: 42 eminent citizens of the country have expressed concern and anger over the attack, arson and looting on indigenous people in a village of Lama in Bandarban. In the statement, the eminent persons demanded that the people of the rubber company and their patrons responsible for the attack on the indigenous people and setting fire to their houses should be punished and held accountable according to the law.
In the statement issued yesterday Wednesday (January 4), prominent citizens said, according to various news media, last January 1, 2023, at mid-night, about 200/250 people of Lama Rubber Company loaded 6 trucks and attacked Rengyen Karbari Para. They attacked and set fire to about 7 houses in the village. They also attacked the house of Karbari Rengyen, who fled in fear to the nearby bushes to protect themselves. However, the attackers ransacked his house and looted money, goats, chickens, rice, solar power, mobile phones, sacks of rice, blankets, etc.
The statement said that in the evening before the attack, SI Shamim of Lama police station came and ordered the residents of the village that no house can be erected in this area. All will be demolished. Although the ban issued by the administration in this area is in force. After this statement of the police, the people of the rubber company attacked at night. So, the indigenous peoples are afraid to go to the police even in such a state of helplessness.
For almost a year, the atrocities being carried out on these indigenous people of Lama with the direct help of the police administration with the connivance of the Lama Rubber Company is inhumane and barbaric. The eminent citizens strongly condemned the attacks and looting of rubber company people and the activities of the local police against the indigenous peoples and human rights.
The dignitaries in their statement called for providing full security to affected and affected families, immediately identifying the attackers and their accomplices, the police and others, and punishing them exemplarily, bringing responsible individuals and groups to justice through impartial, transparent and independent investigations, identifying and ensuring punishment and accountability of rubber company officials and law enforcement officials who are directly or indirectly involved in the attacks on marginalized Mro people through investigations, ensuring adequate compensation and economic rehabilitation for the affected families and immediate cancelling illegal lease of rubber company.
The statement also said that on April 27, 2022, the Jum farms created by the indigenous peoples of Rengyen Para, Joychandra Karbari Para and Rengyen Karbari Para of Lama Upazila of Bandarban were burnt. About one hundred acres of Jum paddy, bamboo, mango, banana, pineapple and various fruits and forest trees were burnt in this fire. The indigenous peoples of the affected villages alleged that the people of a company named Lama Rubber Industries Ltd. deliberately set fire to their crops to grab the land.
A 5-member committee headed by the Deputy Director of the local government was formed by the Bandarban Hill District Council to find out the real facts in this regard. The committee gave 6-point recommendations including canceling the lease but it was not implemented. Rather, on September 6, 2022, the only source of water for the indigenous peoples was poisoned in the hill stream. Although reports on this have been published in various media, so far the administration has not taken any punitive action against the criminals. On September 01, 2022, company men looted more than 25 maunds of sweet pumpkins from the fields cultivated by four Mro people including Langkom Mro, and on September 24, 2022, they destroyed 300 banana trees planted in the plantation of Reng Yung Mro.
The statement was signed by Sultana Kamal, Human Rights Activist and Chairperson, Human Rights Culture Foundation, Wahiduddin Mahmud, Economist and former Advisor to Caretaker Government, Khushi Kabir, Coordinator, Navira Kari and Chairperson, ALRD, Adv. Z I Khan Panna, Human Rights Activist and Lawyer, Bangladesh. Supreme Court, Dr. Abul Barkat, President, Bangladesh Economic Association and Advisor, HDRC, Robayet Ferdous, Professor, Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, University of Dhaka, Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, Trustee, Gonoshasthya Kendra, Dr. Hamida Hossain, Human Rights Activist, Dr. Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director, TIB, Dr. Swapan Adnan, Former Lecturer, Department of Economics, Dhaka University and Professional Research Associate, SOAS, University of London and Member, Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission, Shireen Haque, Member, Women’s Affairs, Salim Samad, Journalist and General Editor, Forum for Freedom Of Expression, Dr Asif Nazrul, Professor, University of Dhaka, Dr. Meghna Guhathakurta, Executive Director, Research Initiative Bangladesh (RIB), Ed Rana Dasgupta, General Sam. Editor, Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, Subrata Chowdhury, Senior Advocate, Bangladesh Supreme Court, Parveen Hasan, Vice Chancellor, Central Women’s University, Kajal Debnath, Presidium Member, Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, Advocate Tabarak Hossain, Vice President, Collective Social Movement and Lawyer, Bangladesh Supreme Court, Rehnuma Ahmed, Poet and Writer, Shamsul Huda, Executive Director, Association for Land Reform and Development (ALRD), Barrister Sara Hossain, Honorary Executive Director, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) , Sanjeev Drang, General Secretary, Bangladesh Tribal Forum, Dr. Shahidul Alam, Photographer and Social Activist, Zakir Hossain, Executive Director, Citizen Initiatives, Shaheen Anam, Executive Director, Foundation for Humanity, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Chief Executive, Bela, Veena D’Costa, Professor, Australian National University, Dr Sumaiya Khair, Professor, Department of Law, University of Dhaka, Tasnim Siraj Mahbub, Associate Professor, Department of English, University of Dhaka, Dr. Akmal Hussain, Former Professor, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka, Sadab Noor, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Anthropology, University of Durham, Dr Mohammad Tanjim Uddin Khan, Professor, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka, Zobaida Nasreen Kona, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Dhaka, Mo Noor Khan Liton, Human Rights Activist, Naser Bakhtiar, Hana Shams Ahmed Human Rights and Indigenous Rights Activist, Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Executive Director, Coast Trust, Dipayan Khisa, Information and Publicity Secretary, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, Muktashree Chakma , Core Member, Sangat, Rosina Begum, Researcher and Rights Activist, Lelong Khumi, Indigenous Rights Activist.