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Human rights abuses against indigenous peoples increased: Kapaeeng Foundation

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Hill Voice, 9 August 2022, Dhaka: Human rights violations against indigenous peoples have increased, according to the overall human rights report of the country’s indigenous peoples from January to July 2022 published by the Kapaeeng Foundation on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

Kapaeeng Foundation’s report stated that the human rights situation of the indigenous peoples of Bangladesh is deteriorating day by day. As, land grabbing has rapidly increased more than before, criminalisation and false cases against the human rights defenders, rights activist and indigenous peoples has boomed recently specially in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), justice is denied, violence against the indigenous women has also marked significantly.

According to the Kapaeeng Foundation systematic documentation, from January-June 2022, there were 10 incidents of violence against indigenous women and girls including killing after rape, gang rape, rape, attempt to rape, attempt to kill and molestation. In these incidents, 5 indigenous women, adolescents and mentally disordered have been victims of violence. Among them, 1 was gang raped, 1 was raped, 1 was killed after rape, 4 were attempted to rape, 2 were attempted to kill and 1 was molested. The most shocking and brutal of these incidents was the killing of an indigenous Jumma woman after gang rape at Rowangchari Upazila of Bandarban District.

There was 2 incident of land grabbing attack on indigenous people while at least 891 acres of land of indigenous people in different places have been targeted to occupy by land grabbers, security forces and Bengali settlers across the country. At least 23 acres of lands are grabbed of 44 indigenous families and 4 persons.  However, there were also 39 incidents of destruction of crops and plantation of indigenous peoples, 2 persons were obstructed from cultivating their lands, 1 person was threatened to kill whereas 71 indigenous families’ lands are also under threat of eviction.

Unbated stone extractions from the various springs of the Matamuhuri Reserve at Alikadam Upazila in Bandarban District were also significant in these 6 months. Although the stone is being extracted from the reserve area freely every year, the administration does not have the information of those stone extractors. The sound of stone breaking machines is not heard in the administration and forest department, as a result of which the main culprits of illegal stone extraction have remained out of reach. Meanwhile, as a result of free lifting of stones for a long time, the springs of the mountains are drying up. Agricultural cultivation is declining due to water crisis. Different ethnic groups of indigenous peoples living in remote hills including Mro, Tripura, Marma, Tanchangya, Chakma are facing water crisis.

On the other hand, 46 indigenous houses were set ablaze by the Bengali settlers in CHT, 16 indigenous persons were arbitrary arrested, 13 houses were searched and vandalized, 14 persons were tortured by security forces, 14 persons were detained illegally, 3 persons were killed, 2 person was attacked, 3 persons were beaten by Bengali settlers, 10 persons including 1 child was dead from diarrhea and 60 persons were affected from diarrhea.

Nevertheless, due to the denial of justice, not arresting the perpetrators, less role of the media and National Human Rights Commission and non-implementation of the CHT Accord resulted the growth of human rights violation against the indigenous peoples in Bangladesh.

Therefore, on the occasion of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples 2022, Kapaeeng Foundation urges the Bangladesh Government, to take effective actions and measures to protect and promote the human rights of indigenous peoples, arrest the culprits, ensure the land and customary rights of indigenous people, recognize the identity of the indigenous peoples as “Indigenous”, release the indigenous rights activist who have been arrested in false cases, form a separate land commission for the plain land indigenous peoples and most importantly to implement the CHT Accord with a specific time-frame.

Kapaeeng Foundation also calls the National Human Rights Commission, Mass-media and civil society to protect and promote the human rights of indigenous peoples, and to take specific plan of action to make coverage of the incidents of the human rights violation of indigenous peoples of Bangladesh.

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