BANGLADESH: Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Land disputes hearing stalled

The Daily Star, Wednesday, February 29, 2012

CHT Land Commission

Hearing on land disputes stalled

Our Correspondent, Khagrachhari

A hearing of the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission in its Khagrachhari district town office yesterday was suspended due to a quorum crisis as the representatives of hill people in the commission were absent.

Only two members, commission chairman Justice (retd) Khademul Islam Chowdhury and Additional Divisional Commissioner Nurul Islam were present yesterday when 43 cases were set to be heard.

Representatives of the hill people in the committee, including CHT Regional Council Chairman Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma, Khagrachhari Hill District Council Chairman Kujendra Lal Tripura and Khagrachhari Circle Chief (Mong Raja) Saching Prue Chowdhury were absent at the first day’s hearing. The commission is set to sit again today.

Meanwhile, demanding a halt to the hearing proceedings hundreds of hill people formed a human chain under the banner of Elected Jumma Representatives Council in Mohajanpara area of the town at noon.

With ruling party lawmaker Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury in the chair, the CHT Peace Accord Implementation Committee on December 26, 2010 had suspended all activities of the land commission, including hearing of the land dispute cases until the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act, 2001 is amended.

After the suspension of the hearing yesterday, Khademul expressed his dissatisfaction over the non-cooperation of the indigenous representatives. “It is surprising that most of the members of the commission were absent even though they have been availing all sorts of government facilities.”

He said the commission had prepared a total 43 cases from among 3,000 selected cases for hearing yesterday when all the applicants were present in court.

Calling for cooperation from all hill people for a betterment of the CHT people, the land commission chairman said the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act, 2001 was a complete and independent one and that it was enough to resolve the land disputes in the region.

The government is currently working on the law to bring about necessary amendments with a view to resolving the long-standing disputes.

Meanwhile, the co-chairpersons of the CHT Commission in a press statement yesterday sought Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s intervention in halting the alleged unilateral decisions by the land commission chairman to hold hearing on land disputes.

The CHT Commission statement signed by three co-chairpersons of CHT Commission, including Sultana Kamal, alleged that Khademul had unilaterally declared a resumption of the hearing despite the disagreement of the other members.

The statement added such a declaration by the commission was a violation of the provisions of the 1997 CHT Peace Accord as well as the decision of the CHT Peace Accord Implementation Committee.

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=224321

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The Daily Sun, 29 February 2012

No hearing on CHT land disputes

Ethnic leaders absent from LDRC meeting on first day

→ Our Correspondent

KHAGRACHHARI: The first day’s hearing on land disputes at the Dispute Resolution Commission’s (LDRC) office in Khagrachhari hill town was suspended due to absence of the commission’s ethnic members.

Only two members, including LDRC chairman Justice (retired) Khademul Islam Chowdhury and Additional Divisional Commissioner Nurul Islam were present when CHT Regional Council Chairman Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, Khagrachhari Hill District Council Chairman Kujendra Lal Tripura and Circle Chief (Locally known as Mong Raja) Saching Prue Chowdhury were absent on the first day of the hearing.

Expressing dissatisfaction, LDRC chairman said, “This commission has been trying to settle land disputes in CHT since its inception in 2001.”

“It was our target that we would complete hearing of a total of 43 land dispute cases on Tuesday and on Wednesday but the LDRC initiative went in vein as ethnic members of the commission were absent”, he added.

Replying to another query, the LDRC chairman said, “It is surprising to note that most of the members of the commission were absent despite enjoying all sorts of government facilities.”

He also said they planned to settle all 5,000 cases if the members of the commission, including CHT regional council chairman Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma joined in the judgment process and co-operated with the commission.

He urged journalist to stop publishing false and fabricated reports tarnishing the image of the Land Commission.

Meanwhile, mass ethnic people under the banner of Refugee Welfare Association formed a human chain in front of Chenghi Square in the hill town on Tuesday with a demand to stop such controversial act in the name of hearing.

http://www.daily-sun.com/details_No-hearing-on-CHT-land-disputes_70_1_8_1_11.html

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The Independent, Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Move to settle land dispute cases in CHT
OUR CORRESPONDENT

KHAGRACHHARI, FEB 28: For the first time the Land Commission moves to settle land disputes in the CHT from today (Tuesday)  amid protests from ethnic forums  Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS), United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF) and its front organisation Democratic Youth Forum (DYF). Chairman of Land Dispute Resolution Commission,  Justice (retired) Khademul Islam Chowdhury,  said, the commission will also complete hearing of 45 land dispute cases on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“We would go forward and to settle all 5,000 cases, those submitted in the commission in last one year if all commission’s members, including CHT Regional Council Chairman,  Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma alias Santu Larma,  join in the judgment process and cooperate with the commission, he added”.

Land Commission cannot resolve a single dispute in its last two and half years due to non-cooperation of ethnic members, especially Santu Larma, he alleged.
Criticising  Regional Council Chairman he said, Santu Larma only joined in one meeting out of total 18 meetings organised by the commission in CHT. They held most of the meetings with required quorum but none of the ethnic members agreed to resolve any land dispute without Santu Larma, he added.

Pointing at the progress of Land Commission (LC) he said, 3,000 out of 5,000 land dispute cases are in the final stage for resolving, he said adding that Land Commission can resolve all dispute cases within its tenure if ethnic members come forward with good intension. Terming Land Commission Act, 2001 a complete and Independent act he said, existing acts are enough to resolve the land disputes in CHT. Pointing out that the activities of  land commission as limited he said, Land Commission would only resolve land dispute of India Return Refugees and those rehabilitated  by the government, he added. He urged the ethnic representatives, who are the members of Land Commission to come forward and join the judgment process for the betterment of CHT and its people.
Meanwhile, United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF) and its front organisation Democratic Youth Forum (DYF) strongly condemned the process and urged to ! stop such controversial act in the name of hearing. UPDF President Prasit Bikash Chakma, its Secretary Robi Shankar Chakma, DYF Treasurer Sarbananda Chakma in a separate press releases urged to stop the judgment process.

http://www.theindependentbd.com/national/97269-move-to-settle-land-dispute-cases-in-cht.html

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The Daily Sun, 29 February 2012

Call for end to CHT land disputes

→ Staff Correspondent

Speakers at a national dialogue Tuesday called for immediate solution to longstanding land disputes in Chittagong Hill Tracts to avoid possible flare-up over the issue.

The existing crisis over land disputes will have to be resolved soon otherwise violent clashes may erupt anytime in CHT region, they told the programme at CIRDAP auditorium in the city.

Nagarik Sanghati, Parbatya Campaign Group and Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihood (CSRL) jointly organised the dialogue ‘Plan to Resolve Land Dispute of Indigenous People in CHT’.

Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Prof. Mizanur Rahman addressed as chief guest the programme with President of Citizen Solidarity ASM Atikur Rahman in the chair.

Prof. Mizanur Rahman said there are three kinds of ownership recognised in the country’s constitution excluding the community ownership of indigenous people over land.

“A concept is there that all citizens have equal rights to land anywhere in the country including CHT but a kind of politics misleads it to make people fool,” he added.

“We need to recognise the traditional land rights of people to put an end to the growing land ownership crisis in the CHT region,” the NHRC chairman noted.

He also stressed that distance between the state and the indigenous people should be reduced to establish peach in the CHT region.

Civil society can play role in removing the distance, he said adding, “If the civil society took the initiative, the NHRC will provide all-out support to them in this regard.”

Columnist Syed Abul Moksud in his speech said that the CHT issue is political one, and political goodwill is a must to resolve the land dispute problem in the CHT region.

“CHT people are living in a critical situation and if the existing land dispute problem continues, they (CHT people) will disappear after 15-20 years,” he added.

Prof Mesbah Kamal said, “Existing crisis in the CHT is not regional problem. It is a national problem and the policy makers of the government need to understand it.

Many CHT people, present in the dialogue, criticised the Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission Chairman Justice Khademul Islam Chowdhury and demanded his removal.

Rothi Chakma, Subal Sarkar, Dr Abdul Hai Majumder, Ferdous Alam Ujjal, Javed Ikbal and Anisuzzaman Anis, among others, spoke at the programme.

http://www.daily-sun.com/details_Call-for-end-to-CHT-land-disputes_70_1_9_1_0.html

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The Daily Star, Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Metropolitan

NHRC emphasises equitable solution to CHT land dispute

Unb, Dhaka

The longstanding land dispute in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) should be resolved based on equity, said National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairman Prof Mizanur Rahman yesterday.

“A concept is there that all citizens have the equal rights to own lands in the CHT. One kind of politics is hidden there in this concept to fool people,” he told a dialogue at Cirdap auditorium in the city.

“But since the people of the region are underprivileged, the land dispute issues should be resolved on the basis of equity,” he stressed.

Nagarik Sanghati, Parbattya Campaign Group and Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihood (CSRL) jointly organised the national dialogue tilted ‘Plan to Resolve Land Dispute of Indigenous People in CHT’.

Chaired by Nagarik Sanghati President Prof Dr ASM Atiqur Rahman, the dialogue was also addressed by columnist Syed Abul Maksud, Prof Mizbah Kamal, CSRL Member Secretary Manisha Biswas, indigenous leader UK Jam and General Secretary of Nagarik Sanghati Sharifuzzaman Sharif.

Abul Maksud said the self-identity of the country’s indigenous people is now at stake due to the land dispute in the CHT. “The right to land is as important as that to survival.”

Speaking as the chief guest, the NHRC boss said the community ownership of indigenous people over land is not recognised by the constitution. “Had it been recognised by the constitution, the customary ownership of land would have been protected.”

About the country’s security status, he said it was not possible to protect a country with arms and weapons and deploying military forces. “The security could be ensured by creating a relationship of love among its citizens.”

He urged all to come forward to remove all the prevailing differences of opinions and conflicts to establish people’s rights.

Prof Mizanur assured that if any initiative was taken to resolve the CHT land dispute, the NHRC would provide its all-out support to make it a success.

http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php?nid=224398

For more media news on hearing of land commission:

Shokaler Khabor:

http://www.shokalerkhabor.com/online/details_news.php?id=65305&&%20page_id=%2075

Suprobhat Bangladesh:

http://www.suprobhat.com/details.php?reqDate=2012-03-01%2000:00:00&catId=1&subCatId=1&conId=4752

—-
Kapaeeng Foundation
(A Human Rights Organization for Indigenous Peoples of Bangladesh)
Shalma Garden, House # 23/25, Road # 4, Block # B, PC Culture Housing, Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207, Telephone: +880-2-8190801
E-mail: kapaeeng.foundation@gmail.comkapaeeng.watch@gmail.com, Web: http://www.kapaeeng.org
via AIPP
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