Villagers of the Mro community face eviction threats from eight of their ancestral villages at Chimbuk hill in Bandarban district in the Chittagong Hill District, Bangladesh due to the construction of a five-star hotel in their ancestral lands.
Press Statement: International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission
June 26, 2020, Dhaka
The International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission is alarmed at the reports of allegations of human rights violations, especially against the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past few months, as the pandemic spread into the three hill districts, widespread human rights violations have been reported by the security forces and the police, as well as vigilante groups, which includes cases of harassment, intimidation, arbitrary house searches, attack on religious places of worship, abduction and threats against indigenous leaders, activists and prisoners. While the pandemic has affected the indigenous people in various ways in terms of food shortage and access to medical services, the harassment and intimidation by the security forces and the activities of these vigilante groups have continued to aggravate the situation.
The situation for Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh in many ways echoes the situation of other Indigenous Peoples in Asia: they face heavy militarization; they are stigmatized as anti-national for wanting to be included in decisions affecting their lives – such as industrial development taking place on their ancestral lands, lands which they depend on for their livelihood; and their lands are grabbed at the speed of light, and with their land goes a huge part of their identity. Indigenous women are targeted, and rape is used systematically as a weapon to suppress them. The misery seems to be unending. Yet they are still here; alive, struggling, fighting, uniting.