• Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018
  • Last Update : 01:10 pm

Report: 209 indigenous people victimized in six months

  • Published at 01:15 am July 2nd, 2018
Indigenous Santal families in Gaibandha’s Gobindaganj sheltered in a local church after they were forcefully evicted from their homes and all their belongings burned in November 2016mehedi hasan
Indigenous Santal families in Gaibandha’s Gobindaganj sheltered in a local church after they were forcefully evicted from their homes and all their belongings burned in November 2016Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Of these, 23 were women who were murdered, raped, or sexually harassed

At least 209 indigenous persons and 125 families, in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and the plains, have fallen victim to different forms of violence and persecution in the first six months of 2018, a new report has revealed.

The bi-annual human rights report, prepared by Kapaeeng Foundation, said they were victimized in a total of 70 incidents of human rights violations.

A series of: killings; gang rapes; rapes; torture; sexual harassment; arbitrary arrest and detention; destruction of property; and arbitrary house searches, were witnessed in this period, says a Kaapeeng’s press release.

Individual victims include 12 children and 23 women. 

“Attacks, arbitrary arrests, detention, and searches of indigenous people's homes have increased over these six months,” the release said.

The organization pointed out that the filing of fabricated cases against indigenous rights activists,followed by arbitrary arrest, jail, detention, and physical torture  – in the camps and during house searches – continued.

According to the report, 96 persons were charged in four fabricated cases and, of them, 32 persons were arrested. In the CHT, illegal searches of 74 houses were carried out in the middle of the night— without  warrant..

The report highlighted the situation of indigenous women and girls, concluding that they were the worst victims of violence.

A total of 23 indigenous women and girls have been: murdered, raped, gang raped, subjected to attempted rape, and sexually harassmed. Two women were killed after being raped, four murdered, two gang-raped, seven raped, five survivors of attempted rape, and three sexually harassed and assaulted in: Bandarban, Chittagong, Khagrachhari, Mymensingh, Rangamati and Dhaka, the report said.

As examples, it cited the brutal killing following the rape of two indigenous Tripura girls in Sitakunda upazila of Chittagong in May—and the gang rape of two teenage Tripura girls, in two separate incidents in Bandarban and Khagrachhari, in April and June.

Two Marma sisters were reportedly sexually assaulted in Bilaichari upazila, in Rangamati in January this year; and their parents are still confined with police security at Vedvedi area in Rangamati municipality, since January, said Kapaeeng.

The report also said land-grabbing, eviction, and ethnic conflicts take place frequently in CHT and the plain lands because land disputes are not resolved— threatening the lives and livelihoods of indigenous communities.

No rehabilitation measures have been taken for the indigenous families who have become homeless in last year’s arson attack in Langadu, despite the government’s assurances.

Kapaeeng criticized the massive searches of houses, by joint forces, after the killing of politicians Shaktimaan Chakma, Tapan Jyoti Chakma and three others in May—in Naniarchar of Rangamati.

“Since then, at least 14 indigenous persons, in three hill districts of CHT, have been arrested; and 24 others detained for short periods. Many houses have been searched. This has created panic and insecurity among indigenous youth and activists,” it said.

“This drive by the joint forces continues as part of the criminalization of indigenous activists. The criminalization of indigenous peoples’s activities and organizations engaged in the movement for land rights and the implementation of the CHT Accord –labeling them as terrorists, armed criminals, extortionists, or separatists – has intensified alarmingly,” the report added