Terming the move an act of 'aggression,' they express solidarity with recent protests voiced by the ethnic Mro community in Bandarban
Eminent citizens of Bangladesh have expressed their concerns over the construction of a five-star hotel and tourist spot in Chimbuk Hill area by R&R Holdings Limited, a concern of Sikder Group.
Terming the move as an act of "aggression," they expressed solidarity with the recent protests voiced by the ethnic Mro community in Bandarban opposing the construction.
A press statement signed by 62 eminent citizens of the country, including Prof Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury of Dhaka University, rights activist Sultana Kamal, Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury and Prof Firdous Azim of Brac University, was issued in this regard on Monday.
They said that the decision to construct such a hotel and tourist spot on land habited by thousands of Mro people violated the existing laws of the country.
According to the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord 1997, no one can build commercial establishments on land inhabited by ethnic groups which may jeopardize their interest, said the statement.
They urged the authorities concerned to investigate the allegations of the Mro community about getting threatened and intimidated for protesting in order to protect their land.
They demanded suspension of all such commercial initiatives in the CHT region and immediate removal of the land grabbers.
The eminent citizens, in the statement, also called for the formation of a land commission to safeguard the ethnic groups living in the CHT.
According to sources, the Sikder Group has been trying to grab about 1,000 acres of jhum land from Kapru Para Bazar to Jiban Nagar area in the name of constructing a hotel and creating a tourist spot.
The group has already installed many signboards claiming the land.
The Mro people have alleged that if the project is implemented, it will directly affect six villages of the Mro community and indirectly affect another 70 to 116 villages of the community.
The project would displace around 11,000 jhum cultivators from their ancestral land, they added.
Earlier on November 2, the International CHT Commission expressed concern over the possible displacement of Mro people from several villages because of the proposed five-star hotel project in Bandarban.
It called for the immediate cancellation of the project and selection of more community-secure sites based on “Free Prior and Informed Consent” protocol for any tourism projects in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
The commission said that the construction of a five-star hotel on the Chimbuk-Thanchi road of Bandarban district of the Chittagong Hill Tracts would directly displace poor Mro villagers from three villages around the project site and threaten to displace villagers from five other villages.
The CHT Commission recommended that the hotel project should be immediately abandoned and a more appropriate location acceptable to the local community be identified for the tourist project in consultation with local stakeholders as well as the CHT Regional Council and the Bandarban Hill District Council.