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Friday, September 28, 2012

RANGAMATI VIOLENCE: CHT commission for unbiased probe

New Age, Dhaka, National
Friday, September 28, 2012

CHT commission for unbiased probe

Staff Correspondent
The International Commission on the Chittagong Hill Tracts on Thursday called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to act firmly against those involved in the recent sectarian violence in Rangamati and ensure a fully unbiased investigation and the bringing of the perpetrators to justice, so that no such incident takes place in the future.

The rights watchdog, in a letter to Hasina, condemned yet another round of unprovoked and unacceptable violence against members of the indigenous community by a section of settlers that shook Rangamati town on September 22.

The letter informed Hasina that according to credible media reports around 60 persons, mostly from the indigenous community, have been injured in the attack, many of them severely, including a doctor, 12 union council chairmen, teachers, students and villagers.

The commission called upon the home affairs ministry to jointly conduct with the Chittagong Hill Tracts affairs ministry an independent judicial inquiry into this violence, make its findings public and ensure exemplary punishment of those found guilty.

‘We reiterate our concern that much of the violence in the CHT is related to the land disputes between Bengalis and Paharis, and the CHT Land Commission has not yet been able to settle a single land dispute in the three years of its existence. We call upon the government to take immediate steps to amend the Land Commission Act 2001, appoint a competent and credible chairman to the Land Commission, so that it can start working effectively to fulfil your government’s commitment as a part of the CHT Peace Accord as well as your electoral pledge,’ read the letter signed by the commission’s co-chairs, Eric Avebury, Sultana Kamal and Elsa Stamatopoulou.

‘We also demand that as a means of building mutual trust the military should be barred from handling civil law and order situations and, in line with the 1997 CHT Accord, immediately take steps to dismantle all the temporary military camps in the CHT. Instead, the police should be immediately trained and equipped to handle such violence and to maintain peace and order in the CHT,’ the letter added.

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