Eviction of indigenous people | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 20, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 20, 2009

Editorial

Eviction of indigenous people

There must be zero tolerance for this kind of action

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The news out of Khatirpur at Porsha in Naogaon, where over 50 indigenous families have been attacked and forcibly evicted from their land, shocks us all. We unequivocally condemn this barbarous act, and strongly urge the government to take remedial action.
The victimisation of Bangladesh's indigenous populations is, unfortunately, not a new phenomenon. We feel that the government has a special responsibility to protect the country's minority communities and to ensure that none of their rights are violated.
It is because of their being in a minority, being out of the mainstream of society that land-grabbers and other criminal elements feel emboldened to cheat them or deny them of their rights.
Powerful members of the majority community calculate that no one will lift a finger to help such marginalised people, and that they can thus be targeted with impunity. The government must ensure that this assumption is proved wrong.
Indeed, this government has a reputation for being protective of minority rights, and, as such, we very much hope that it will move swiftly to correct this injustice and to ensure that the affected families are able to swiftly get back their land and live there without fear of reprisal.
The facts of the case could not be simpler. Firstly the land-grabber has made false documents asserting ownership over the land in question. The fact that the documents are false is evidenced by the fact that, in any event, deputy commissioner's approval is required for any purchase of ancestral land from an indigenous person, and no such approval was ever given, or apparently even sought.
But far worse than merely fraudulently claim title to land that was not his, the land-grabber in this instance organised vicious attacks on the community, so that they had no choice but to flee for their own safety.
There can be no doubt as to the scale of the perpetrator's villainy, and exemplary punishment is necessary to warn others that this kind of action targeting the vulnerable indigenous communities will not be tolerated.
The authorities have so far failed to protect the evicted peoples. They are at present homeless and their rights have been grievously violated. The government must take all steps necessary to ensure that those who have been evicted can return to their land in safety and that those responsible for their predicament are punished to the fullest extent of the law.

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