Sixty-two eminent citizens yesterday issued a statement against the construction of the Marriott hotel and resort at Bandarban's Chandrapahar, popularly known as Chimbuk.
Sikder Group's subsidiary R&R Holdings Ltd and the security forces have taken the initiative to build a five-star hotel and amusement park at Kaprupara, Dolapara and Shong Nam Hung of 302 Lulaing Mouza and 355 Sepru Mouza, said the statement.
The statement pointed out that the organisation was building the resort without the free, prior and informed consent of people of the Mro community.
This is in violation of the cultural norms acknowledged by this country's constitution and the CHT Regulation 1900, Bandarban Hill District Council Act 1989 and CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001, said the statement.
"There is no scope to construct such private, profit-making ventures under these laws," it added.
Such a corporate venture is a threat to the existence of the local culture, heritage and ecosystem, said the citizens, adding that they want the project cancelled.
"The Mro protesters are being threatened," the statement said.
"Instead of listening to the legitimate demands of the Mro community, R&R Holding Ltd has begun razing the hills, obstructing the people from reaching their burial places, water sources as well as their sacred stones and trees.
"The hotel and the traffic it will pose a security concern for the women of the community, and their lifestyle," it said.
"On top of that, taking up space for a resort will further decrease the already shrinking space for jhum farming.
"Representatives of R&R Holding Ltd gave several interviews to the media stating that they are doing the project with the permission of the district commission. This would make this project illegal, because the commission cannot hand over ownership of the land to any party without the explicit permission of the community and the mouza headman.
"We demand that all economic activities, including tourism that is not sanctioned by the community, be stopped immediately. We also demand that the land grabbers be evicted."
The statement was signed by, among others, Professor Emeritus of University of Dhaka (DU) Dr Serajul Islam Choudhury, eminent human rights activist Sultana Kamal, Dr Hameeda Hossain, Coordinator of Nijera Kori Khushi Kabir, executive chair of Power and Participation Research Centre Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman, trustee of Gonoshasthaya Kendra Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury, former governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr Salahuddin Ahmed. Distinguished Fellows at Centre for Policy Dialogue Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya and Dr Mustafizur Rahman, Chief Executive of Transparency International Bangladesh Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director of Manusher Jonno Foundation Shaheen Anam, Professor of economics at Jahangirnagar University Dr Anu Muhammad and Dr MM Akash at DU, Professor Meghna Guhathakurata, Professor Amena Mahsin, Chakma Raja Barrister Devasish Roy, Chief Executive of Gonoshakkhorota Ovijan Rashida K Chowdhury, Secretary of Shujan Dr Badiul Alam Majumdar, Naripokkho member Shireen Huq, eminent Jurist Dr Shahdeen Malik, writer Rahnuma Ahmed, photojournalist Shahidul Alam, Executive Director of Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit Dr CR Abrar, Chief Executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Executive Director of Coast Trust Rezaul Karim Chowdhury, Barrister Sara Hossain, Executive Director of Bangladesh Indigenous Forum Sanjeeb Drong, President of the Bandarban chapter of Chittagong Hill Tracts Forest and Land Rights Protection Committee Juamlian Amlai, and President of CHT Citizens' Committee Gautam Dewan.