Indigenous leaders and civil society members yesterday demanded full compensation for all the victims of last year's arson attack on the minority community of Longadu upazila in Rangamati.
Speaking at a discussion, they put forward eight recommendations including extension of the government's ration facilities to the affected families from one year to three years, rebuilding of their houses as soon as possible, and exemplary punishment for the attackers.
Currently, each victim family receives 30kg of rice per month as ration, but the government has not yet started rebuilding their homes as promised, they said.
Marking one year of the arson attack, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum (BAF), Institute for Environment and Development (IED), and Kapaeeng Foundation, and Janoudyog organised the discussion at Biswho Shahitto Kendro in the capital.
Bangalee settlers launched a series of arson attacks on the Chakma community in Longadu over the death of a local Jubo League leader on June 2 last year, according to indigenous leaders. The attack destroyed houses of more than 200 families, displacing around 1,500 people.
Reading out a statement, Executive Director of Kapaeeng Foundation Pallab Chakma said even after one year, no house has been built for the victims. Also, they do not know when the construction may start.
“Many of the affected people are now living in rented houses, some in their relatives' homes, and some have built makeshift shanties,” he said, adding that during winter and the stormy weather of monsoon, their sufferings soar, they said.
General Secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Foundation Sanjeeb Drong said the attitude of a state towards its minorities is very important.
“A society or nation is judged on how they keep their minorities,” he said.
About the rights of the indigenous people, he said human rights violation takes place everywhere.
“But whether the crimes are prosecuted or not is important,” he said.
The minority leader claimed that ethnic people are losing interest in living in the country as their human rights are being neglected by the state.
Eminent columnist and researcher Syed Abul Maksud said if justice is not served, incidents like Longadu will happen over and over.
He also came down hard on the government for not ensuring justice and compensation for the victim families.
President of Oikya Nap Pankaj Bhattacharya and Executive Director of IED Numan Ahmed Khan were also present at the programme.