Land rights as human rights – a view from Bangladesh

Friday, 5th January 2018

In Bangladesh, around 80% of civil and criminal cases are related to land conflict. Eviction and torture against the marginal and indigenous peoples can be found throughout the country. Published in local newspapers, 11 cases of tortures are recorded during 2012 to 2017. 

The number also generated through an investigation conducted by ILC Asia member in Bangladesh, ALRD together with the country’s National Human Rights Commission.  This is part of the activities under the NES Bangladesh, and as way to strengthen the joint effort between the two in protecting the land rights of the marginalized deprived communities.

ALRD, with support of ILC and DANIDA carried out seven investigations of this on religious minorities and indigenous people from 2014 to 2017.

Marking the World Human Rights 2017, a dialogue on “World Human Rights vs. Land Rights and Security of Religious Minorities and IPs in Bangladesh” took place to discuss further on the issues of brutal attack against IPs and religious minorities intended for grabbing lands by evicting them from their ancestral homestead.

The country’s Vested Property Act is seen as the root of land confiscation cases. The act leads to five million Hindu households in Bangladesh (40% of which) have lost their 2.6 million acres of land since the independence era. However, this does not related to discrimination toward certain religion or case, but it was mentioned during the dialogue that land grabbers are targeting to the politically weak communities. It is known that ethnic and religious minorities are the most persecuted and oppressed people in Bangladesh. Despite of the fact that the constitution guarantees equal rights to all citizens regardless of their religion and ethnicity, Bangladeshi minorities have been consistently being denied on their rights and they are always be the ones who got evicted from their own land.

Thereby, the government should address appropriate solution to resolve the land disputes by recognising the traditional land rights of indigenous people.

Protecting and ensuring the rights of the indigenous peoples, and implementing the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act properly along with the government’s declaration for the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord implementation are the powerful messages delivered during this dialogue, as effective recommendations solving the issue.

The dialogue which was organized on December, 28th 2017 in Dhaka, Bangladesh was being attended by the total of 159 participants, including 24 females. Speaking on this dialogue, advocate Sultana Kamal, NHRC Chairman Kazi Reazul Kabir, Fazle Hossain Badsha MP, Convener of the Parliamentary Caucus on Indigenous Affairs and Ushatan Talukder MP, from Rangamati constituency. ALRD Chairperson Khushi  Kabir, Economist Professor Dr. Abul Barkat, Economist and Researcher Prof Swapan Adnan, and ALRD Director Shamsul Huda were also present to sit on the panel session.

This event was a joint initiative from all Bangladesh ILC Asia members, ALRD (Association for Land Reform and Development, ARBAN (Association for Realisation of Basic Needs), CDA (Community Development Association), and Kapaeeng Foundation

*The news was originally written by ALRD and it is edited for ILC website purpose

*cover photo by ALRD