Protect the ancestral land of the Khasi people
Thirteen prominent environmentalists, rights activists and citizens addressed a letter to the Sylhet Divisional Commissioner, demanding the protection of the ancestral and customary lands of the Khasi people living in Daluchhara and Belkuma Khasiapunji, located in the upazila Kulaura of Moulvibazar.
They released the letter on Saturday after learning that the so-called “beneficiaries” of the Kulaura Upazila administration, the police, the forestry and social forestry department of Moulvibazar will “forcibly” implement the plantation. trees in the land of Daluchhara Khasia Punji today.
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The signatories said the forestry department implementing a flawed project like this in the name of social forestry raises serious questions, and asked the administration not to undertake such a project that destroys natural forests.
The Khasis have lived on their ancestral lands for ages. Various international charters, including the United Nations, have recognized the indigenous culture of preserving ancestral lands, and the Bangabandhu regime also ratified ILO Convention 107 in 1972, recognizing the ancestral land rights of indigenous peoples, the letter said. .
The letter also pointed out that the forestry department unilaterally listed beneficiaries without any discussion with the Khasis and also ignored social forestry policy, creating several problems and complications between beneficiaries and Khasis.
Some criminals have already destroyed the Khasis-owned vegetable patch / betel nut garden and attacked them, the signatories said in the letter. The media shed light on this issue very recently, prompting a meeting between the Khasi leadership and the Minister of Forests and Environment to resolve the issues.
In addition, the Moulvibazar court also imposed a ban on this land, according to the published letter.
The letter was signed by Sultana Kamal, president of Bapa; Khushi Kabir, coordinator, Nijera Kori; Prof Dr Mizanur Rahman, Former Chairman, National Human Rights Commission; lawyer Rana Dash Gupta, secretary general, Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council; Prof Dr Mesbah Kamal, Vice-Chancellor, Prime Asia University; Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Executive Director, Bela; Shamsul Huda, ALRD Executive Director; Sharmin Murshid, former member, National River Conservation Commission; Sharif Jamil, Secretary General, Bapa; Nirmal Rozario, president of the Bangladesh Christian Association; Sanjeeb Drong, Secretary General, Bangladesh Adivasi Forum; Father Joseph Gomes, regional coordinator, Adivasi Poribesh Rokkha Andolon; Abdul Karim, Secretary General, Bapa Sylhet.