Chittagong, Bangladesh, February 21, 2011 A village was burned down and dozens of indigenous have been injured and driven from Ragipara in the mountain district of Rangamati, Diocese of Chittagong. The indigenous people who have suffered violence, perpetrated by Muslim settlers, are Buddhist, Hindu and Christian ethnic minorities. This is the news sent to Fides from the Commission for Justice and Peace of the local Church. On 17 February more than 300 Muslim settlers, who intend to take possession of new lands for agriculture, organised a punitive expedition against the village inhabited by indigenous people. The settlers were backed by local police who legitimised the violence. Other cases like this (of attacks on tribal members and private land) have been recorded in recent days in the area of Gulishakhali. The Muslims settlers committed this under the pretext of the death of their comrade, Ali Saber, found dead in the Ragiparam, and staged a violent reaction, trampling on the rights of minorities.
“They set fire to our homes and our small shops,” an eyewitness told Fides. For some time Muslim settlers have been seeking to force out the local non-Muslim ethnic groups, to acquire new agricultural land. In many cases they have succeeded, because nobody, not even the civil authorities, respects and guarantees the rights of ethnic and religious minorities.
Lawyer, King Devasish Roy, also a tribal member, wrote an open letter to the civil authorities and to the National Commission for Human Rights for Bangladesh, reporting the incident and noting “the complicity of the police.” The letter called for an investigation into the incident in Ragipara including the identification and punishment of the guilty, urging the Government to protect and safeguard the rights of citizens, members of ethnic or religious minorities.