Attacks against Indigenous Peoples in Bangladesh by government forces must stop!

Bangladeshi police stand and do nothing while private goons torch the homes of indigenous Santal and Bengali faarmers. (photo from Dhaka Tribune)
Bangladeshi police stand and do nothing while private goons torch the homes of indigenous Santal and Bengali faarmers. (photo from Dhaka Tribune)

The International Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) condemns in the strongest possible terms the ongoing attacks against the indigenous Santal people and Bengali farmers in Bangladesh by government security forces and private gunmen. To date, these continuing attacks have resulted in 3 deaths and 30 injured. 1,200 families have been forcibly displaced as a result of these actions.

On the morning of November 6, 2016, Bangladeshi police and local gunmen hired by the Rangpur Sugar Mills Authority attacked thousands of indigenous Santal and Bengali peoples in the Shahebgan Bagda farm of Rangpur Sugar Mills in Gaibanda district in Bangladesh. This bloody attack was an effort by the Bangladeshi government and greedy corporations to forcibly evict the Santals from their ancestral lands. 2 died and 30 were injured while another 3 were illegally arrested.

Later that evening government forces and private goons set fire to the houses of the Santals and Bengalis and shot to death another Santal, forcing 1,200 families to flee from their ancestral lands. Unconfirmed reports say another four (4) people were killed by the police and their bodies are being held in the Bagda farm. Following these incidents the Bangladeshi police then slapped more than 400 Santals and Bengalis with trumped-up charges.

Since 2014 the indigenous Santals and Bengali farmers have been demanding the return of over 700 hectares of their ancestral lands from the government and the Rangpur Sugar Mills Authority. The Santals and Bengalis accused the government and the company of violating the previous agreement they had made, wherein the Indigenous Peoples will allow only sugarcane to be planted on their ancestral lands. On July 2016 the indigenous Santals and Bengali farmers occupied over 40 hectares of land and built makeshift homes and a school. This makeshift community was also attacked by government security forces that same month by government forces in an effort to evict the Santals and the Bengali.

These continuing attacks and the refusal of the government and the Rangpur Sugar Mills to honor past agreements with the Santal peoples is a gross violation of the rights of Indigenous Peoples to determine the development of their ancestral lands. IPMSDL strongly demands that the government cease and desist further attacks on the Santal people and Bengali farmers and honor previous agreements made with Indigenous Peoples, and their ancestral lands be immediately returned. Furthermore, we demand that all trumped up charges against the Santal people and Bengali farmers be dropped immediately, and that the government immediately arrest State security forces and hired gunmen responsible for the bloody attacks.

The IPMSDL stands united with the Santal people of Bangladesh in the fight to reclaim and defend their ancestral territories, and we are one with the Santal people in condemning these vicious attacks by the Bangladeshi government on the right of the Santals to self determination.

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