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Roundtable Discussion on ‘Evicting Indigenous People from their Land and Guarantee of Land Governance’

We are sharing this update submitted by the Association For Land Reform And Development (ALRD).

Eviction of Indigenous People (IP) from their ancestral lands and set out their house on fire increased in recent times. Such clashes have often erupted between IPs and Bengali settlers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and sometime happened with plain lands IPs. Grabbing of IPs land is alleged to be main cause of conflict in such areas. Latest, such clash over land happened in Habibpur village under Parbatipur upazila in Dinajpur district on 24 January. There was a longstanding dispute between Bengali’s and indigenous Santal communities over possessing land properties. Such clashes resulted bloody and troublesome incidences.

Mr. Shamul Huda third from the left demanded strong actions against the land grabbers who compelled IPs evicted from lands

Mr. Shamul Huda third from the left demanded strong actions against the land grabbers who compelled IPs evicted from lands. Photo by ALRD.

With a view to place the issue on discussion table, ALRD and Bangladesh Adivasi Forum jointly organized a roundtable discussion on “Evicting Indigenous People from their Land and Guarantee of Land Governance” at the Lounge of Dhaka Reporter’s Unity held on 16 February. One hundred and forty-five participants from CSOs, NGOs, community-based organizations (CBOs), and electronics and prints media participated in the roundtable discussion.

ALRD Executive Director, Shamsul Huda, chaired the program. A paper was presented by Associate Professor of Dhaka University, Robayet Ferdous, depicting the recent land grabbing incidents and different communal attacks on the indigenous people.

Participants of the roundtable discussion.

Participants of the roundtable discussion. Photo by ALRD.

Speakers stated that the indigenous communities are a major victim of the land grabbers who take hold of their lands defying prescribed government rules. Referring to the earlier records, they alleged that the indigenous communities were being wiped out from their lands following forced evacuation by the land grabbers with the backing of the local administration. Participants and speakers at the discussion demanded the fulfillment of the peace accord to ensure transparency and accountability and avoid the culture of impunity both in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and plains.

ANGOC/LWA: Ongoing Initiatives

LWA seeks to contribute to the empowerment of Asian rural communities through increased access to land – through a platform promoting consensus-building and advocacy among an active constituency sharing the same understanding on land issues. ANGOC is coordinating these country studies and initiatives in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

Case studies on land grabbing

As private sector land investments increase in Asia, the question of who benefits from the purchase or lease of large tracts of land – also called land grabbing – becomes critical. Investments not only pose threats to prime agricultural lands, converting them into plantations and socio-economic development zones, but they undermine communities’ land rights. LWA partners are documenting specific land grabbing cases.

Scoping studies on women

The importance of women’s access to and control over land and other natural resources is essential in ensuring food security and reducing poverty. As yet, many gaps and issues remain in upholding women’s rights to land. The scoping studies are being conducted to assess the laws and policies, as well as actors, which influence women’s land rights, and define strategic areas to enhance advocacy to enhance women’s access to and ownership of land.

Scoping studies on indigenous peoples

Indigenous peoples are recognized for their role in food security, through resource conservation and the continued use of traditional knowledge systems. However, they face many challenges, especially with regard to land and resource rights. Many are at risk of dispossession of their ancestral lands. The scoping studies (per country) will assess the legal and policy environment affecting IP land rights and efforts of various actors in addressing IP land and resource issues; and develop recommendations for policy advocacy for IPs’ land rights.

CSO land reform monitoring

The LWA campaign has developed a framework for monitoring land reforms in various Asian countries, using indicators on land tenure and access to land, as well as policies and budgets. This framework was piloted in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India (select states), Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, and the Philippines. The second phase of land reform monitoring – continuing monitoring activities – is now underway in those seven countries. Read more about the  CSO land reform monitoring initiative.

These initiatives are being spearheaded by the following organizations:

For any questions, please contact Catherine Liamzon (ccliamzon@angoc.org).