Amnesty International urges govt to protect Mro people from eviction

Staff Correspondent   | Updated at 11:50pm on November 22, 2020

Rights Group Amnesty International on Sunday expressed concern about the construction of a five-star hotel in Chattogram Hill Tracts and urged the government to protect the Mro ethnic minority people from forced-eviction from their ancestral lands.

The London-based rights watchdog made the call in a letter sent to the CHT affairs minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing, saying that the construction of five-star hotel might wipe out villages, and destroy the social, economic, traditional and cultural fabric of the community.

The letter, written by AI head of South Asia Omar Waraich, which was posted on the rights organisation’s website, urged the government to abandon the construction of the luxury hotel on the Chimbuk-Thanchi route immediately.

It also urged to protect and develop the lives and livelihood of the ethnic minority people in line with Bangladesh’s commitment in its Constitution and international human rights law.

‘The construction of the luxury hotel on the route between Chimbuk and Thanchi will eventually wipe out villages,’ the letter read.

Members of the Mro and other communities are also afraid that the construction of the hotel will damage sacred sites, forests, water resources and biodiversity in the region, it said.

‘The construction of a five-star hotel under these circumstances would violate the Bangladeshi authorities’ responsibility and commitment to protect and promote the rights of the ethnic minority people, rather than providing the community with the necessary support to realize their own development plans, for example by improving access to education and electricity,’ the letter read.

Quoting the community members, Amnesty said that the hotel and associated projects may ultimately lead to the direct and indirect taking away of at least 800 acres of land of the minority people in violation of the customary laws of the community,’ it said.

The action also contravenes Bangladesh’s commitment to protecting the ‘institutions, persons, property and labour of these populations’ under the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957, it said.

Furthermore, the letter said, ‘the hotel’s construction, on the land belonging to Indigenous peoples, would violate Bangladesh’s constitutional obligation to ‘protect and develop the unique local culture and tradition of the tribes, minor races, ethnic sects and communities.’