File photo shows indigenous women at the Chitagong Hill Tracts Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune
“Members of the Mro and other Indigenous communities are also afraid that the construction of the hotel will damage sacred sites, forests, water resources and biodiversity in the region,” the letter said
Amnesty International has raised concerns over a possible forced eviction of the Mro indigenous people from their ancestral lands due to the construction of a five-star luxury hotel on the Chimbuk-Thanchi route in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).
In a letter to CHT Affairs Minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing on Sunday, the international rights group also demanded immediate abandonment of the construction of the luxury hotel on the route to protect and develop the lives and livelihood of the Indigenous peoples in line with Bangladesh’s commitment in its Constitution and international human rights law.
In the letter, Amnesty raised concerns that the construction of the luxury hotel on the route between Chimbuk and Thanchi will eventually wipe out villages, forcibly evict a large number of the Mro people and destroy the social, economic, traditional and cultural fabric of the Mro Indigenous community.
“Members of the Mro and other indigenous communities are also afraid that the construction of the hotel will damage sacred sites, forests, water resources and biodiversity in the region,” the letter said.
Amnesty also said the action also contravenes Bangladesh’s commitment to protect the “institutions, persons, property and labour of these populations” under the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention, 1957.
“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 indigenous peoples, rather than providing the indigenous community with the necessary support to realize their own development plans, such as improving access to education and electricity,” it added.
At the same time, community members 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 Indigenous people in violation of the customary laws of the community.
“Furthermore, 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,” Amnesty said in the letter.