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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina: Return the Santals' land & safeguard their customary land tenure

Why this is important

Santal culture is part of the complex tapestry and heritage of Bengal and must not be destroyed through insensitive repurposing of their land. Between November 6th and 7th of 2016, members of your ruling party, the Awami League, used their access to heavily armed police, their political status, and their influence on the larger Bengali community, to attack, loot, and burn down the homes of an indigenous community of 2,500 Santal in Gaibanda, Bangladesh. While three Santal men have been killed, about 1,200 are on the run. The remaining women and children are stranded under the open sky, without shelter, food, and clothing in Gaibandha where temperatures can fall to 10 degrees Celsius (or 50 degrees Fahrenheit) if not lower in these winter days. We expect the Awami League to protect the human rights of not just the majority but also the minority ‐ the biological and cultural diversity that enriches the pluralism of Bangladesh. We expect you, Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, to stand by the platform of pluralism, under which you won your last election and respond urgently to the needs of the Santal community by: 1. Returning the total sum of their ancestral land, 2. Safeguarding their communal land tenure, 3. Providing compensation for damages to help them rebuild their homes. Furthermore, while it is appreciated that you are promising to build new homes over 10 acres for the displaced Santal in Gobindaganj’s Katabari area, it must be explained why you will not set a precedent to protect the ancestral land of indigenous people over the thuggery of ruling politicians in co‐operation with corporate greed?

With respect and good wishes,
The World in Support of the Santal,
The World in Support of Biological and Cultural Diversity  

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