On 16 March 2015 Bangladesh Krishok Federation and Bangladesh Kishani Sabha, Barisal District Unit organized the 2nd District Conference in Barisal Aushwini Kumar Town Hall. Bangladesh Krishok Federation Central President Badrul Alam was present as chief guest while the leaders from different districts of both organization joined the conference as guests. Around 600 delegates, both male and female attended the conference hailing from different sub-districts of Barisal. Barisal District Unit President of Bangladesh Krishok Federation Harun Bhandari submitted the report of activities for the last more than 5 years while Mitu Begum of Bangladesh Kishani Sabha, Barisal district presided over the conference. In the report it is mentioned that the organizations have been well-rooted in the different areas of the district. The report stressed much the strong need of support and co-ordination to build movement around Khaslnad for the benefit of landless people in the district. The chief guest Badrul Alam expressed optimism on the continued struggle of the landless people to establish their right to land which of the source of livelihood of people in the locality. He seriously criticized the role of land grabbers and influentials who are systematically evicting the landless people from the Rasulpur Khaschar in association with few corrupt bureaucrats. The conference formed new committees of Bangladesh Krishok Federation and Bangladesh Kishani Sabha for Barisal District which took oath to continue the struggle in days to come for the emancipation of peasantry including building of the the Khasland movement.
Minutes of the Preparatory Meeting
The preparatory meeting was held at the COAST Principal Office, Dhaka on February 02, 2015. The meeting was presided over by Badrul Alam of Bangladesh Krishak Federation. Golam Sarwar (BAFLAF), Subal Sarkar (BBS), Jayed Iqbal Khan (BKF-JI), Sabina Yasmin (BKS), Shibly Anwar (LRC) and Rina Akhter of KKM were present in the meeting. The meeting was facilitated by Md. Mujibul Haque Munir of COAST Trust.
Discussion and Decision
01. Plan of Activities for the First Quarter
The Workshop to Review organizational status and the previous year will be held on 10th February. Two persons from each organization will participate.
Monthly meeting for February will be organized on 28th February.
Other planned activities for the first quarter are: In house assessment meeting, workshop to review organizational plan, preparation of profile and if budget permits the external survey on the FOs
02. New participating organization
According to plan of MTCP2 Bangladesh, a new organization will be included, Bangladesh Fishworkers Alliance will be participating in MTCP2 Bangladesh. As in Bangladesh we have farmers, female farmers, indigenous group, farm laboures, fisher group will add a new dimension in terms of participation. In 2016 we will include more two organizations; one proposal is BAFLF women wing.
03. Bank Account opening
An organizational Bank account is must for fund transfer. Bust some FOs are experiencing difficulties in opening Bank Account, two proposals in this regard:
COAST will support to open the Bank Joint Account in Krishi Bank as a Project of COAST, or they will have to open their account within March. Final decision in this regard will be informed on 10th February Meeting.
04. Travel Allowance
Presently all participants are getting same amount as travel allowance for meeting participation. Meeting suggests that, it is not fair for the participants join from out of Dhaka. So, there is a proposal to allocate BDT 1500 for participants from out of the Dhaka and BDT 800 for participants come from within Dhaka.
Preparation of Organizational Profile in IFAD prescribed format is an important activities of MTCP2. The secretariat is responsible to do that with the support of the FO. To prepare the profile organizational visits will be made from COAST. In February there will be two visits
06. External Survey
An external survey will be conducted to identify the strength, weakness of participating organizations. The survey will also identify recommendations. The meeting welcomes the idea and process.
As there was no other discussion the chair concluded the meeting with vote of thanks.
Asia-Europe Peoples Forum (AEPF) organized a conference on “21 Century Trade and Investment Policies: Challenges and Implication on Land and Natural Resources in Asia and Europe” at Ambhara hotel in Jakrata, Indonesia. There were 35 delegates from different organizations from Asia and Europe. ASM Badrul Alam, President of Bangladesh Krishok Federation attended the conference as one of the panel speakers. He was assigned to speak on the “EU investment in Bangladesh as well as South Asia. Mr. Alam pointed out that EU has a significant investment in Bangladesh focussing major three areas such as 1. Human and Social Development 2. Good Governments and Human Rights 3. Economic and Trade Development. Apart from this it covers the areas of environment, climate change, employment generation, gender equity and life and livelihood security activities, etc. Moreover, EU provides with humanitarian aid in response to emergencies in Bangladesh. In 2007-13 the total investment of EU in Bangladesh amounts Euro 410 millions. EU’s investment in Bangladesh is not non-criticized. There is question about the impact of investment on the target people. It is also questioned whether it is really contributing to the development of the country as a whole. Mr. said that there is a lot of rumour about the development of Bangladesh. It has been said that Bangladesh would be developed country within 2050. Whereas the scientists predicted that one-third of the country in the south would go under water within 2050 due to climate change. It is quite clear that Bangladesh is the front line victim of climate change and it is a big challenge for its development. Therefore, the optimism and reality are quite contradictory. He added that it is time to assist Bangladesh for its development in all respects. But because of the speculation it is deprived from material assistance from outside. Mr. Alam mentioned the position of EU about Bangladesh. He branded the EU position very soft and tangible. He quoted the EU position “Bangladesh’s economic performance has been dynamic and strong. Foreign investment into Bangladesh and trade with other countries (especially the EU), have contributed greatly to this. New jobs have been created and the skills base of the country has been improved, increasing its potential productivity and earning for the future.” Mr. Alam said that EU has its particular policy in its trade and investment in South Asia. It is the largest trading partner of South Asia. It aims at the area of human rights and democracy building in South Asia. In spite of all of this, a research conducted IPSS based in Sri Lanka shows that “EU policy in this area lacks consistency, has not been very effective and has not made a significant impact.” Mr. Alam prioritized in its presentation the need of review of the EU’s policy in South Asia.
Consultation Meeting between Badrul Alam and Landless Leaders of Satkhira District
The landless leaders living in Norarcharkona under Devehata sub-district in Satkhira district came to the central office of Bangladesh Krishok Federation on 7 January 2015 for consultation about the prevailing situation in the areas. Bangladesh Krishok Federation Badrul Alam shared their concern with deep attention. They informed that the identified enemies of landless people has been prompted again to grab the landless’ land in the name of Jalmahal (Water bodies). Recently they collected a receiver order from the 2nd Session Judge Court of Satkhira and tried to evict the landless people by dint of that order. However, the landless people are so united that they could not do so yet. The vested interest groups are trying to use the administration against the landless people in various ways.
The landless people’s advocate, Hasnat Quiyum sent a Demand Justice Notice to the Deputy Commissioner saying that a case against the receiver will be lodged with High court as quick as possible. Until the period the DC was requested not to take any step in this regard.
It can be mentioned that in 2006 the landless people filed writ petition in the High Court asking for an order that will ensure the transformation of the water bodies to agricultural land and the distribution of land among the genuine landless people who are in the possession already as permanent settlement.
Furthermore in 1982 there was an order from the High Court which clearly pointed out the distribution of excess ceiling Khasland among the landless people.
It is memorable that in 1998 there was a country shaken insurgent in the landless territory in Satkhira which established the legitimacy of landless people there. In that insurgent Zayeda, the leader of Bangladesh Kishani Sabha was brutally killed by the then police administration. Afterwards a bazar called Zayeda Nagar was established in the spot where Zayeda was shot to death.
Badrul Alam made the comment that the further rise of local land grabbers is alarming. Expressing his concern Badrul Alam aked them to be united and advised them to continue the advocacy and lobbying activities alongside the movement. He expressed the optimism that victory is always with militant grass-root and the support of Bangladesh Krishok Federation is extended towards landless people forever. Office Secretary Pathak Lal Golder was present in the meeting to note down.
Permanent settlement of Khasland among the landless people demanded
On 25 December 2014 Bangladesh Krishok Federation and Bangladesh Kishani Sabha, Babugonj Upzela Unit jointly organized a peasant activists’ conference in Lakutia Bazar in Babugonj sub-district under Barisal district. Presided over by Bangladesh Krishok Federation Babugonj Sub-district Unit Secretary Shahidul Islam Sentu, the conference was addressed by the chief guest, Barisal District Krishok Federation President Md. Harun Bhandary, the special guest, Barisal District Kishani Sabha President Rehana Begum Mitu, Barisal District Secretary Md. Halim Mahari, Kisani Sabah district Acting Secretary Minara Begum, Acting Publicity Secretary of District Krishok Federation Md. Yusuf Akand, Office Secretary Mohammad Mamun Khan, Barisal City Corporation leader Abdul Karim, Sima Begum, Babugonj Sub-district Unit Publication Secretary Mohammad Harun Miah, Publicity Secretary Aliz Begum, Organizing Secretary Harun-Ur-Rashid, Female organizing Secretary Rani Begum, Office Secretary Mala Begum, Office Secretary Mohammad Monirul Islam and other leaders of city corporation, Barisal district and Babugonj sub-district. The speakers demanded the distribution of Khasland among the genuine landless people according to the official Khasland Settlement and Management Manual of the country. They added the present government made the commitment to give away the Khasland among the landless. However, the bona fide landless people are not getting the land whatever initiative they are taking. Rather the local influentials in the areas possessed the Khasland forcefully. Although the landless people have submitted application to the concerned department for land, the influential big land owners are getting the settlement by name or non-name instead of bribe resulting in huge corruption with the help of local musclemen and touts. They are also selling the plot of Khasland to others illegally. The peasant-landless people want to get relief and shelter from the local ill-interest working under the sponsor of the administration. At the end of the conference new Babuganj Sub-district Committee of Krishok Federation and Kishani Sabha with 11 members each were formed.
On the 29th November 2014 Bangladesh Krishok Federation President distributing warm cloths among the landless people living in the remote island called Sikderer Char in Dakkhin Aicha, Bhola district. Bhola Island is one of the climate change affected areas which is situated in the southern coastal belt of Bangladesh.
Rangpur district is one of poorest northern districts in Bangladesh. Poverty and malnutrition are daily matters in the district. There is a lot of Khasland in the district which can be source of livelihood of the poor people. Unfortunately the poor do not have any access to the Khasland. The local influentials with the help of local vested interest have been enjoying the land over the years. The land should be taken-over and distributed among the landless and indigenous people.
On 29 November 2014 a press conference was held with Asadul Islam Sarker(Asad) in the chair in Hotel Mitali, Rangpur. Bangladesh Adivasi Samity President Sree Biswnath Singh, Advisor of Bangladesh Adivasi Samity Abul Hossain, Bangladesh Kishani Sabha Central Committee Member Sabina Yasmin, Bangladesh Krishok Federation Rangpur District Committee Secretary Aminul Islam Kachu present in the meeting and answered to the question posed by the journalists. In the press conference it is said that the 70 percent people in the district are landless. 80 percent Khasland are with hand of local influentials and rich people. The speakers at the conference asked the government to take proper initiative to recover the land and give away among the genuine landless and indigenous people in the district.
There are 60 persons present in the press conference including 12 journalists. Quite a number of dailies gave the coverage of the news in the press conference. 30 percent of the participants were women.
All Khaslands in the district should be recovered immediately
All Khaslands should be distributed and settled among the landless and indigenous people
Based on the experience of the press conference it is decided that a study should be conducted on the census of the Khasland.
Training for the landless should be held in order to make them understand of their rights to Khasland.
Through the press conference it has been clear that the landless people are keen with fighting spirit to have the Khasland for their livelihood purpose.
The confidence level of the landless people has increased.
The fight-back should continue in the district for the benefit of the landless and indigenous people.
Bangladesh Kishani Sabha
Barisal is one of the southern districts where a many landless people live in sub-human life. There is a lot of Khas island in the district. The local administration is not taking any steps to distribute this Khasland among the landless people although there is a concrete Khash agricultural land management and settlement manual in the country which is in favor of the landless people.
On 29 November Bangladesh Krishok Federation organized a mobilization in Barisal district town demanding the Khasland distribution among the landless men and women in the district.
Presided over by Bangladesh Krishok Federation Barisal District Committee President Harun Bhandari, Bangladesh Kishani Sabha Barisal District Committee President Mitu Begum, Bangladesh Krishok Federation Barisal District Secretary Halim Mahuri, District committee member Abdul Jabber, Moni Begum, Hira Begum, among others, addressed the meeting.
The speakers demanded to the government to recover all the Khas abandoned land and distribute them among the landless men and women in the district. They also demanded permanent settlement of the land occupied by the landless people in Rasulpur near Barisal city. They also demanded the removal of the illegal land grabbers from the Khasland.
The participants of the landless people were much encouraged by the mobilization. They reaffirmed their commitment to the struggle. There were 40 percent female in the participants.
They expressed their pledges to continue the struggle until the final goal is achieved.
ASM Badrul Alam