1. Training course on ‘Women Land Rights and Access to Khas Land”
21-26 November, 2015- ALRD organized a training course on ‘Women Land Rights and Access to Khas Land” under the National Engagement Strategy (NES- supported by ILC), at ALRD premises Dhaka. Twenty two participants from 12 different partner organizations have taken part in the said training course out of which 08 were female and rest 14 were male. The main objective of the training course was to sensitize the partner organizations and their beneficiaries on the women right to land and other resources. Participants committed that they could disseminate the lessons learned to the beneficiaries and stakeholders in their respective working areas. They would also undertake advocacy for creating pressure on the government and policy makers so that they obey the international instruments, conventions etc. ratified by the state regarding women rights including the safeguards given in Bangladesh constitution. The output of the training course was to develop network with other likeminded organization and by movement the organization including women headed organization demanding women’s land rights.
2. Fact Finding visit to Govindaganj, Gaibandha
On 01 December 2015, a civic delegation comprising of eminent citizens conducted a fact finding visit to Govidaganj upazila of Gaibandha district of Rangpur division. Along with Bangladesh Jatiyo Adibasi Parishad, ALRD organised the visit to probe the allegation of land deprivation of the local inhabitants who mostly belongs to the indigenous community. Eminent politician and president of Oikko NAP (United National Awami Party, a national political party) Pankaj Vattachariya, polite bureau member of Workers Party of Bangladesh Bimal Bishwas and Jatiyo Adivasi Parishad (JAP) president Rabindranath Soren took part in the civic delegation. A.K.M. Bulbul Ahmed from ALRD and Subash Hembrom from JAP also took part in it. The delegation met the deputy commissioner (chief executive officer) of Gaibandha district at his office, met the local press at Gaibandha Press Club. The delegation members also visited to the government owned Rangpur Sugar Mills Limited to meet its Managing Director. They also visited to the very Sahebganj Sugar Cane Farm area and attended the meeting with the local people. The local people were claiming the lands to be returned to them which had been acquired in 1962 by the then government giving them nominal compensation. Almost 1800 acres of lands were acquired only to grow sugar cane for Rangpur Sugar Mills. The Mills authority, however, was allegedly using most of the lands for other purposes violating the condition of acquisition. According to the very condition of acquiring the land, the former owners are entitled to get their land back if the farm authority uses the land other than sugar cane farming. The delegation observed that the most of the parts of the farm were being used for paddy, potato, mustard; etc farming and only a few lands were being used for sugarcane. Local influential people got the lands for farming through lease from the farm authority but the former land owners had no access in the lease process.
3. NES country platform meeting
Land grabbing poses a severe epidemic across the country due to inefficiency, corruption and apathy of a section of land administration officials— it also increases harassment and sufferings to the people. This aggression over land will not be released to anyone. Homestead of small farmers, marginal farmers, religious minorities, indigenous peoples living in plains and hills, agricultural land, khas land etc. are squatting legally and illegally by the influential figures with the support of some corrupted land officials. As a result, indigenous, marginalized landless people are being uprooted from the ground. In this situation, a joint initiative between the rights-based organizations has become truly urgent to protect the rights of marginalized communities over land. Therefore, ALRD organized an Opinion Sharing on Coordinated Initiative for Protection of Land Rights of Marginalized Communities with 21 representatives from like-minded partners and some national organizations on 22nd December 2015 at ALRD conference hall with the support of ILC.
A presentation with synopsis of some fact finding investigations on “land grabbing, unethical acquisition and allotment of agricultural lands, forest lands including indigenous people’s lands in different parts of the country” made by ALRD which showed the statistical figures of land grabbing in different areas to initiate the discussion. Some recommendations such as media campaign, organize grassroots movement, policy discussions with lawmakers-related ministries, building pressure group in district level, press conference, formation of alliance or coalition, involved National Human Rights Commission, etc. came out in this meeting as joint effort to prevent land-grabbing.