Human rights activists have called upon the government to pay compensation to the families of Chayanipara Rakhine village in Kalapara upazila of Patuakhali who have been evicted for the development of the Payra seaport.
The demand was made at a civil society virtual press conference on Wednesday.
Professor Dr Robayet Ferdous of the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism at the Dhaka University read out a written statement at the press conference.
He said the three hundred year old Rakhine village was now on the verge of extinction, a victim of land acquisition for the third Payra seaport. On the night of 10 June, the entrance to the Rakhine neighbourhood was cut off.
He said hundreds of Rakhine families once lived in this Chayanipara in Madhyatiakhali village, Kalapara.
Professor Dr Robayet Ferdous said now there are six families with 26 household members in all and the total land area of this neighbourhood is eight acres. Of this, the land being acquired includes the homes of six families on 5.54 acres, the value of which is about Tk3.5 crore.
He said a case was pending in the High Court over a dispute with a local named Gazi Abbas Uddin Bachchu, concerning ownership of the land.
He added that the Rakhine people understand the tenuous uncertainty of any award or compensation for their land from the district administration given the pending case, and agreed to leave if they were provided compensation for their homes and infrastructure.
"But they have not yet been paid the government set price of Tk 91.46 lakh by the acquisition branch of the district administration," said Professor Dr Robayet Ferdous.
Veteran politician Pankaj Bhattacharya said rehabilitation should not be in name alone.
"These 26 people have to be compensated in advance. They need to be rehabilitated and relocated to wherever there is a Rakhine ethnic community. They must be provided guest funeral crematorium grounds, and a general funeral crematorium ground," he added.
Pankaj Bhattacharya said rehabilitation in a cluster village or any Bengali inhabited area would not be acceptable.
Advocate Sultana Kamal, an adviser to the former caretaker government, said the six families should be properly rehabilitated. Aspects of their way of life should be understood and respected.
"We should be rehabilitated in Rakhine inhabited areas where a crematorium with a Buddhist temple has to be built," said Ching Dhamg on behalf of the Rakhine community.
"Our sons and daughters should be given jobs at the port. We have lost our pond, our crematorium and our homes. We are helpless, left in a hopeless situation."
Moderated by Sanjeeb Drong, General Secretary of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, General Secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolan, Sharif Jamil, Central Member of Bangladesh Adivasi Forum,
Myentthein Promila, and Associate Professor of Anthropology at Dhaka University, Dr Zobaida Nasreen, also spoke at the programme.