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Cries for justice fall on deaf ears

Sat, 2008-07-26 01:29

By Kamal Rajapakse

Asian Centre for Human Rights issued a damning indictment of human rights violations in the Chittagong Hill Tracts by Bangladesh government. It says “This deliberate act of arson, looting, assault and rape, leading to the destruction of seven Jumma villages is reminiscent of similar attacks which forced over 70,000 indigenous Jumma peoples to cross the international border and seek refuge in India in 1985-1986 “

Human rights violations in the CHTs is nothing new to the international community. Almost every big player who monitors human rights had produced reports after reports during the past twenty years. Foreign missions in Dhaka visit CHTs on fact finding missions. Their missions have not had any impact on Islamization of Chittagong Hill Tracts by Bangladesh government.

One of the clauses of The 1997 Peace Accord is to dismantle all temporary military camps. According to the CHTs Commission three years after the agreement only 32 out of over 500 have been dismantled.Today Chittagong Hill Tracts is one of the most militarised zones on earth. The main objectives of the military administration (the de facto government) is to suppress Jumma activists and to give guidance and support to the civil administration to settle Bengali Muslims in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

To avoid another bloody rebellion by the indigenous tribes, Bangladesh armed forces have adopted counter-insurgency measures throughout the CHTs. Army camps and check points are so numerous, it is difficult for Jummas to move freely from one place to another. Very often security forces arrest Jummas on false charges in connection with terrorists activities. As emergecy laws are in force since January 2007 there is no protection under law.Jummas who have been accused face toture and extra-judicial execution.

Under the cloak of emergency laws Bangladesh army have also intensified its land grabbing. Army forcibly evict Jumma people from their land. Their land has been given to illegal Muslim settlers and provides protection to them. There are nearly half a million Bengalis settled in ethnic cleansed land in Chinttagong Hill Tracts.

Despite the systematic extermination of Jumma people it is beyond comprehension why international community is propping up the Bangladesh armed forces. Its air force now operates upgrade version of the Mig-29 and Mi17 and Bell helicopters.Chinese supply military hardware to its forces. Bangladesh officers were trained at the Royal College of Defence Studies and at the Joint Services Command & Staff College in the UK. USA and India have also given training to Bangladesh officers in their respective countries.

1997 Peace Accord was hailed as a breakthrough by the international community. After ten years, Bangladesh government has not fulfilled any of the fundamental demands of the Jumma people. One cannot perceive it will implement any in the near future. There is no doubt that the gradual extinction of the Jumma people who do not have any political or military clout is not a concern of the international community any more.

– Asian Tribune –



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