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FOREIGN AID AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

Following report has been taken from Organizing Committee Chittagong Hill Tracts Campaign’s report Human Rights in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh title

“The Charge of Genocide”

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FOREIGN AID AND DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

The Bangladesh Government often seeks foreign aid for the economic and social development of the tribal people. After receiving the aid the military regime uses the money for the military and for the Bengali settlers and not for the local people. For example:

1)      USAID (United States Agency for International Development) – financed Kaptai Hydro-electric Dam benefited the outsider Bengalis only.

2)      SIDA (Swedish International Development Agency) – funded Forest Development Project created job opportunities for the Bengalis only.

3)      UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) – aided Drinking Water Supply Scheme benefited only army camps, Bengali colonies, urban centres and concentration camps.

4)      WHO (World Health Organisation) – organised Malaria Eradication Project has been used to protect the armed forces and the Bengali settlers.

5)      ADAB (Australian Development Assistance Bureau) – sponsored Chengi Valley Road Building Project has been used to facilitate army movement in the hills and to open up the interior to the Bengali immigrants.

6)      ADB (Asian Development Bank)- assisted Livestock and Fisheries Programmes have benefited the Bengali newcomers.

7)      ADB (Asian Development Bank) – financed Joutha Khamar Projects or Joint Farming Projects are really concentration camps for the tribal farmers who have been forced to leave their ancestral homes and farmlands to accommodate the Bengali invaders.

The people of the CHT welcome foreign aid if it is used for their benefit. But at present foreign aides are helping the Bengalis only and these outsiders are annihilating the indigenous people. So the tribal people and various Human Rights Groups have appealed to donor countries to stop their aids to Bangladesh. Sweden responded to their appeal by stopping the Forest Development Project on the grounds that the Bangladesh Government refused to employ the hill people in the project. Australia, similarly, pulled out of the road project because the road helped the military and also the Bengali settlers to move deep into the tribal homeland.

The indigenous people have no say in the affairs of the CHT. The Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board, which has been operating since 1975, is not accountable to the tribal leaders. Its tribal members have never been involved in making decisions and they are simply asked to endorse the decisions taken by the senior military leaders or by other Bengali members. One of the tribal members, Mr Niharbindu Chakma, protested against the Board’s policy designed to deprive the tribal people of the benefit of all development project. No action was taken by the authorities to redress his grievances. Instead he was arrested without warrant. His fate is still unknown. The Chairman of Balukhali Union, Mr. Shantimoy Dewan, was also arrested but the was released on condition that he would keep his mouth shut. In fact, the people of the CHT are never consulted by the government before any decisions are taken and they have no opportunity to appeal to the higher authorities.

The Anti-slavery Society’ recommends to the international funding agencies and national governments providing development aid for projects in the Chittagong Hill Tracts that they withdraw support where such projects are against the wishes and that all future projects are carried out only after consultation with indigenous people’s representatives’.

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Excerpt from “The Crisis of the Chittagong Hill Tracts”, a report by the Jana Samhati Samiti (JSS) July 1986.



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