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PCJSS International E-Release

PCJSS

International E-Release

May 24, 2005, Tuesday

Appeal to Stop Fresh Settlements and Militarisation in the CHT Region of BANGLADESH

It is reported that last week a very powerful quarter of the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) has decided to allocate free ration to a fresh number of 28,000 (twenty eight thousands) Bengali Muslim settler families. The MoCHTA has been allocating free ration (rice) to about 27,000 Bengali Muslim settler families for the last few years and these families have been getting free ration since 1978 for being government sponsored tranmigrators into the CHT. And now, with the latest GoB decision the number of free ration recipients of Bengali Muslim settlers in the CHT will rise to 55,000 (fifty five thousands) families. It is also learnt that about 10,000 (ten thousands) Bengali Muslim settler

families will be settled in Kassalong Reserved Forest and on the roadsides of the newly built Baghaihat-Sajek road that leads to the border of Mizoram State of India and the Bangladesh Army will be actively engaged to organise and manage the settlement. The Baghaihat-Sajek road has been built through dense Kassalong Reserved Forest from the politico-military point of view, in the name of development; violating the Forest Act of 1927 and Bangladesh Forest (Amendment) Act, 2000. If the said settlement is done it will be again a violation of the clauses of the forest acts. This settlement will completely destroy natural and social environment, as the Sajek Union has the oldest natural forest in the CHT and is populated by Chakma, Tripura and a very small people- Pankhua. They will gradually be pushed out from their traditional land- Sajek of Rangamati Hill District.

It is also reliably learnt that the Bangladesh Army deployed for controlling the CHT region through the “Operation Uttoron” (“Operation Upliftment” that allows militarisation) has recently sought from the GoB rights to re-control the “Tribal Quota” that facilitates the CHT Jumma students go to engineering and agricultural universities and medical colleges and this move is for activating the terms of reference of the “Operation Uttoron”. Before the signing of the CHT Accord in 1997 and even after, it was controlled by the Army from the military points of view. After protests, the previous government handed this responsibility over to the MoCHTA though the CHT Regional Council was the right institution to take care of this responsibility.

The above issues will of course, be implemented in violation of the CHT Accord signed in 1997 between the GoB and the PCJSS. So, the PCJSS fervently appeals to the civil societies, human rights groups, media and NGOs  of Bangladesh and abroad including the donor community to take up all out initiatives so that the GoB stops all these ethnic cleansing blue prints. The millennium development goal strongly accepts the good governance and devolution of power. So, the GoB be asked to strictly follow all the national and international legal obligations/codes and UN instruments in its own country, which will help implement the CHT Accord and demilitarise the CHT region. It is also observed that in recent months the BD Army has accelerated activities in the CHT region in many forms. It is reported that Mr. Mani Swapan Dewan, M.P. and Deputy Minister, MoCHTA was asked to stop his speed boat by the army check post personnel of Dighalchari Army Zone Headquarters in Belaichari Upazila (Sub-district) while he was proceeding towards Farua with Police escort, some three months back and Dr. Maniklal Dewan, Chairman, Rangamati Hill District Council, holding the status of Deputy Minister was also forced to stop his speed boat at a check post under Jurochari Upazila and was misbehaved and even was asked to climb up the hilltop for reporting to the Army camp commander, while he was in an official tour with Police escort and the UNO (Sub-district Administrative Officer) of Jurochari Upazila. In another recent incident on March 4, 2005 Dr. Dewan was forced to stop his jeep by some Captain Quader at a place in between Lemuchari and Chongrachari under Mahalchari Upazila where some Bengali Muslim settlers were constructing their houses on the lands of Jumma people and the Captain, in stead of saluting rather ill-treated Dr. Dewan. These three examples are enough to judge the gravity of the situation and intensity of militarisation in the CHT. The PCJSS also calls upon the GoB and the law makers of the country to take adequate measures to stop all land grabbing, uprooting of Jumma people, allocation of free ration to a fresh Bengali Muslim settlers, the Sajek settlement, militarisation and start implementation of the CHT Accord without fail for a better situation in the CHT region.

Sources:

PCJSS

(Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti)




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