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Persecutions In Chittagong Hill Tracts

The Chittagong Hill Tracts are situated on the border of Bangladesh and Burma (Myanmar), and house diverse ethnic peoples, mostly Buddhist, known collectively as the Jummah peoples.

They have suffered from persecutions from the time of Independence (1971).
Recent News:
Chittagong Hill Tracts: Dozens Injured in the Settlers’ Attack
Over two dozen Chakma and Marma tribals have been injured when their villages at Joy Sen Para, Nuapara and Massyachara under Khagrachari district of Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh were attacked yesterday morning at 8 am onward by the illegal plain settlers and the security forces. Out of the injured, 16 have been injured seriously and admitted at Khagrachari district hospital while Tukko Chakma who has been in danger has been shifted to Chittagong Medical College Hospital.
Four Marma girls including Thoai Prajai Marma, 16 years and Abeng Kroi Marmam 20 years have also been raped. One Buddhist monk Reverend Sumonalankar Bhikkhu of Bouddha Shishu Mono Ghar at Kutting Tila has been missing.

The Bangladesh security forces have surrounded the villages and stopped the entry of visitors to the affected areas.

The tribal villagers were attacked after they protested against planting of jackfruit samplings by the illegal settlers inside the premises of the Buddhist temple in an attempt to take over the lands of the indigenous Jumma peoples yesterday i.e. 2 April 2006. The illegal plain settlers went back yesterday and returned today to systematically attack the tribal villages with the assistance of the security forces.

Asian Centre for Human Rights condemned the attack on the innocent villagers and termed the incident as another incident of gross human rights violations with impunity.

“This continuing violations of the rights of indigenous Jumma people is an issue which requires immediate interventions of the United Nations, European Union and other key actors of the international community” – stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of ACHR.

Background: The Chittagong Hill Tracts is the homeland of indigenous tribal communities. In 1980s, the government sponsored the transfer of over half a million settlers to make the indigenous peoples minority in their own land. About 70,000 tribal refugees sought shelter in India from 1986 to1989. Majority of the refugees were sent back following the signing of the CHTs Accord between the Bangladesh government and the Jana Samhati Samiti on 2 December 1997. The indigenous communities continue to face systematic attack as the Accord has been left in tatters.

Some background information from:
The total population of the CHT, in 1991 census, was 974,445 of which 51,43% were indigenous Jumma people and 48,57% were non-indigenous Bengalis. At the time of the independence of India in 1947, only 9% of the population of the CHT was non- indigenous.

Ethnic Diversity:
About 13 indigenous ethnic groups, collectively known as the Jumma people, live in the CHT area. The three largest groups are the Chakma, the Marma and the Tripura.


Brief History:
1971 CHT became part of Bangladesh after Bangladesh’s war of independence from Pakistan.

1972 The sovereignty and rights of the indigenous people were denied Bangladesh constitution. The result was that a new national movement, Jana Sanghati Samiti (JSS), was founded.

1973 The Shanti Bahini was formed, which constituted the armed wing of the JSS.

1986 The Bangladesh army and Bengali Muslim settlers went on a rampage of killing and destruction of north-eastern CHT.

1989 The Bangladesh parliament passed four laws to resolve the conflict. Thousands of refugees fled to the state of Tripura, India, where six relief camps were created.

1996 The Bangladesh Awami League government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hassina assumed the power. A National Committee was formed by the new government to resume the negotiations.

Current situation:
The situation of the Jumma peoples has not changed despite of the change of the government in Bangladesh. The Jana Sanghati Samiti maintained their cease-fire to encourage progress in the negotiations. An international pressure will be needed to persuade the Bangladesh government to meet the demands of the Jummas regarding of withdrawal of troops and the departure of Bengali settlers transferred by the government to lands belonging to the Jumma people. The issue of genuine autonomy for the entire CHT region is not yet resolved also. Both external and internal dislocation of Jumma families, as a result of human rights violations and evictions, have severally disrupted the entire socio-economic life in the area.

There have been recently a lot of problems for the local non-Muslim people, as both communist outlaws and also Islamist terrorists of the JMB and JMJB have been hiding out in CHT.

As a result, the peoples there have been subjected to brutalisation by army and security forces hunting down these “rebels”:

Oct 9, 2005:
‘Stop violence against indigenous people’
Staff Correspondent

Protesting army repression on the ethnic minority groups in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), Hill Women’s Federation (HWF) placed a four-point demand at a press conference at the National Press Club in the city yesterday to stop violence on indigenous people.
The federation demanded immediate arrest of an army major and his associates responsible for attacks on several ethnic families at Babuchhara under Dighinala thana in Khagrachhari district on October 2.

The other demands included judicial inquiry into the incident, compensation to the victim’s families, withdrawal of army camps from CHT including Babuchhara and stopping of ‘Operation Uttaran.’

The federation alleged that the members of the army ransacked the house of HWF convenor Rupali Chakma and beat her severely on an allegation of keeping arms.

They also beat two other women named Kalika Chakma and Sufiya Chakma and threatened to abduct Kalika’s minor girl Muktamoni, it claimed.

The army persons also dug out the floor of their houses in search of arms.

After the publication of the story in Bhorer Kagoj on October 3, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) department denied the allegation in a statement on October 6.

Terming the ISPR statement as totally inaccurate, the speakers at the press conference said it was issued only to protect the army persons.

In a written statement at the press conference, federation President Sonali Chakma said the repression on women in CHT is nothing new and the army always tries to suppress its evil activities.

Former President of HWF Kabita Chakma, and Office Secretary Malina Chakma were present on the occasion.

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