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Sajek update: army arrests four Jummas

News No. 109/2008, June 16, 2008

Army personnel from Baghaihat zone arrested four innocent Jumma villagers from their homes in an overnight raid on 14 June, sources said. This comes nearly two months after the 20 April settler-attack on a number of Jumma villages that left 77 houses, two Unicef-run village schools and one church burnt to the ground.

Sources said the Jummas were arrested from Gongaram Doar and Daney Baibachara villages at around 11 p.m. The arrested are Sunil Bikash Chakma (32) s/o Subhash Bashu Chakma of village Gongaram Doar, Phorakaji Chakma aged 28 s/o Rojonya Chakma and Sumon Chakma aged 30 from Daney Baihachara village, and Badichan Chakma aged 35 s/o Dhonnya Ram Chakma of village Kobakhali, Dighinala.

They were taken to Baghaihat zone and tortured inhumanly. The following day, the army released Phorakaji Chakma and Badichan Chakma, but handed the other two over to the police implicating them in false cases.

The reason for the arrest could not be known. However, the Jummas have been demanding the withdrawal of the settlers from Sajek. They are enforcing a boycott of Baghaihat bazaar to force the government to accept this demand.

When Sunil Bikash Chakma’s wife contacted the zone office on 15 June, Warrant Officer Harun told her “We are not responsible for their arrest because they have been arrested by the joint forces.”

Sajek has been the scene of a joint army-settler attack that left 77 Jummas houses, a church and two unicef-run Village Centres burnt to the ground.

The incident, which took place on 20 April, evoked national and international outcry, but the government refused to bring back the settlers who are blamed for taking away Jumma’s land with the support of the army. The attack was aimed at driving the Jummas from their villages to facilitate new Bengali settlement.

After the incident not a single culprit was arrested. Instead, the army launched a manhunt against the Jummas. They arrested four villagers on 28 April and 1 June.

Although three of them were released on bail, Sneha Kumar Chakma (38), arrested on 1 June after being called to the camp, is still being held in jail. The army implicated him in a criminal case filed previously against unnamed persons on 13 January 2008 under sections 143/144/149/224/332/34 of the Bangladesh Penal Code. (Case No. 3. dated 13/1/08. G.R. No. 14/08)

Sneha Kumar Chakma was arrested because he was vocal against land aggression and expansion of illegal Bengali settlement in Sajek.

After the 20 April attack, Lt. Col. Sajid Md. Imtiaz, commander of Baghaihat zone, announced that he has a long list of “terrorists” who are active in Sajek. The Jummas have been living in constant fear of arrest since then.

A Jumma human rights activist said since there is little scope to organise protest inside Bangladesh due to a state of emergency, the international community especially the UN and EU should put pressure on the government to stop such flagrant violation of human rights. “The international community has a particular responsibility to pay attention to our plights. It should not sit idle by when we continue to suffer and have come close to extinction as a distinct people” he said. “The voice of the international community should be loud and clear.”

chtnews.com is an independent and voluntary online news service dedicated to projecting and analyzing the current events in the Chittagong Hill Tracts from the perspective of the Jumma people’s struggle for right to self-determination. For further information please contact at: chtnewsonline@gmail.com

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