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Amnesty International’s reports on CHT

29 Feb 2004 Amnesty International- Call for Justice- Mahalchari – CHT

More than six years after the signing of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord, the tribal inhabitants of the area continue to live in fear of attacks from Bengali settlers often carried out with the apparent connivance of army personnel. This paper highlights one of these attacks which took place in August 2003 in the Mahalchari area of the Khagrachari District. According to testimonies given to Amnesty International by eyewitnesses, nine women were sexually assaulted, one of whom was subjected to gang rape; a man was killed in front of his family, a nine month old baby was strangled to death and several people sustained serious injuries; hundreds of houses were burnt down and dozens were looted.

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31 Jan 2000 Amnesty International -HR in the CHT

Amnesty International welcomes the peace accord in the Chittagong Hill Tracts as a major step towards the resolution of a situation which had resulted in serious human rights violations in the past. It is high time now for the Government of Bangladesh and the Chittagong Hill Tracts authorities to act decisively to ensure that any abuse of power on the part of law enforcement personnel is prevented and that victims of past and present human rights violations receive truth, justice and redress. All sections of Bangladesh society should cooperate in efforts to build respect for human rights after years of gross abuses. The tribal people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts have for over two decades been the targets of massacres, arbitrary detention, torture and extrajudicial executions(1). They must now be assured that their fundamental human rights will be respected. There is a strong need for the establishment of institutions and mechanisms that promote and protect the rights of the people, that ensure respect for people’s fundamental human rights by the police and local bodies, and that enable the people to invoke appropriate procedures to seek redress for human rights violations. To that end, it is imperative that the government undertakes a thorough review of the law enforcement mechanisms and judicial processes to remove any biases against the rights of the tribal people. At the same time, the National Human Rights Commission should as a matter of priority be established and receive adequate resources to monitor the human rights situation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and recommend appropriate action.    

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April 1992 Amnesty Internation- Killings in Logang-CHT

Amnesty International has received reports that several hundred defenceless tribal inhabitants of Logong village in the Chittagong Hill Tracts were killed on 10 April 1992. The deaths apparently occurred in reprisal for a killing of a Bengali youth by members of the Shanti Bahini (Peace Force), an armed tribal opposition group. Amnesty International is concerned that some of those killed may have been victims of extrajudicial executions, that is deliberate and intentional killings by the security forces. Amnesty International is also greatly concerned about the apparent resumption of large-scale reprisal killings. Reprisal killings by the security forces were reported to Amnesty International in earlier years, for instance in August 1988 when soldiers were reported to have extrajudicially executed tribal villagers in Baghai Chari following a Shanti Bahini attack on an army patrol. In May 1989 members of the Village Defence Party (VDP) were reported to have tortured and killed non-combatant tribal villagers in Langadu in reprisal for a killing of a Bengali official by Shanti Bahini. Amnesty International reported on these incidents in 1990 (see Bangladesh: Reprisal killings of tribal people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in May 1989, AI Index: ASA 13/02/90 and Bangladesh: Reprisal killings of tribal people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in May 1989 – An update, AI Index: ASA 13/05/90).

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30 Nov 1991 Amnesty International update-HR in CHT

In August 1991 Amnesty International published a document, Bangladesh: Human rights in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, 1989-1990 (AI Index: ASA 13/04/91). It describes torture and extrajudicial executions of non-combatant tribal inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts by security forces during 1989 and 1990. These violations occurred in the context of continuing conflict between the security forces and armed tribal groups seeking regional autonomy. The incidents of torture and extrajudicial executions contained in that report took place while the government of President Hossain Mohammad Ershad was still in power. Following the resignation of President Ershad on 6 December 1990, an interim government under Acting President Shahabuddin Ahmed was appointed. Parliamentary elections took place on 27 February 1991. They were won by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party under Begum Khaleda Zia who was sworn in as Prime Minister on 20 March 1991. Amnesty International in early October 1991 drew the attention of the new government to human rights violations in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and submitted its recommendations for remedial action. It urged the government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to take serious note of past abuses in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and to implement preventive measures against future human rights violations. In two instances described in the report published by Amnesty International in August 1991 the authorities appear to have initiated investigations into reported human rights violations: the extrajudicial killings at Langadu in May 1989 and the rape of tribal women by security forces in Rangamati district in October 1990. Amnesty International called on the Bangladesh Government to provide further information on these investigations giving details of the methods of inquiry and their findings. Although criminal charges were said to have been brought against the suspected perpetrators, at least in the Langadu incident, it is not known what the precise charges were, nor whether those involved had in fact been brought to trial. Amnesty International learned from unofficial sources that the rape incident in 1990 had been investigated and that at least two of the soldiers had been disciplined. When it submitted its report to the Bangladesh Government in October 1991 Amnesty International sought further information on whether all the alleged perpetrators have in fact been charged or tried for the offence under criminal law. To date the Government of Bangladesh has not replied to Amnesty International’s queries. Amnesty International has received a number of reports of human rights violations alleged to have taken place since the beginning of 1991, both under the interim government and under the government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. They include instances of unacknowledged detention, detention without trial, beating of tribal detainees in police or military custody, torture and death in custody, including possible extrajudicial executions. In the course of searches of villages suspected to harbour members of the Shanti Bahini (Peace Force), an armed opposition group, houses as well as property of the tribal population were frequently reported to have been destroyed by military personnel or the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles. Some of the violations were also reported to have been deliberately committed in order to force the tribal population to move to cluster villages. Amnesty International has also learned about some instances of violation of the freedom of expression in relation to events in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.          

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1989-1990 Amnesty International- HR in the CHT

In August 1991 Amnesty International published a document, Bangladesh: Human rights in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, 1989-1990 (AI Index: ASA 13/04/91). It describes torture and extrajudicial executions of non-combatant tribal inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts by security forces during 1989 and 1990. These violations occurred in the context of continuing conflict between the security forces and armed tribal groups seeking regional autonomy. The incidents of torture and extrajudicial executions contained in that report took place while the government of President Hossain Mohammad Ershad was still in power. Following the resignation of President Ershad on 6 December 1990, an interim government under Acting President Shahabuddin Ahmed was appointed. Parliamentary elections took place on 27 February 1991. They were won by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party under Begum Khaleda Zia who was sworn in as Prime Minister on 20 March 1991. Amnesty International in early October 1991 drew the attention of the new government to human rights violations in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and submitted its recommendations for remedial action. It urged the government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to take serious note of past abuses in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and to implement preventive measures against future human rights violations. In two instances described in the report published by Amnesty International in August 1991 the authorities appear to have initiated investigations into reported human rights violations: the extrajudicial killings at Langadu in May 1989 and the rape of tribal women by security forces in Rangamati district in October 1990. Amnesty International called on the Bangladesh Government to provide further information on these investigations giving details of the methods of inquiry and their findings. Although criminal charges were said to have been brought against the suspected perpetrators, at least in the Langadu incident, it is not known what the precise charges were, nor whether those involved had in fact been brought to trial. Amnesty International learned from unofficial sources that the rape incident in 1990 had been investigated and that at least two of the soldiers had been disciplined. When it submitted its report to the Bangladesh Government in October 1991 Amnesty International sought further information on whether all the alleged perpetrators have in fact been charged or tried for the offence under criminal law. To date the Government of Bangladesh has not replied to Amnesty International’s queries. Amnesty International has received a number of reports of human rights violations alleged to have taken place since the beginning of 1991, both under the interim government and under the government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. They include instances of unacknowledged detention, detention without trial, beating of tribal detainees in police or military custody, torture and death in custody, including possible extrajudicial executions. In the course of searches of villages suspected to harbour members of the Shanti Bahini (Peace Force), an armed opposition group, houses as well as property of the tribal population were frequently reported to have been destroyed by military personnel or the paramilitary Bangladesh Rifles. Some of the violations were also reported to have been deliberately committed in order to force the tribal population to move to cluster villages. Amnesty International has also learned about some instances of violation of the freedom of expression in relation to events in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.               

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May 1989 An update- reprisal killings – CHT

In March 1990 Amnesty International published a short report, Bangladesh: Reprisal Killings of Tribal People in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in May 1989 (AI Index 13/02/90). At least 36 tribal people had reportedly died in May 1989 at Langadu in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in reprisal attacks by non-tribal settlers in the area and members of the Village Defence Party, a civilian defence force with official status. The attacks were apparently in reprisal for the murder of Abdur Rashid Sarkar (a non-tribal resident of Langadu and Chairperson of the sub-district council) by the Shanti Bahini, an armed tribal opposition group. A report sent to Amnesty International by the Government of Bangladesh in June 1989, one month after the killings, was summarized in Amnesty International’s March 1990 publication on the incident. It represented the attack as a spontaneous outburst by non-tribal people retaliating for the murder of Abdur Rashid Sarkar, which the security forces immediately tried to contain. Other reports received by Amnesty International, however, had indicated that the attacks on tribal people began more than two hours after the murder of Abdur Rashid Sarkar and continued throughout the night affecting between six and eleven villages, and that the Village Defence Party was directly involved in killing defenceless tribal villagers.

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