Monday, March 8, 2010

Press Release

Press Release
The CHT-American Jumma People’s Association (CAJPA)
The Indigenous Jumma People’s Network, USA (IJPNUS)
1595 Hardt St. San Bernardino, CA 92408
E mail: or
We strongly condemn continuous arson the villages of indigenous Jumma peoples and minority ethnic houses in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs), Bangladesh (BD). Local sources said on March 5, 2010, the illegal Bengali Muslim settlers backed by Bangladesh (BD) army personnel burnt down at least six more houses and a UNICEF-run community school in Sajek Union of Rangamati hill district in CHTs.

Similar arson attack carried out there on February 19-20 and subsequent violence that has spread to Khagrachari town and other areas. Over 400 homes of indigenous people as well as several shops, a church, 2 Buddhist temples and a UNDP-run village center have been burned down in Gangaram Mukh, Guchchagram, Hazachhara, Jaralchhari, Dane Gulakmachhara, Bame Gulakmachhara, Simanachhara, Chhurung Nala and Gulakmacchara villages. At least two indigenous Jumma people have been shot dead by army personnel, and dozens have been injured in the incident.

We demand that the government of Bangladesh to immediate and unrestricted access to massacre sites. The government of Bangladesh has so far denied access to the sites. We also demand the intervention of UN and USA for permanent peace in the CHT. Though the “CHT Peace Accord’ 97 ” signed between the Govt. of Bangladesh and the Parbatya Chattyagram Jana Sanghati Samity (an arms resistance group of the local people in CHT) in December 2, 1997 where the demand of indigenous Jumma people’s haven’t reached and the Accord is not implemented after a decade. Since 1980 there have been carried out about 14 major instances of massacre of the Jummas by the illegal Bengali Muslim settlers and in co-operation with the law enforce agencies of Bangladesh that have to be brought into justice.

In March 25, 1980 Kaukhali-Kalampati Massacre where Bangladesh Army and the Bengali Muslim settlers gunned down 300 Jummas. Banraibari-Beltali-Belchari Massacre, June 26, 1981: - settlers under the protection of the BD Army, murdered hundreds of Jummas. Telafang-Ashalong-Tabalchari Massacre, September 19, 1981: - The BD Army and the Bengali settlers invaded the Jumma villages of Feni valley and murdered hundreds of Jummas. Golakpatimachara -Machyachara -Tarabanchari Massacre, June-August 1983: - The BD Army and the settlers executed month’s long campaign against the Jumma villages and murdered 800 Jummas. Bhusanchara Massacre, May 31, 1984 - the massacre was carried out jointly by the 26 Bengal Regiment of the Bangladesh Army and the Bangladeshi settlers. At least 400 Jummas were killed. Many women were gang raped and later shot dead. Panchari Massacre, May 1, 1986 : - hundreds of Jummas (actual number not known) were killed and injured by the Bangladesh Army. 80,000 Jummas fled across the border to India. Matiranga Massacre, May 1986 - The Bangladesh Army gunned down at least 70 Jumma civilians in reprisal to fighting with the Shanti Bahini. Comillatilla, Taindong Massacre, May 18-19, 1986:- the Bangladesh Rifles (a paramilitary force) intercepted 200 Jummas while fleeing across the border to India and opened fired on them. Hirarchar, Sarbotali, Khagrachari, Pablakhali Massacres, August 8-10, 1988:- The Bangladesh Army along with the Bangladeshi settlers killed hundreds of Jumma civilians and gang raped Jumma women. Langadu Massacre, May 4, 1989:- the Bangladeshi settlers murdered 40 Jummas, dead bodies never recovered. Malya Massacre, February 2, 1992:- the Bangladeshi settlers murdered another 30 Jummas. Logang Massacre, April 10, 1992:- the Logang Cluster village burnt into ashes and 1200 Jummas killed by the Bangladeshi military and the Muslim settlers. Naniachar Massacre, November 17, 1993:- about 100 Jummas killed by the Bangladeshi Muslim settlers. Mahalchari Massacre, August 26, 2003:- about 14 villages burnt into ashes at least 2 killed and hundred Jumma injured.

For more detail information please visit:-
Jumma People’s Network United Kingdom >
Asian Center for Human Rights >
Jumma Net, Japan >

Sunday, February 21, 2010

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Navanethem (Navy) Pillay
The UN High Commisoner for Human Rights

Dated: 02/21/2010

Massive communal attack on Inidengous Jumma villages by military forces and Bengali Muslim settlers in Baghaihat area in Rangamati
-United Nations urged to intervene-

On 19-20 February 2010 massive communal attack on Jumma villages was made by military forces and Bengali Muslim settlers at Baghaihat area of Sajek union under Baghaichari upazila in Rangamati hill district. It is reported that at 8 innocent Jumma villagers including a woman were killed and 25 Jumma villagers wounded in this attack. It is learnt that around 200 houses of Jumma villagers including 3 Buddhist temples and a church were completely burnt into ashes.

We urged to intervention of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay with the government of Bangladesh for taking appropriate actions against the burning down of the indigenous Jumma villages and indiscriminate killing of indigenous Jumma peoples since yesterday night i.e. 19th February 2010 by the Bangladesh Army and illegal Bengali Muslim settlers. According to the information received by us this morning, the Bangladesh Army has resumed the burning down of the tribal houses at 6 am GMT (20 February 2010) and the villages are still being burnt at the time of issuing this press release.

At least three innocent Jumma including Lakkhi Bijoy Chakma and Litan Chakma were shot dead this morning (20 February 2010), dozens were injured in the firing by the Bangladesh Army while one Buddhist monk, Purnabash Bhikkhu, has been missing after the Buddhist temple was burnt down. At least four indigenous/tribal villages - Gangaram Doar, Retkaba, Purba Para and Guchachagram - under Sajek Sub-Division of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh have been burnt into ashes. In addition, at least 7 shops in Ladumani bazaar, one UNDP sponsored village centre providing assistance to the indigenous villagers, one church and 3 Buddhist temples were burnt down yesterday night (19 February 2010).

The Bangladesh Army personnel have reportedly erected barricades and have further been preventing the public leaders, civil officials and the journalists from visiting the affected areas. “This particular attack on the indigenous Jumma peoples shows that the government of Bangladesh has failed to change its policy of indiscriminate killings of indigenous Jumma people in order to occupy their lands and implant more illegal plain settlers instead of implementing the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of 1997.”

Since the beginning of January 2010, illegal plain Bengali Muslim settlers with the support of Bangladesh army personnel posted at Baghaihat zone under Rangamati district resumed expansion of their illegal settlement into the villages of the Chakma people. A number of houses have already been erected by the illegal plain settlers by forcibly occupying indigenius Jumma villagers’ lands.

The Jumma villagers under the banner of Sajek Bhumi Rakkha Committee (Sajek Land Rights Protection Committee) submitted a memorandum to the Baghaichhari Upazila Nirbahi Officer on 10 January 2010 with an ultimatum of 16 January 2010 to return them their lands. As the deadline expired without any fruitful result on 16 January 2010, Jumma villagers started their agitation and started to boycott Baghaihat market from 18 January 2010.

The Bangladesh Army personnel and the security forces started burning down the indigenous Jumma villages since yesterday night to increase settlement of illegal plain settlers.

In view of the circumstances and considerations noted above, we urge the Government of Bangladesh to immediately take the following remedial actions:

1. To prevent any further destruction of forensic and other evidence of killing or arson by any party, including the administration and security forces;

2. To also take immediate governmental custody of all dead bodies from the army and settlers, transferring them to neutral civilian government administration members, with the eventual objective of handing these over to the respective families;

3. To undertake an urgent, independent, high level investigation into the killings and allegations of human rights violations in the Baghaihat area of Sajek;

4. To take immediate steps to provide security of life and property, as well as food, water and shelter, for all women, men and children who have been left homeless, insecure and destitute from the arson attacks;

We also urge the Government of Bangladesh to take the following immediate actions:

1. To immediately declare a roadmap for full and comprehensive implementation of the 1997 CHT Accord, in line with the government's election pledge.

2. To withdraw army camps from the three hill districts in accordance with the CHT Accord, as well as terminate Operation Uttaran;

3. To stop Military atrocities and human rights abuses on indigenous people in CHTs;

4. To immediately stop illegal land grabbing and return the illegally occupied lands to their rightful owners;

5. Appointment of indigenous people in all posts under the CHT local government system.

6. Constitutional assurance for the future safeguard of indigenous people and non-repetition.

7. Establishment of international Human Rights Camp in CHTs.

Thanking you

Buddha Ratana Bhikkhu)
The Indigenous Jumma People`s Network, USA

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


6 January 2010

To Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
Government of the Peoples’ Republic of Bangladesh
Prime Minister’s Office Tejgaon, Dhaka

Subject:-Decision to develop tourism in CHT not in conformity with 1997 Peace Accord

Honourable Prime Minister,
The CHT Commission (“CHTC”) congratulates the Awami League‐led government on completing a year in office. At our last meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on August 17, 2009, members of the Commission were heartened when she reasserted her personal commitment to overseeing the implementation of the CT Accord in the span of her government’s current five‐year tenure of office.

We have learned, however, that the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) of the Planning Ministry decided, on 23 December 2009, to develop tourism in the CHT region, contrary to the CHT Accord since the Hill District Council (HDC) was not present and had not been consulted. The PSC met, irregularly, under the CHT Development Board in Rangamati with Committee Chairman Col (retd) Oli Ahmed in the chair. To facilitate tourism, the PSC also resolved to build a road along the bank of the Kaptai Lake and to set up various recreational facilities as part f this project. The road would be connected with Bandarban, Khagrachari and Chittagong district.

There have also been reports in the media that the upazila administration in Bandarban is illegally grabbing land belonging to arma and Bawm communities in the name of tourism development centres (“Allegations of tourism development on Adibashi land in Bandarban” ‐‐Daily Prothom Alo, 24 December 2009; “Adibashis aggrieved at the building of ‘Shorgochura’ tourism centre in Bandarban municipal area” ‐‐Daily Purbokon, 3 January 2010). 40 acres of land have allegedly been marked off with red flags by surveyors to build the tourist spots.

Section 34 in B (kha) of the CHT Accord (CHITTAGONG HILL TRACTS LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCIL/ HILL DISTRICT COUNCIL) provides that ‘Local Tourism’ will ‘be added in the functions and responsibilities of the Hill District Council’. These current acts
Phone + 45 35 27 05 00 Fax + 45 35 27 05 06 Email
are therefore in direct violation of the Peace Accord as the HDCs have not been involved in either the planning or the implemenation of these projects.

The CHTC is also not aware of any studies that have been carried out to assess the environmental impact of the proposed growth f tourism industry in the CHT. We respectfully suggest that expert consultants be invited to assess the sustainability and potential impact of large‐scale tourism on land and water resources. The potential for tourism needs to be linked to other developments in the region in a single comprehensive plan, in the formulation of which democratically elected HDCs should be fully involved.

Madam Prime Minister, the Government of Bangladesh, under your leadership, took a key role at the Copenhagen Climate Change talks. As was discussed at those talks, the world has seen untold environmental damage due to unplanned industrialization and development. Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable to climate change and related environmental damage. Preserving the extremely fragile and precious environment of the Chittagong Hill Tracts is therefore a priority.

The Commission thus urges Honourable Prime Minister to take the necessary steps to rescind the decision by the Planning Ministr to develop tourism centres in Chittagong Hill Tracts without ‐‐ a) consulting the Hill District Council
b) independently assessing the environmental impact
c) taking steps to make sure any new developments are not harmful to the environment
d) preventing further illegal land grabbing from indigenous communities in the name of development. The CHT Commission strongly believes that implementation of the CHT Accord is a must for strengthening democratic good governane, ensuring a people‐oriented and environmentally‐friendly development and rule of law in CHT. The government should immediately declare a roadmap to fully implement the CHT Accord within its present tenure.

On behalf of the CHT Commission
Eric Avebury
Sultana Kamal
Ida Nicolaisen
Co-chair of the CHT Commission

cc to:
1. Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, Honorable Deputy Leader of the House & Chairperson of the National Committee for Implementation of the CHT Peace Accord.
2. Dr. Dipu Moni, Honourable Minister, Foreign Ministry, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Dhaka.
3. Barrister Shafique Ahmed, Honourable Minister, Law, Justice and Parliamentary Ministry, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka.
4. Mr. Syed Ashraful Islam, Honourable Minister, Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperative Ministry, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka.
5. Mr. Rezaul Karim Hira, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Land, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka.
6. Mr. Dipankar Talukdar MP, Honourable State Minister, Ministry of CHT Affairs, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka.
7. Mr. Hasan Mahmud, Honourable State Minister, Ministry of Forest and Environment, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Secretariat, Dhaka.
8. Mr. Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, Chairman, CHT Regional Council, Rangamati.
9. Mr. Promod Mankin, Honourable State Minister, Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
10. Mohammad Shah Alam, MP and Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on CHT Affairs, Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban, Dhaka.
11. Mr. Jatindra Lal Tripura, MP and Chairman, Task Force on Rehabilitation of Returnee Refugees and IDPs, Khagrachari.
12. Mr. Bir Bahadur, MP and Chairman, CHT Development Board, Rangamati.
13. Justice Khademul Islam Chowdhury, Chairperson, CHT Land Commission.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Parallel Session In CSW Meeting, United Nations , New York

Parallel Session In CSW Meeting, United Nations , New York
Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM)
A Session on the Status of Minority Women at the United Nations,
On Friday March 6, 2009

Indigenous Women's Struggle for Justice in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh
Indigenous Jumma People’s Network USA.

For ages, the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh have been home to the indigenous Jumma peoples, who differ greatly in terms of history and culture from the majority Bengali people of the plains. From the 1950’s, the then East Pakistan government denied the rights of the indigenous peoples, building the massive Kaptai dam that submerged much of the fertile land in the region and evicted some 100,000 people. After Bangladeshi independence, the new government conducted a massive transmigration program to settle some 400,000 outsiders in the hill tracts, and placed the region under military occupation, leading to armed conflict with indigenous guerillas.

Countless killings, rapes and other human rights abuses, as well as 13 massacres forced more than 60,000 indigenous people to flee to India as refugees, and countless others to become internally displaced. Some 120,000 households are said to have thus lost their lands. Under international pressure, the Bangladesh government signed a peace accord with the indigenous political party PCJSS in 1997, resulting in repatriation of the refugees and demobilization of the guerillas. However, to this day the government has failed to keep most of its promises under the peace accord. With most problems unsolved, land grabbing, communal attacks, rape and other human rights abuses, and ethnic conflict have continued.

In this conflict of more than twenty years, it is the impoverished hill women who have been most victimized. To this day, women of all ages suffer from rape and violence, and the perpetrators are seldom brought to justice.

During the armed conflict, many indigenous women reported that they had stopped wearing their traditional dress, and some young girls had their heads shaved and dressed like boys to avoid being immediately recognised as indigenous women and thus becoming easy victims of sexual violence. Many indigenous women were raped and killed by the security forces and Bengali settlers, many disappeared and were forcibly converted to Islam and married to Bengalis. There were even cases in which the rape victims were held in jail in so-called "safe custody" while the perpetrators were allowed to roam free. For instance, on 28 June 1998, 13-year-old Kucharung Tripura was raped by three settlers at Alikadam thana, and was subsequently held in jail for 7 months, supposedly to protect her.

The most well known case of violence against indigenous hill women is the disappearance of Kalpana Chakma, Organising Secretary of the Hill Women's Federation, an indigenous women's activist group. She was abducted from her home in Rangamati district on the night of 11-12 June 1996 by a group of plainclothes army personnel, never to be seen again. After repeated protests and international pressure, the government set up an enquiry commission, which presented its report to the government in March 1997, but this report was never made public. Kalpana is assumed to have been killed, but there are no reports of punishment of those responsible.

The abduction of Kalpana Chakma got wide publicity, but the vast majority of rape cases go unreported, and are perpetrated with almost total impunity. Especially during the armed conflict in the CHT, Jumma women were extremely vulnerable to rape, gang rape, molestation and harassment. According to the Hill Women's Federation, over 94% of the rape cases of Jumma
women in the CHT between 1991 and 1993 were by 'security forces'. Over 40% of the victims were women under 18 years of age.

Even after the signing of the 1997 Peace Accord, hill women continue to live in fear. They are especially targetted in violent attacks on indigenous villages with the aim to grab land. On August 23rd, 2003, a dozen villages in Mahalchari sub-district of Khagarachari district were attacked by a mob of angry settlers. More than 400 houses were burned down, 4 Buddhist temples were destroyed, an elderly man and baby were killed, and 10 Chakma women were gang raped. The perpetrators were never arrested, and continued to live near the traumatized communities and grab land from them. And on April 3rd 2006, two 18 year old Marma women were gang raped in an attack of land-hungry Bengali settlers on 3 villages in Maischari area of Mahalchari, Khagrachari district, in which about 100 houses were destroyed and several dozen hill people were injured. The women filed a case against the perpetrators, but had to go into hiding because of threats.

In the hill tracts, the police often refuse to accept reports of rapes. The courts are also unsympathetic. Many victims have no choice but to accept paltry sums of compensation, rather than seek justice in the courts, which can be very costly and take many years. Traditional village courts are often not much better.

For example, on Nov. 26th 2007, Ms. V. Tripura, aged 15, was raped by a local Bengali settler while she was collecting firewood from a nearby field. Hearing her screams, her parents rushed to the scene, but it was too late to save their daughter. The villagers captured the culprit and brought him to the police station, but the police refused to arrest him or accept the case. So the villagers asked the local hospital to keep the culprit in custody. Next, the parents reported the incident to the local army zone commander, who gave them sweaters and blankets, and offered to help them. But the next morning, as they were about to return to the police station, the family learned that the Panchari Union Council had opened a "social justice" court, presided over by the zone commander and village elders. The court ordered the culprit to pay 5000 taka (about $100) in compensation to the victim, and to sign a paper promising he would never rape anyone again; the villagers were given permission to beat up the culprit if he ever entered the village. Such was the price tag the village elders placed on this girl's dignity.

Some hill women are exposed to rape and sexual exploitation as they try to improve their lives by working in society. Ms. U. Marma, who was supporting her younger siblings' education by working at a local NGO, Padakhep, was raped by her boss, the area manager, on February 5th 2008. He trapped her in the office after working hours with a peon keeping watch, and raped her in an unconscious state for the entire night. When her family learned of the matter, they appealed to the NGO to press charges against the manager. The NGO staff pretended to be sympathetic, but made Ms. Marma fill out various papers and run here and there for nothing. It suspended but did not fire the manager, and urged an out of court settlement, even though the manager is suspected of having exploited other women in a similar manner. Ms. Marma is now filing a case with the support of a local human rights organization.

The situation of hill women who seek employment in the garment factories, beauty parlors or other workplaces in the city is even more worrisome. Separated from their families, they are easy prey for various forms of sexual harassment and exploitation. Some are traficked into the sex industry. Their situation is still not well known, and urgently needs to be investigated.

Indigenous rape victims face immense obstacles in seeking justice. One difficulty is getting a positive result in a forensic medical test, which must given within 24 hours. This is almost impossible in remote areas, and even in the towns, the doctors often cover up evidence of rape, fearing reprisals. On April 7th, 2006, D. Marma, age 16, of Lepya village in Manikchari was raped by a Bengali settler when collecting water from a well. She was taken to Khagrachari hospital for a medical test, but the resident medical officer intentionally destroyed evidence of the rape. On April 10th 2006, R. Chakma, age 36, was forced down from a bus and raped by an army officer. She filed a general diary in Kotowali police station and sought a medical test at Rangamati hospital, but due to military interference, the test was delayed till nearly 72 hours after the incident, so the result was negative.

Despite the obstacles, the women of the hill tracts have begun to fight back for justice. Doorbar Network, a nationwide network of more than 550 women's organizations working to end violence against women, has extended a helping hand to their sisters in the hill tracts. After the two Marma women were raped during the April 2006 Maischari attack, women activists held protests in front of all 64 district government offices throughout the nation. Women activists have also lobbied the government to establish "one stop crisis centers" for rape victims in 16 major cities, and special tribunals to punish perpetrators of violence against women and children in all districts. There are now more than 40 women's organizations affiliated with Doorbar Network in the CHTs. They are helping women victimized by rape or violence to seek justice, assert their rights, and become more self-reliant. They have formed citizen's committees to combat violence against women, with the support of sympathetic lawyers, journalists, intellectuals, policemen and other government officials. Though a long journey remains ahead, the hill women are holding their heads high and fighting for their rights and justice. They certainly deserve our support and solidarity!

In order to protect the rights of the indigenous women of the CHTs, it is essential that the present government keep its election pledge to fully implement the 1997 CHT Peace Accord, which provides a framework for autonomy and protection of the land, identity and culture of the hill peoples.

In accordance with the peace accord, all illegally grabbed lands should be returned to their rightful owners, and all further land grabbing must be stopped. Furthermore, indigenous returnee refugees and internally displaced people must be rehabilitated on their original lands.

Military rule under “Operation Uttoron” must be replaced by civil administration and the rule of law to prevent any further human rights violations. In particular, Special Tribunals to Prevent Violence against Women and Children should be established in all three hill districts as required by law.

Furthermore the government should begin measures to voluntarily rehabilitate Bengali settlers in the plain districts, and should stop all further encroachments on hill people’s lands.

Finally, the present government should use its majority in the national assembly to pass a constitutional amendment to recognize the rights of indigenous peoples, and the framework for autonomy under the peace accord.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

An Appeal for Full Implementation of the CHT Peace Accord

February 13th, 2009

The Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
The People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Mr. M. Humayun Kabir
The Honorable Ambassador of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
3510 International Drive, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008

Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,

We would like to express our congratulations on the restoration of democracy through last December’s elections, and the start of the new Awami League administration in January 2009. We are most hopeful that the new administration will fulfill its commitments to secularism, rule of law and human rights for all. In particular, we would like to draw attention to your government’s pledge during the last election to fully implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord signed with Parbattya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) in 1997.

As you are aware, neither the last caretaker government nor the BNP administration of 2001-2006 took any initiative to implement this historical accord, which ended twenty-some years of insurgency in the CHTs. More than 11 years after its signing, there has been virtually no progress on the most important provisions of the accord, such as transfer of powers to local government councils, resolution of land disputes by the land commission, withdrawal of all temporary military camps, and rehabilitation of refugees and internally displaced persons. To the contrary, illegal land grabbing and violent attacks against the hill peoples by Bengali settlers have accelerated with the tacit support of the military. The security forces have continued false arrest, torture and extra-judicial killings of indigenous people, forceful expropriation of land, and religious persecution including destruction/desecration of temples. Countless indigenous girls/women are being raped with almost total impunity. The indigenous people have nearly lost hope for a peaceful future.

We call upon your Excellency to pay serious attention to these serious issues, and urge your government to fulfill its pledge to fully implement the CHT Peace Accord. Furthermore, we call upon your government to seriously consider a constitutional amendment to safeguard the peace accord’s framework for local autonomy within the sovereign state for future generations.


Buddha Ratana Bhikkhu, President, Indigenous Jumma People’s Network, USA

Endorsements for “An Appeal for Full Implementation of the CHT Peace Accord”

The IJPNUS held a meeting in Los Angeles

Dated: February 13, 2009

Dear Reverends, distinguished guests, brothers and sisters.

I feel great honor to have this opportunity to make you aware of the prevalent situation in my country, Bangladesh. I would like to thank this community and each one of you very much for giving me this privilege. My sincere thank goes to our friend Ms. Margaret Lindgren for making the necessary arrangements. I would like to share with you some of the burning problems relevant to the facilities available for the people of Bangladesh in religious activities. Further more I would like to brief you about the present crisis. My country, Bangladesh, is mostly comprised of a majority Muslim community, with only 12.00% Non-Muslim people including the inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, or CHTs for short.

In the next few minutes, I will share with you some of the wounds inflicted by the successive Governments of Bangladesh on the minority ethnic people in Bangladesh and the indigenous Jumma people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) over decades. I believe your wisdom, courage and support would heal some of our wounds.

Please allow me to present you with brief information about the violation of human rights of minority people in Bangladesh and problems of the CHTs.

The CHT is the traditional homeland to eleven distinct indigenous communities called Jumma collectively. It was an independent kingdom until the inception of Mughal rule in India in the 12th century. The British colonized it in 1860. With the emergence of two independent states – the Muslim majority Islamic state Pakistan and the non-Muslim majority secular state India – in 1947, the British colonialism came to an end in the Indian Sub-continent. Because of the undeveloped communication system and immature political leadership, the leaders of the CHTs were not able to raise their demand for self-determination with the British authorities who were planning the partition of the Sub-continent. And once the British left the Sub-continent, Pakistan occupied the CHTs against the will of the indigenous people. This is how the political status of the CHT disappeared forever and the second phase of colonialism under Pakistani rule started there. East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, got liberation from Pakistani rule in 1971.

In 1947, when Pak-India got independence from British rule, the indigenous population of CHTs was 98%. And CHT was merged with Pakistan leaving the indigenous Jumma peoples at the mercy of the Pakistan Govt. Since then, the process of elimination of indigenous peoples has been started. Presently the population of the indigenous peoples in CHT is 40% and others from plain districts of Bangladesh comprise 60%. If the present process is continued for another one-two decades, the indigenous peoples are bound to vanish or be eliminated from the map of CHT.

In the early 1960’s the Govt. of Pakistan constructed a hydro-electric dam on Karnafuli River thereby displacing around one hundred thousand indigenous Jumma peoples from their ancestral homeland without proper rehabilitation and compensation.

The CHTs delegates submitted memorandums to the Bangladesh authorities demanding provincial autonomy in the CHTs for the protection of their identity in 1972. The authorities responded to their demand militarily and subsequently moved more than 400,000 Bengali Muslim settlers from various plain districts into the hills as part of its ethnic cleansing and Bengalization policy in the region. This resulted in several genocides and other forms of violation of human rights and harassment to women, setting fire on local inhabitants villages, Buddhist temples, and churches, as well as torturing etc. of the indigenous Jumma people and displacement of hundreds of thousands of Jummas from their ancestral lands and finally an exodus of some 70,000 Jumma refugees into the Indian State of Tripura in the late1980s.

Under international criticism, the Government of Bangladesh signed a peace agreement popularly known as the “CHT peace accord” with the political organization of the indigenous Jumma people, the Shanti Bahini or Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), on December 2, 1997. The accord provides limited autonomy to the indigenous people. However, most of the fundamental points of the accord remain unimplemented till today. Such points include formation of the local Governmental bodies and effective transfer of power to them, settlement of land-disputes between Jummas and Bengali Muslim settlers, rehabilitation of the Jumma refugees and internally displaced Jummas, and withdrawal of the “temporary” military and paramilitary camps and the Bengali Muslim settlers from the CHT etc. Experience gained over the years indicates that the Government has no political commitment to implement the accord. Rather, the Government has been manipulating the whole implementation process of the accord in a way in which more Bengali Muslims are migrating into the hills and development programs are becoming increasingly Bengali Muslim-oriented. This has had a seriously negative impact on the socio-economic condition of the local indigenous people.

The Government is carrying out a systematic demographic invasion of the CHTs. As a result, the Bengali Muslim population has increased in great number (more than 60%) in the CHT.

The indigenous people are neither getting the benefits of development programs nor are they getting back their lands, which are still under the occupation of the Bengali Muslim settlers and military. Many indigenous youths are finding themselves in a difficult socio-economic situation in which they are losing their traditional ways of livelihood without any sustainable alternatives. As a result, the crime rate is increasing rapidly and the whole CHT is moving towards a serious humanitarian crisis-like situation. This is leading them to adopt anti-social professions such as, hooliganism in the streets in the case of young men and prostitution in cities in the case of young women.

Unemployment is increasing at a hitherto unknown rate. Many indigenous youths are choosing to migrate to other developed or developing countries in search of livelihood. Cases of mental disorder and suicide of youths due to lack of living conditions within the CHT have been reported. Many indigenous women are being forced to work in private and corporate sectors in cities, where they are grossly exploited economically and sexually.

Because of their distinct racial origin, language, religion and culture, the indigenous Jumma people are often subjected to wide racial discrimination in education, employment, sports, justice, land and resources, trade etc. in Bangladesh. The country’s legal system is unitary and this provides no special legal safeguards to protect the rights of the indigenous Jumma people.

How serious violations are being perpetrated against indigenous Jumma people by the Bangladesh Government’s Civil & Military authorities.

Some civil and military officials who served in Banderban Hill District have taken 1000-1500 acres of land each from Indigenous Jumma Peoples, whereas as per as law of Bangladesh each person can have only 5 (five) acres of land. Arrangement should be made to return all lands belonging to Indigenous Jumma Peoples.

More than 100 indigenous people have been arrested since January 2007, often on false arms charges. Many have been tortured and given long and unjust prison terms, and two indigenous Jummas have died in police custody. Ranglai Mro was beaten and tortured before being given a 17 year sentence. It is widely believed that he was targeted for protesting against the eviction of 750 Mro families from their lands to make way for an army training centre.

Military Atrocities,
We have learnt that the military and paramilitary of Bangladesh are actively involved in all encroachment activities in the CHTs. It is very shameful that the UN peace keepers are involved in this, such as Betchari sub-zone commander Major Qamrul Hassan (37 Bengal, 4 Bde) in Bara Merung who just returned from Africa and was posted in the CHTs after completion of his tenure with the UN Peace mission.

Religious persecutions,
Religious persecution and intolerance is high in the CHTs of Bangladesh. As you may be aware, the majority of the Indigenous Jumma people are followers of Theravada Buddhism. It has been reported that the settlement of illegal Bengali Muslims has taken place in the lands of the Buddhist temple of Sadhana Tila, Boalkhali Buddha Vihara and Orphanage under Diginala sub-district, and Arjo Kuthir at Maischari in Mahalchari sub-district under Khagrachari Hill Tracts. The government officials have ordered not to build any Buddhist temples in Mahalchari. There are persecutions and arrests of Buddhist monks and novices on false cases and charges.

In March 2007 Ruma cantonment acquired about 7,570 acres of ancestral land belonging to indigenous Jumma people for extension of its garrison and ordered more than 400 families to leave the area. In Bandarban district alone, 40,077 acres of land have been given in lease to illegal settlers while a total of 94,066 acres of land were acquired for so-called afforestation projects and 75,686 acres were acquired for establishment of military bases in the district.

In another recent case of land-grabbing, illegal settlers have reportedly taken over 59 acres of land belonging to 17 indigenous Jumma people in Kobakhali Mouza (No-51) under Dighinala police station in Khagrachari district. In an operation lasting from 1st to 15th August 2007, large groups of settlers led by former Union Parishad (UP) member Mohammed Abu Taleb of Hashinchonpur village and former UP member Mohammed Kader of Kobakhali bazaar took control of the hilly lands belonging to Chakma people with the direct assistance of the army., the paramilitary forces and the local Village Defense Party (VDP, Bengali Muslim arms group in village) members.

Illegal Settlements,
In June 2007, the military reportedly settled down at least 200 Bengali settlers families at Dhankupya village under Khagrachari district after forcibly evicting 12 indigenous families from their ancestral lands. Earlier, on 8 March 2007, an army camp was set up on the land of Prithiviraj Chakma in the same village to protect the settlers.

You may also be aware about the on-going activities of the Bangladesh military that has unleashed a reign of terror across the CHTs by carrying out extrajudicial killing, arbitrary arrests, illegal detention, lodging false cases and terrorizing the people by frequent raids, military operations, torture, threats and intimidation.

Extra-judicial Killing,
On 5 August 2007, Rasel Chakma, son of Paritosh Chakma of Dewan Para village under Naniarchar Upazila (sub-district) in Rangamati district was arrested by the security forces and killed in custody. The security forces claimed that he died of a heart attack but the body reportedly bore injury marks of torture.

Earlier, on 3 March 2007, a group of army personnel from Ghilachari camp under Naniachar Thana arrested Suresh Mohan Chakma, son of Phedera Chakma at Choichari village in Rangamati district without any warrant or reason. The victim was tortured at Ghilachari army camp in Rangamati district and he died on 7 March 2007, a day after being released.

Arrest under False Charges,
It has been observed that indigenous Jumma people have been unfairly targeted by the military that are taking advantage of the Emergency situation. Since the declaration of Emergency on 11 January 2007, at least a few hundred Jumma people have been arrested.

False charges of extortion, kidnapping, murder etc have been lodged against the arrested Jumma people. During raids, the military plants weapons and ammunitions and claims to have recovered the same from the house of the detained persons to show a ground for arrest. Most cases have been filed under Section 16 (b) of the Emergency Power Rules of 2007, which denies release on bail to the accused during the enquiry, investigation, and trial of the case. Many have been indicted by courts under the Arms Act.

Persecution of indigenous leaders,
In July 2007, Satyabir Dewan, general secretary of PCJSS; Ranglai Mro, chairman of Sualok Union Parishad and headman of Sualok Mouza, and Bikram Marma, president of Kaptai Upazila PCJSS branch were each sentenced to 17 years of jail by a court in Chittagong under the Arms Act for allegedly possessing illegal arms. Another indigenous leader, Sai Mong Marma, organizing secretary, PCJSS Kaptai upazila branch was sentenced to 10 years in jail under the Arms Act. It has been widely alleged that these leaders have been falsely implicated under the Arms Act for protesting against the injustices committed by the Bangladesh military in CHT.

This is a rough description of the problems of the indigenous Jumma people in the CHT. The real picture of the problems is worse than what I have just stated. In Buddhist philosophy, we know - reality cannot be expressed in terms of language or words. I, therefore, encourage you to come to the CHTs and observe the situation directly to understand the gravity of the problems.

We call upon concerned citizens to support our demands to the Bangladesh government:

1. To stop military atrocities and human rights abuses on indigenous people in CHTs;

2. To immediately stop illegal land grabbing and return the illegally occupied lands to their rightful owners;

3. To stop using the Bengali speaking settlers as a tool of national oppression against indigenous Jumma people and to withdraw all illegal settlers from CHTs.

4. To implement the CHT Peace Accord of 1997.

5. To appoint indigenous people in all posts under the CHT local government system.

6. To establish an international Human Rights Camp in the CHTs.

7. To provide constitutional assurances for the future safeguard of the indigenous people and non-repetition of past abuses.

Dear friends, I hope you will help the indigenous Jumma people in CHTs, Bangladesh, take this message to the Bangladesh authorities as well as to the international community through your esteemed dailies or through your letters, expressions of concern and other suitable means.

Thank you very much for your patience and kind co-operation.

May all beings be in peace and happiness!

Jumma People’s Network, UK.
Asian Centre for Human Rights.
Survival International
Amnesty International

Monday, February 2, 2009

Bangladesh: Q & A session at the UPR


The United Nations Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council is scheduled to examine Bangladesh on 3 February 2009. The government of Bangladesh has submitted its report (A/HRC/WG.6/4/BGD/1). As many as 17 stakeholders (civil society organizations), including Asian Centre for Human Rights, have contributed to the process to examine the human rights situation in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s submission does not appear to effectively reflect the human rights situation nor does it appear to correspond to the gravity of the critical human rights issues facing the country.

Since the submission of the report by the Bangladesh government, major changes have taken place in the country. For example, the National Human Rights Commission was established through an Ordinance and the Right to Information Ordinance was promulgated into law.

Most importantly, the Awami League won the national elections held on 29 December 2008 and a new government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been formed since then.

In the light of these developments, the Asia Coalition on UPR submits the following to be raised at the Working Group on UPR:

a. Elections in the CHTs Regional Councils:

The parliamentary elections held on 29 December 2008 and the forthcoming Union Parishad elections are to be welcomed.

However, no election has been held in the local bodies of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs). The CHTs Regional Council established in 1998 represents the people through unelected officials. The last elections in the Hill District Councils of Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachari were held in 1989 by then President General H M Ershad. The Hill District Councils and the Regional Council are being run by appointees of the authorities in Dhaka.

The government of Bangladesh should be asked as to when the elections in the Hill District Councils and the Regional Council will be held.

The members of the Working Group on UPR should recommend that the government of Bangladesh provide a timeline to hold elections in the Hill District Councils and the Regional Council of the CHTs.

b. Implementation of the CHTs Peace Accord

The present government of Bangladesh headed by Awami League signed the CHTs Peace Accord in December 1997.

Since that time the CHTs Accord has not been implemented. The army camps have not been withdrawn as required under Section 17 (a) of Part D of the Peace Accord and the CHT Land Commission established under Section 4 of Part D of the Peace Accord does not operate and not a single case of land dispute has been resolved.

A total of 9,780 families out of total 12,222 Jumma families who returned from India following the CHT Peace Accord have not got back their land or housing. . In May 2000, Task Force Committee identified 90,208 Jumma families and 38,156 non-tribal Bengali settler families as “internally displaced families” in CHTs[1]. In addition, there were some 10,000 tribal IDP families who were left out by the Task Force. By including the non-tribal IDPs, the government sought to legitimize the settlement of the Muslims from the plains in the CHTs.

While the Jumma IDPs were not provided any rehabilitation or food aid, educational facilities, health care services, sanitation and safe drinking water etc, illegal settler families have been provided free rations and other facilities by the government since 1978.[2]

On the other hand, indigenous peoples and their lands continue to be targeted. In 2008, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people sent a joint communication calling the attention of the Government to the alleged illegal seizure of the traditional lands of indigenous communities in the CHT and systematic campaign to support the settlement of non-indigenous families in the CHTs with the active support of the security forces, with the ultimate aim of displacing the indigenous community.[3]

The government of Bangladesh should be questioned as to what measures it will take to fully implement the Peace Accord especially withdrawal of the army camps, functioning of the CHTs Land Commission and addressing the issues raised by the Special Rapporteur. The government of Bangladesh should be recommended to specify the measures to ensure full and proper rehabilitation of all the returnee indigenous Jumma refugees and indigenous IDPs.

c. Return of ‘Enemy’ Property

In 2000 the Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance, after receiving information about appropriation of property under Vested Property Act, recommended the government of Bangladesh to ensure the full restoration of the property of the Hindu community and the Hurukh/Oroan tribes.[4]

The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) in its UPR submission reported that Hindu minorities continued to be targeted and their religious freedoms violated. It is reported that some 1.2 million or 44 per cent of the 2.7 million Hindu households in Bangladesh were affected by the Enemy Property Act, 1965 and the Vested Property Act, 1974 which is empowered to identify the Hindus as enemies of the State and seize their properties.[5] According to an estimate, approximately 2.5 million acres of land owned by Hindus was seized under the Vested Property Act until the adoption of the Enemy Properties Return Act 2001.[6]

The current government of Bangladesh led by Awami League was in power when parliament adopted the Enemy Properties Return Act 2001 with a view to restoring ownership of the lost land to the Hindu families. However the Act remains un-implemented. According to a recent study by Abul Barkat, professor of economics at Dhaka University, nearly 200,000 Hindu families have lost over 40,000 acres of land since 2001.[7]

The government of Bangladesh should outline as to what measures it will take to implement the Enemy Properties Return Act 2001.

d. Human Rights Defenders:

Delhi-based Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network (AITPN) expressed concerns about the persecution of the indigenous human rights defenders in Bangladesh. The government has been seeking to establish an Eco-Park in the Modhupur forest area under Tangail district at the cost of displacement and survival of about 25,000 indigenous Garo and Koch peoples.

On 27 April 2007, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people jointly with the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture asked the government of Bangladesh to investigate the killing of Choles Ritchil and the ill-treatment of Protab Jamble, Piren Simsang and Tuhin Hadima, and prosecute the guilty as well as to compensate the victims and Mr. Ritchil’s family.

In its reply submitted on 11 October 2007, the government of Bangladesh stated that a one-member Judicial Investigation Commission headed by a retired District Judge has been set up to investigate the killing of Cholesh Ritchil. Four persons belonging to Armed Forces were awarded punishments, which included removal from service and exclusion from promotion. Finally, a number of other individuals, including public officials, doctors and forest officials, had also been subject to criminal proceedings.

The government of Bangladesh should be asked to make public the report of the Judicial Investigation Commission into the killing of Cholesh Ritchil and the action taken report including details of punishments awarded to the guilty along with the names and designation of the persons facing criminal proceedings.

e. Accountability for extrajudicial executions

The stakeholders’ summary (A/HRC/WG.6/4/BGD/3) underlines that the security forces of Bangladesh have been responsible for systematic and widespread “extrajudicial executions”, arrest and routine use of torture with impunity.

AITPN noted that the continued presence and expansion of military bases is contributing to ongoing human rights violations including extrajudicial killings in the Chitagong Hill Tracts (CHT).[8] According to human rights group Odhikar, a total of 319 persons have been killed by the law enforcement personnel during the first 23 months of the State of Emergency (11 January 2007 to 11 December 2008). Of them, 155 persons were killed by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and 118 by the police.[9]

The government of Bangladesh should be asked what measures are being taken to establish accountability into the killings by Rapid Action Battalion, the police and other security forces.

f. National Human Rights Commission

The care-taker government of Bangladesh should be congratulated for the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission and appointment of the members.

The government of Bangladesh should be asked what measures will be taken to enact a law including guarantees for inclusion of religious minorities and indigenous/tribal peoples as members of the NHRC.

g. Right to Information Ordinance

On 20 September 2008, the Caretaker government approved the Right to Information Ordinance, 2008 and it came into effect on 20 October 2008 with the publication in the official Bangladesh Gazette.

The Working Group on UPR should ask the government to pass the Right to Information Ordinance in the Parliament and to provide further information about the establishment of the Information Commission provided for under the Right to Information (RTI) Ordinance, 2008 to implement the RTI Ordinance.

h. Cooperation with United Nations human rights mechanisms

The government of Bangladesh has failed to comply with its treaty reporting obligation to submit periodic reports to treaty bodies. Bangladesh’s twelfth to fourteenth report to the CERD is overdue from 2002 to 2006; initial and second report to CESCR is overdue from 2000 to 2005; initial report to HR Committee is overdue since 2001; first to third reports to CAT is overdue since 1999 to 2007; Second report to OP-CRC-AC is overdue since 2007.[10]

Bangladesh has also failed to ratify a number of key international human rights instruments including the International Labour Organization Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in independent countries.

The government of Bangladesh should be asked to submit its pending periodic reports to the treaty bodies and to ratify the ILO Convention No. 169 and other international human rights instruments which it has not yet ratified.
[1]. Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti, Bangladesh
[2]. Asian Centre for Human Rights – South Asia Human Rights Index 2008, Bangladesh Chapter
[3]. Para 39, A/HRC/WG.6/4/BGD/2
[4]. Para 40, A/HRC/WG.6/4/BGD/2
[5]. Para 48, A/HRC/WG.6/4/BGD/3
[6]. Religious minorities vulnerable in Bangladesh: US, Hindu Janajagruti Samity, 17 September 2007,
[7]. Bangladeshi Hindus loose property: study, Economic Times, 26 May 2007
[8]. Para 20, A/HRC/WG.6/4/BGD/3
[9]. 23 Months of State of Emergency in Bangladesh, Odhikar, 12 December 2008 available at
[10]. A/HRC/WG.6/4/BGD/2