February 13th, 2009
The Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina
The People’s Republic of 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”