Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bleeding and burning in CHT including Church & Temple: Government failed to protect Indigenous people

By Jahangir Alam Akash, Just now Indigenous-Tribal communities have been cleaning by the government and Bangalee people who were taken shelter in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). It was totally illegal. The local people think that, only for that the present problem has arisen. Most important Land Commission for CHT hasn’t functioned yet. Though, it was put inside of the peace treaty. And it is a very burning and demanding issue from the Indigenous people of CHT. Hundreds houses including Buddhist temple and church were burnt. Bangalee settler and army men together attacked on Indigenous people. At a stage the Indigenous people were starting fought with them.
The government has totally failed to protect the houses and lives of Indigenous of CHT. Not only that, within 12 years the government couldn’t fulfill the peace treaty. At the present time the CHT has been bleeding and burning. There is a horrible situation going on. The Indigenous people are living inhuman condition. After set fire they don’t have food and housings. On the other hand, torturing, burning, killings and mass arresting have been going on the Indigenous people. The local Indigenous people are panic and threatening by Curfew. On 23rd February curfew was imposed there.
According to the unheard voice, on 19-20 February 2010 massive communal attack on Jumma villages was made by military forces and Bengali settlers at Baghaihat area of Sajek union under Baghaichari upazila in Rangamati district. It is reported that at 8 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 Buddhist temple and church were completely burnt into ashes.
Various sources told, the Bangalee settlers tried to make a house on the land of Indigenous people on 19th February, 2010 at afternoon. Then the Indigenous people protested against making house by Bangalee. The Bangalee were making their house with the helped of Army. It was at Gangaram area. In the night again the Bangalee people were started set fire on the houses of Indigenous people under Jumma village. Again the Bangalee people were attacked on Indigenous at morning on 2oth February. In that morning Indigenous people were gathered to protest against attack on them. Then the armies were started fired on the Indigenous people.
After that the agitations were spread out to the other areas of CHT. The violence’s turned towards Khagrachori. Then administration imposed section144 at 2.00pm of 23rd February, 2010. But the violence was spreading rapidly to other areas of CHT. Government was taken a decision to imposed curfew on 23rd February.
According to the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), about 100 indigenous tribal peoples including 40 from Khabhampujjya area under Khagrachari district were arrested early this morning on the eve of the visit of Home State Minister.
But, according to the English newspaper the daily Star (24-2-2010), Joint forces members during the overnight 10-hour curfew arrested 70 people, including 42 indigenous and 28 Bangalee settlers, from Khagrachhari district town and its adjacent areas. On 23rd February another killed as identified Anwar, son of Rawshan Ali. Twenty vehicles were also vandalized during the violence in the district headquarters. A number of journalists, including Talat Mamun (NTV), were among the injured. Bangalee settlers allegedly broke the cameras of Channel I and Desh TV when camera crew Dilip Chowdhury and Mongsapru Marma were filming the violance.
Exactly, how many Indigenous were killed in six days long violence yet not clear. But, the villagers told, at least six were killed. The killed are Buddha Pudi Chakma, 30, Laxmi Bijoy Chakma, 30, Banashanti Chakma, 23Liton Chakma, 34, Debendra Chakma, 43 and Notunjoy Chakma, 28. The seriously injured indigenous persons are Prem Lal Chakma (26), Dari Chakma (40), Sushil Jibon Chakma (32), Shanta Shil Chakma, Mrittunjoy Chakma, Amar Jiban Chakma (30), Nibesh Chakma (35), Jitendra Chakma (35). On the other hand, Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) claimed that at least eight indigenous people were killed and other 25 were seriously wounded.
A Background history of CHT violence was written by unheard voice. They wrote, Bangladesh military forces undertook plan to settle down the infiltrated Bengali families along the roadsides of Sajek road from Baghaichari to Gangaram Mukh in 2005. It is also mentionable that thousands of indigenous Jumma families have been living in this area for decades long. Hence, Jumma villagers of these areas have been protesting against this illegal settlement programme. Despites the protesting, in 2008 Bengali settlers illegally constructed some houses at Gangaram area on the land owned by Jumma villagers. At a stage on 20 April 2008 the Bengali settlers with the direct support of army of Baghaihat zone attacked on the 7 villages of indigenous Jumma peoples and at least 76 houses of indigenous villagers were completely burnt to ashes. Again, since starting of January 2010, Bengali settlers with the support of Baghaihat army zone resumed expansion of their settlement in Sajek area under Baghaichari upazila in Rangamati district. A number of houses have already been erected by the Bengali settlers occupying Jumma villagers’ land. The villagers, under the banner of Sajek Bhumi Rakkha Committee, submitted a memorandum to the Baghaichhari UNO 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, Jumma villagers started their agitation and started to boycott Baghaihat market from 18 January 2010. On the other, on 25 January 2010 the PCJSS sent a letter to the Home Minister with copy to State Minister of CHT Affairs Ministry and other concerned government authorities demanding to stop settlement prgramme and to withdraw Bengali settlers from Baghaihat area. However, government did not take any measure in this regard.
According to the New Age (23-2-2010), at least 1,500 ethnic minority people of 300 families in nine villages were displaced after their houses were burnt down allegedly by Bengali settlers.
Here mentioned that, former Awami League government singed the CHT peace treaty in 1997 to establish peace in CHT. But, the treaty wasn’t fulfill yet as fully. We know very well that, justice delayed and justice denied is a common true in Bangladesh. The people of Bangladesh could never saw justice especially those who are oppressed they have waiting to see real justice. Indigenous-Christian leader Choles Richil, Alfred Soren were murdered. But, yet not finish trial against killers.
Most of the national and international human rights and different socio-cultural and political organizations demanded to find out the root cause of the violence. They also demanded to judicial enquiry of the violence. But we don’t want to say like them. We want to say Bangladesh should practice of rule of law, good governance and democratic practice especially in politics and governing. Then, the oppressed community would get justice automatically.

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Jahangir Alam Akash-Editor of Euro Bangla


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Jahangir Alam Akash Editor Euro Bangla