Human Rights Abuses in Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh

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In the mid of this July the government of Bangladesh started setting up a new army camp over indigenous lands. To build the camp a group of army led by Subedar Major Md. Rafique housed themselves in the Talukdar Para Junior High School on 16 June 2004 resulting in the closure of the school.

The army have been harassing innocent local indigenous people since they took over the school. On 18 June 2004, the army arrested an indigenous people Mr. Letto Chakma when he went to collect blackberry from his own garden near the school. On 19 July 2004, the army seized 1,400 bamboos and nearly 50 feet timber from indigenous people while they were taking them for selling in market:

On 25 July 2004 the villagers organized a protest rally in Rangamati town protesting the establishment of the camp and forcible confiscation of indigenous land by the army. They submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh through the Deputy Commissioner of
Rangamati hill district demanding immediate stop of the camp.
Circulated by Information and Publicity Department of PCJSS from Kalyanpur, Rangamati-4500, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh on 1 August 2004 Tel: +880-351-61248,

Mangal Kumar Chakma
Secretary for Information and Publicity
Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS)
Central Office
Kalyanpur, Rangamati-4500
Chittagong Hill Tracts
Tel: +880-351-61248

Urgent Action
An innocent Jumma student killed
by the Bangladesh military forces

An innocent Jumma student named Mr. Anupam Chakma (18) s/o Amar Sing Chakma of Char Para under Matiranga sub-district in Khagrachari district was killed by the army of Matiranga zone. On 23 August 2004 around 5.30 the army from Matiranga zone arrested Anupam Chakma from Matiranga bazar under Khagrachari district while he was going to their farmland located at Bengmara of no. 10 Alutila area from his home. Soon after the arrest, the relatives of Anupam Chakma including his father Mr. Amar Sing Chakma (a returnee PCJSS member and General Secretary of Matiranga branch of PCJSS) tried to communicate with the authority of Matiranga army zone but they failed. They were returned from the outpost of the Matiranga zone. Next day (24 August) they (relatives of Anupam) again contacted with Matiranga zone and they were asked to communicate with Khagrachari zone. Mr. Raktolpal Tripura, central member of PCJSS contacted with Commander of Khagrachari army zone over telephone.

The PCJSS appeals to the national and international humanitarian community to write to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and send a copy thereof to the Home Minister of Bangladesh and the Deputy Minister for the CHT Affairs, Bangladesh asking for the following redress:

(1) Conduct judicial inquiry into the killing;

(2) Take necessary, speedy and statutory action against the military personnel involved with this killing;

(3) Withdraw de facto military rule 'Operation Uttaran' and all temporary camps of army, Ansar, APB and VDP from CHT as per CHT Accord of 1997.

1. Begum Khaleda Zia,
Honorable Prime Minister,
Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Office of the Prime Minister
Old Airport Road, Tejgaon
Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
Fax: + 880-2-811 3244, 811 3243

2. Mr. Lufarujjaman Babar, Honorable State Minister
Ministry of Home Affairs
Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
Bangladesh Secretariat
Building 4
Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
Fax: +880-2-8614788

 3. Mr. Mani Swapan Dewan, Honorable Deputy Minister,
Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs,
Building No. 4, 6th Floor, Bangladesh Secretariat,
Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
Tel: + 880-2-861 3214
Fax: + 880-2-956 5300

BDR raided Jumma village in Barkal
In other two separate incidents, Bangladesh security forces tortured at least 10 indigenous people and arrested two on false charges.
The first incident took place on 14 July 2004 at around 3:00 a.m. when a group of army and BDR personnel led by zone commander Md. Mirza Anwar Reza of the 34th Rifle Battalion from Barkal sadar zone and Nasirul Islam from Jagannathchara BDR camp raided the house of Mr. Monghla Ching Marma built temporarily to guard the logs collected from his garden and arrested him along with a Mahut (caretaker of elephants) came to him with an elephant to extract his logs and other eight persons from his neighborhood.

Monghla Ching Marma and the Mahut were taken to the Jagannathchara BDR camp and tortured there till 1:00 pm. In the evening the victims were handed over to the Barkal police station. The police registered a case against them on false charge of keeping illegal arms with them. The accused were sent to jail without any trial.  The other eight were tortured and released later.

Local people of Barkal organized a protest
rally at Barkal sadar demanding immediate release of the innocent indigenous people.

On 3 August 2004 the Bengali settlers from Kalabanya of Aimachara union under Bakal sub-district killed a Jumma couple of Dhandachara village of Bhushanchara union under Barkal sub-district in Rangamati district. At around 11 p.m. the Bengali settlers led by Shuhidul (30), Ibrahim (37), Imdad (37) and UP member Tamir Ali attacked Mr. Barun Kumar Chakma (33) s/o late Dina Mohan Chakma and his family members with sharp falchion and spear. Mr. Baru Kumar Chakma was killed and his wife Ms. Subarna Chakma (28) and 11-months old child named Kampan Chakma were seriously injured. On August 4th around 11 a.m. Ms. Subarna Chakma and her child were admitted at Rangamati sadar hospital with serious injuries. But after 4 hours of admission to the hospital, Ms. Subarna died and Kampan Chakma was sent to Chittagong Medical College hospital. Ms. Subarna Chakma had injuries on her head, throat, back, leg and hands. Kampan Chakma, the child, received serious injuries to his right leg. Soon after the incident at mid-night the villagers informed the nearest Bumpy Land BDR camp. But no measures were taken by the BDR. It is mentionable that Dina Mohan Chakma, father of killed Barun Kumar Chakma was also killed by the Bengali settlers during the massacre of 1984 that was committed by settlers.

Action required:
More than 100 indigenous leaders and human rights activists attending the 22nd Session of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations recently in Geneva sent an appeal to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh urging her for implementation of the CHT Accord.

The government of Bangladesh should immediately withdraw all the “temporary military and paramilitary camps” from the CHT region in compliance with the Part D, Article 17 (a) of the CHT Accord, and stop human rights abuses and crimes including military rule

It may be noted that Bangladesh security forces in league with Bengali Muslim settlers committed terrible human rights abuses against the indigenous peoples with complete impunity in recent times. Of them, the Mahalchari massacre of 26 August 2003 in which two indigenous people including an eight month-old baby were killed, nine indigenous women were gang raped and three of them were abducted, more than 50 indigenous people including peace-loving Buddhist monks were wounded, nearly 400 houses including three Buddhist temples of the 14 indigenous villages were burnt down; and arbitrary arrest, detention and brutal torturing of 17 indigenous political and student activists on 25 May 2004 and putting them behind the bar on false charges are worth mentioning.

International community, UN Commission for Human Rights, donor countries and international human rights groups should strongly influence the government of Bangladesh:
1)      To stop human rights abuses in the CHT and punish the members of Bangladesh security forces and Muslim Bengali settlers involved in those human rights abuses;
2)      To withdraw all temporary camps of army, Ansar, ABP and VDP in accordance with CHT Accord; and
3)      To implement the CHT Accord in letter and spirits.