5,448 victims in 107 incidents of human rights violations: JSS Human Rights Report

0
1793

Hill Voice, 1 July 2024, Special Correspondent: From January to June of 2024, in the CHT, 107 incidents of human rights violation have been perpetrated by the Bangladesh security forces and law & order forces, army-aided terrorist armed elements, Muslim Bengali settlers and land grabbers, wherein, at least 5,448 Jumma people including 5,000 men and women of Bawm people fell prey to those incidents of human rights violation.

This information is mentioned in the half-yearly (January-June 2024) report on the human rights situation in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) signed by the Assistant Information and Publicity Secretary of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) on Monday (1st July).

The report said that the human rights situation in CHT has become more fragile due to non-implementation of the CHT Accord. In particular, the government has not come forward to implement the decision taken in the meeting of the CHT Accord Implementation and Monitoring Committee. As a result, the situation is deteriorating day by day, it is mentioned in this half-yearly human rights report.

Below is the PCJSS’ half-yearly (January-June 2024) report on human rights situation in the CHT—

Half-Yearly (January-June 2024) Report on Human Rights Situation of CHT

The 9th meeting of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord Implementation and Monitoring Committee was held in the premises of Parliament House on 30 April 2024. In the meeting, for once again, it came up with evidential proof that the government did not undertake any initiative towards implementation of the decisions adopted in the earlier meetings of the CHT Accord Implementation and Monitoring Committee. It is in this way the government has been turning the CHT Accord Implementation and Monitoring Committee to mere an institution of nomenclature. Needless to say that it is the CHT Accord Implementation and Monitoring Committee, the only entity recognized and acceptable to both the parties that the decisions and recommendations of the committee are mandatory to both the signatories of the Bangladesh Government and Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) in dealing with implementation of the Accord, which was signed without involvement of the third party. whereas, the Bangladesh government has kept showing utter disregard to that obligation.

Due to non-implementation of the Accord as of this day, the situation of CHT as a whole, has degraded to a highly sensitive state and become prone to explosion. The Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League government, the counter-part signatory of the Accord, as though being in the power for almost 16 consecutive years, has not paced forward with the implementation process of the Accord. What counts most is that at present, the government has put the implementation process to a total halt. In addition, the government has opted for persuading the policy of wide-scale militarization through oppressive and suppressive measures like-wise the preceding dictatorial rulers, as the solution to the CHT crisis.

While at the same time, in a bid to conceal its failure in implementing the Accord and the conspiracy of turning the Non-Muslim-inhabited CHT into a Muslim-dominated region, the government is now strongly spreading the imaginary tale of ‘attempting to establish a Christian State’ combining CHT and its adjoining regions, with a view to harvesting a mean objective. Initially, as though certain military and civilian quarters have been going mad with the ill propagation, very recently, the matter has also embraced even the Prime Minister.

In the place of bringing amendment in consonance with the Accord, the intense conspiracy also includes the ill-efforts of having the CHT Regulation 1900 declared as to be a ‘dead’ or ‘cancelled’ or ‘ineffective’ law, which is entwined in the fabric of historical, traditional, conventional and special rights of the indigenous Jumma people of the CHT. The gravity of conspiracy has now reached at an alarming state since the Attorney General of the government, himself, has sided by the conspirators who filed a Review Petition against the High Court verdict pronounced on their earlier two cases filed with the High Court. If the 27 clauses get nulled as per the Review Petition, it is not only the CHT Regulation 1900 alone, but also the CHT Accord and the laws framed in its consonance, such as, the CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Act 2001, the three Hill District Council Act, the CHT Regional Council Act and the Regulations thereof will be affected and what will be more affected is the sets of land rights and social practices and convention of the Jumma people.

On the last 23 April 2024, the court of Senior Magistrate of Rangamati headed by Magistrate Fatema Begum Mukta, dismissed the case of abducted Kalpana Chakma for finding out the whereabouts of her and arresting the person involved in abduction and bringing them to trial and compensation to the victim’s family. After running the case for 28 years, the dismissal order of Kalpana Chakma’s Abduction Case in the lower court, has, however, given impunity to the administration from its responsibility of unearthing whereabouts and details of the kidnappers of Kalpana Chakma from their crime in one hand, while it has seriously trampled down the human rights of the victim and her family the move of which has established an extreme illustration of lacking of judicial justice, on the other.

It is by merit of the ‘Operation Uttoran’ (Operation Upliftment), the events that have become routine happenings in the day-to-day life of the CHT Jumma people are: conducting mid-night military actions upon the Jumma people; searching houses and vandalizing the house-hold articles; taking arrest by planting weapons; lebeling to be armed-holding terrorists and killing them in cold head in the name of much-practiced crossfire; sending to jail by entangling them in false cases and meting out inhuman beating without justification, etc. As a result, the CHT has got turned into a ‘torture cell’ inside a widened cantonment.

It is relevant to mention that intending to obstruct the implementation process of the Accord and to incite against the on-going movement of the Jumma people, in continuation to creating of one after another armed terrorist elements by the army, the last creation of the group is the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF) widely known as ‘Bawm Party’ which has been organized with only the astray-gone youths from among the Bawm community. It may be recalled that at certain time, while the information of providing shelter and military training to the Islamic militants in the army-generated KNF camp got leaked, the army that’s the government had to take up military actions against the KNF under international pressure.

Following the incidents of Bank robbery and looting of 14 arms from the law and order forces by KNF in Ruma and Thanchi Upazila on 2 and 3 April 2024, the army-led joint forces, in the pretext of military action against the KNF, have been conducting atrocities upon the innocent Bawm villagers picking up women, pregnant women, children; meting out physical torture, making arrest and sending to jail; and killing in cold head by lebeling KNF tag. 12 innocent Bawm people including 1 child have been killed so far while making arrest of 111 persons including pregnant women and children belonging to Bawm community (including few Tripura people) since 7 April to till date. Consequently, approximately 5,000 Bawm villagers of at least 1,000 families of 47 villages fled to other places leaving their villages for fear of persecution while 192 Bawm villagers along with families had to take refuge in two phases in the neighboring country. With this, the number of Bawm refugees have gone up to 1,433 up till now as per the Mizoram official record up till now, but according to the non-government account, the number of refugees will be more than 2000.

Centering the construction of Border Road and link-roads, the Bangladesh army and Border Guard Bangladesh while ignoring the local names, have installed signboards naming after Muslim persons at various spots in the dwelling lands of the indigenous Jumma people. Some of the instances of the kind are: the place named ‘Bhija Hijing’ in Sarboatali under Baghaichari Upazila, has been renamed as ‘Shaheen Tilla’; one place in ’Kinkar Para’ area has been renamed ‘Mahmud Tilla’; another place Durbachara in Sajek has been renamed ‘Enamul Tilla’; the place Bottala in Sajek area has been renamed ‘’Sajib Tilla’; another one place in Kinkar Para area under Sajek has been renamed ‘Shamim Tilla’; the place Bhuiochara has been renamed ‘Saidur Tilla’; yet another one place of Kinkar Para in Sajek area has been renamed ‘Ismail Tilla’ (BOP Post); and yet another one place of Bhuiochara under Sajek area has been renamed ‘Al-Amin Tilla.’ It is obviously, a motivated attempt on the part of the army and BGB, to expand cultural aggression and aimed at illegal land occupation and evict the local Jumma people from their ancestral lands.

From January to June of 2024, in the CHT, 107 incidents of human rights violation have been perpetrated by the Bangladesh security forces and law & order forces, army-aided terrorist armed elements, Muslim Bengali settlers and land grabbers, wherein, at least 5,448 Jumma people including 5,000 men and women of Bawm people fell prey to those incidents of human rights violation. Besides, 1,284 families including at least 1,000 Bawm families and 76 villages including 47 Bawm families directly fell prey to the violations. On the other end, 1,806 acres of lands have been illegally occupied by the settlers and influential individuals and NGOs coming from outside of the CHT.

With regard to their nature, the incidents of human rights violations may be categorized as follows:

Suppression and oppression of administration and security forces

From among the 107 incidents that occurred from January to June 2024, 73 incidents were perpetrated by the security forces and law & order forces in which 5,394 people including 5,000 Bawm people, 1,284 families including at least 1,000 Bawm families and inhabitants of 67 villages including 47 Bawm villages fell victim to those human rights violations. Of them, 12 Bawm people killed, 117 taken arrested, 12 put under detention, 16 entangled in falsehood cases, damages caused to 42 families who were prevented from cultivation of Jum and grove plantation, damages caused to 242 families by border-link roads and families of 20 villages issued order to submit family information with photographs. Some of the illustrations of mention-worthy incidents are cited below:

Between 4 and 7 January 2024, an army patrolling troop commanded by Captain Md. Shafiq and one Subedar from Subalong army camp located nearby Badalchari Janakalyan Buddhist temple in Balukhali Union of Rangamati Sadar Upazila during which they caused utter irreverence and profanity towards Buddhist religion. They intentionally gave ‘Azaan’ daily with the sound system of the temple while they defacated and urinated in open air close to the temple causing contamination to the surrounding environment.

On 5 March 2024, two innocent Jumma people named Natun Babu Tanchangra (40) and Kajal Babu Tanchangya (38) became victims of severe beating by the Camp Commander of Tangkoitaung Army Camp under 32 BIR Bilaichari Army Zone stationed under No.8 Tangkoitaung Ward of Farua Union under Bilaichari Upazila.

The Border Road and Border-Link roads are being constructed in the CHT by the army in a manner involving eviction of indigenous Jumma villages, destroying groves, preventing from Jum cultivation and from building houses nearby areas of the roads. The latest illustration of the kind is the hatching of conspiracy to evict 23 families and imposing prevention from Jum cultivation upon 17 families– both of which happened to the two villages namely Gachbagan Para and Thum Para located at the boundary lands of Jurachari and Bilaichari Upazila under Rangamati Hill District along the Rajasthali-Bilaichari-Jurachari link road – the move conducted in March 2024 by the 26 ECB under 34 ECB of Bangladesh Army engaged in construction of the Border Road and link roads. It is learnt that the army have taken the said initiative to establish a Tourism Center over there.

In the context of the movement of 222 families for demand of compensation to substantiate the loss and damage caused to them through construction of Border Link Road by the army in Baghaichari, despite repeated assurance, one Major-ranking officer has recently made it known that no compensation thereof will be given to the affected families. On 21 February 2024, the Project Officer of the said Border Connectivity Road Project Major Md. Shamim Sarkar (BA-10069) called 3 representatives from the affected families and local Union Council member to the camp and conveyed the decision of paying no compensation to the affected families.

On 4 May 2024, 3 innocent students of Hill Students Council, Rupan Chakma (25), Suren Chakma (24) and Roni Chakma (20) were held by an army person of Jakkha Bazaar Army Camp stationed at Jurachari Sadar Upazila and they were fell victim to detention. They were pocketed intoxicating tablets called ‘Yaba’ and extortion receipts to get entangled in a projected case and then they were sent to the jail.

On 24 May 2024, the Warrant Officer Javed issued an order to the villagers of Dhupshil, Shaalbagan, Latapahar and Dhupshil Moddhyopara villages instructing them to deposit the name-list of their families and photographs to the camp.

On 1 June 2024, the Bangladesh Army stationed at Moidung Union of Jurachari Upazila under Rangamati Hill District had undertaken an initiative to construct a Helipad in the Jum-cultivated land of a Jumma villager named Indra Mohan Chakma (55) which will destroy the paddy crops.

On 4 June 2024, during patrolling duty by the army being conducted in Moidung Union of Jurachari Upazila under Rangamati Hill District, one innocent villager named Ritu Chakma was held; the villagers were threatened of brush firing and the villagers’ food stuff were snatched away without paying.

Activities of Army-aided armed terrorists

From among the 107 incidents that occurred from January to June of this year, 26 incidents were perpetrated by the army-created armed terrorists in which 38 people and inhabitants of 9 villages were victimized in human rights violations. The incidents of human rights violations were marked with the occurrences, such as, kidnapping, collection of ransom, beating, killing, sustained bullet injuries, massive searching, threatening of killing, snatching of cattle and poultry, seizing cell phone and demanding money, extortion, etc. Some of the worth-mentioning incidents are cited as examples herein below:

On 11 January 2024, an innocent villager of Raikhali Union under Kaptai Upazila named Bimal Tanchangra (42) was kidnapped by the army-aided armed terrorist element called ‘Mog Party’.

On 7 February 2024, 2 indigenous Marma villagers of Paindu Union under Ruma Upazila of Bandarban Hill District were severely beaten up by the army-aided KNF known as ‘Bawm Party’ while 6 others were kept as hostages to be released on payment of ransom.

On 13 February 2024, one innocent villager belonging to Marma community sustained serious bullet injury shot by the army-created KNF terrorists. The terrorists snatched away Taka 50,000/- from another Marma person of Ruma Sadar Union under Ruma Upazila.

On 15 February 2024, 4 Marma villagers were beaten up on their way back to homes after taking part in a rally and human chain formation event held against the KNF activities at Ruma Sadar Upazila town.

On 18 February 2024, the KNF terrorists blocked a passenger vehicle on the road and beaten up at least 8 persons while on their way for work.

On 3 March 2024, the armed terrorists known as ‘Reformist Group’ called a public meeting in Longadu Upazila of Rangamati Hill District and forcibly extorted money from the local Jumma people.

On 4 March 2024, a 22-member armed terrorist element led by Uttoran Chakma belonging to UPDF (Democratic) and Reformist Group staged an armed patrolling aboard in 2 Jet Boats from Subalong Bazar upto Harina Bazar of Barkal BGB Zone with the support of army and DGFI, the intelligence forces of the army.

On 15 March 2024, the army-aided UPDF (Democratic) terrorists looted approximately 8 maunds of dried turmeric from a Jumma villager at Bilaichari Sadar Upazila of Rangamati Hill District.

On 2 and 3 April 2024, as mentioned earlier, the army-created KNF terrorists attacked Sonali Bank at Ruma Sadar and other branches of Sonali Bank and Krishi Bank at Thanchi Upazilla and looted an amount of several lakh taka and 14 arms with 415 rounds ammunition from the security guards.

On 6 April 2024, one Tripura youth was beaten up at the hands of army-aided UPDF, the Anti-Accord element in Sajek Union under Baghaichari Upazila.

On 21 May 2024, Athomong Marma, Chairman of Borthali Union Parishad of Bilaichari Upazila sustained critical bullet injuries shot by the Awami League miscreants and died on 30 May while being under medical treatment in Chittagong.

Illegal Land Occupation, Eviction and Communal Attack

Of the 107 occurrences that took place from January to June of this year, 4 incidents were caused by the communal and fundamental groups, Muslim Bengali settlers and land grabbers and in these occurrences, 7 Jumma people fell prey to human rights violations and a total of 1,806 acres of lands went under illegal occupation. Some of the worth mentioning examples are as follows:

On 13 January 2024, with assistance of locally stationed army in Jurachari Upazila Sadar area, an attempt to occupy lands from a Jumma villager was strived by a group of Muslim settlers. From among the men and women protesting against the forcible land occupation attempt, 5 persons were picked up and taken to the camp by a group of army under Captain Mosharaf’s command and they were mercilessly beaten up there.

On 7 February 2024, a gang of Muslim settlers led by one Md. Monir Hossain attempted to occupy some 2.00 acres of recorded paddy lands of Gyana Ranjan Talukder, member of Ward No.4 – the lands located on the west of Raingkhyong Bana Bihara under Kengrachhari Union of Bilaichari Upazila. In this incident, the settlers tried to plant paddy plants in the land.

Right now, with fake Certificate and documents including the signature of the Headman by forgery method, an illegal means for occupation of lands measuring 1,700 acres is being attempted by one outsider organization named CDTO-CRCCII-CCECC-ERECBL CONSORTIUM in the name of installation of Solar electric Plant at No. 217 Jarulchari Mouza.

On 14 March 2024 one Jikon Chakma (26), a motorcycle driver who rented the ride was killed by the Muslim Bengali settlers in Bogachari area of Naniarchar Upazila.

On 17 May 2024, 2 indigenous youths were kidnapped at gun-point by the terrorists of Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) from the Naf Riverside in Hoaikhyong Model Union of Teknaf Upazila under Cox’s Bazaar District. Nothing has been heard about their fate as of the moment of writing this report.

The Forest Department has undertaken an initiative for social forestation in the hilly lands of Sonaichari area of No. 289 Chowkhyang Mouza under No.2 Chowkhyang Union of Alikadam Upazila while brushing off the objection raised by the local inhabitants.

Hundred acres of lands are lying in the names of former Inspector general of Police (IGP) Benzir Ahmed, his wife and daughter are lying in Duluchari of Lama and Sualok of Bandarban Hill District. Once there were helpless and poor families in these lands who were forced by hook and crook to sell their lands at nominal prices.

Sexual harassment, violence, rape and killing

Of the 107 incidents that took place from January to June of this year, 4 incidents of violence against Jumma women and girls perpetrated by state and non-state actors and 9 women became victims of human rights violations. Of them the significant ones are cited below as examples:

On 10 January 2024, one Bengali settler youth named Mohammad Babu abducted one Tripura girl student studying in class-VIII in Birendra Kishore High School.

On 14 March 2024, 6 Mro indigenous women and girls fell prey to attack and merciless beating meted out by one Muslim Bengali settler in Alikadam Sadar Union of Alikadam Sadar Upazila.

On 10 June 2024, one tender-aged Chakma girl was attempted to rape by one outsider Bangali labourer engaged in construction of Border Road in Dumdumya Union area of Jurachari Upazila under Rangamati Hill District.

Development Aggression

It is being observed that during the construction, many attractive sites adjacent to the Border Road are being sorted out and taken in acquisition after having marked as “Restricted Areas” by the army and BGB authorities with a view to establishing Tourism centers there. The army and BGB authorities are also being noticed carrying out the same in some other’s lands and even in schools and religious institutions by declaring “Restricted Areas” and erecting billboards at their whims and wishes. They impose prohibition of mobility in those sites.

In January 2024, as a result of construction of Border Road from Karigar Para bazar of Raikhali Union under Kaptai Upazila to Bilaichari Sadar, 2 Jumma villagers living in Hazachari Bhangamura of No.9 Ward under Chitmarong Union of Kaptai Upazila got evicted from their lands without compensation.

Border roads and link roads are being constructed in three hill districts by Army and BGB by destroying and evicting the houses, gardens and lands of indigenous Jumma people without giving any compensation to the affected families. Even after several assurances of compensation following the movement of the affected Jumma people demanding compensation, the army later refused to provide any compensation. The army also forcibly evict or evicted many Jumma villages and families to set up tourist centers.