Aggressive dev projects destructive to national existence of Jumma peoples, says PCJSS representative at EMRIP

PCJSS representative at EMRIP

Hill Voice, 6 July 2022, International Desk: Many aggressive development projects in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in Bangladesh are destructive to the national existence of the indigenous Jumma peoples, says Augustina Chakma, representative of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS).

She made this statement on behalf of PCJSS, Bangladesh Indigenous Peoples Forum (BIPF) and International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) at the 15th session of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP) of the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in participating at the Agenda “Item 8: Panel discussion on the impact of development projects on indigenous women” on 6 July 2022 in Geneva.

In her statement, Augustina Chakma said that the aggressive development projects on land and natural resource-based economy lead to the displacement of indigenous peoples from their land and forest.

There are many such development projects in the CHT in Bangladesh, which are destructive to the national existence of the indigenous Jumma peoples. Particularly, the indigenous Jumma women are the worst victims of such projects.

One of such projects is the establishment of a tourist centre by the army in the CHT. The Bangladesh army has occupied huge hilly lands belonging to the impoverished and backward Jumma people by setting up resorts, restaurants, and shopping centres.

Another example was recently in April 2022, the outsider land grabbers set on fire 350 acres of Jum farming land, plantation, and village common forests in three villages of Lama with an aim to occupy the land and resulting livelihood, food and drinking water crisis of 200 men and women from 39 Indigenous families.

All of this has a direct impact on the food security of displaced women. Wiping out the indigenous women from the land and forest is pushing them into the prevalent gender inequality and economic suffering. Hence, indigenous women have been losing their sources of livelihood in the CHT as well as plain lands.

A distinguished panel, I ask you what kind of global actions could we formulate together that will have a positive impact on proper development in the Indigenous regions without harming the indigenous communities, especially the women and children.

Lastly, Augustina Chakma included her statement questioning that what can individuals such as my Bangladeshi sisters who live in this climate do when they are the most vulnerable communities to sexual, physical and mental harassment that may not have access to adequate resources?

The 15th session of the EMRIP has started from Monday, July 4, 2022 at the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland and the session on various agendas will continue till July 8. Apart from the representatives of PCJSS, Mrinal Kanti Tripura from Bangladesh has also delivered statement participating in the same agenda item of the session.