CHTC expresses deep concern at human rights violations in CHT

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Hill Voice, 12 April 2023, International Desk: In a statement, the International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission said that it has been shocked at the death of eight indigenous Bawm men and expressed deep concern at continued human rights violations in the CHT.

It also demanded a judicial investigation into the killing of eight Bawm Indigenous men, identify the perpetrators, and ensure justice and demilitarization of the CHT and steps to fully implement the 1997 CHT Accord and prevent all types of anti-accord directives and activities.

The statement says, ‘12 April 2023 the International Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission (CHTC) is deeply concerned about the death of eight indigenous Bawm men in an alleged ‘gunfight’ at Rowangchari Upazila in Bandarban on 6 April 2023. Quoting security officials, various media reported that all the killed persons belong to the indigenous Bawm Christian community and are members of the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF). They allegedly died when a gunfight broke out between KNF and UPDF (Democratic). Newagebd further mentioned that the KNF denied the deceased to be their members, and they claimed that the victims were innocent villagers.’

This is a deliberate and targeted massacre against the Bawm community, one of CHT’s smallest indigenous groups. The CHTC demands an immediate and impartial judicial investigation into the exact circumstances of the events.’

It states, ‘The CHT Commission is very alarmed at all this unrest unfolding in CHT and the continued human rights violations. We believe this results from the non-implementation of the CHT Accord even after a quarter-century of its signature. To ensure long-lasting peace and stability in CHT, we recommend the following to the government of Bangladesh:

• To initiate a judicial investigation into the killing of eight Bawm Indigenous men, identify the perpetrators, and ensure justice.

• To ensure the safety of the local Bawm Indigenous community and take immediate measures to bring back a few hundred Bawm refugees who have fled to India since last October and provide urgent support to the people who have been internally displaced.

• To stop criminalizing Indigenous rights activists, withdraw all the fabricated court cases filed against them, and allow them to return to normal life.

• To conduct impartial and prompt investigations into the continued alleged human rights violations in CHT and ensure justice to the victims and accountability for those responsible.

• To demilitarize the CHT and to take steps to fully implement the 1997 CHT Accord and prevent all types of anti-accord directives and activities.’