1,933 Jummas subjected to human rights violations in 2023: PCJSS report

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Hill Voice, 2 January 2024, Special Correspondent: In 2023, 240 human rights violations were committed by security forces and law enforcement agencies, army-backed armed terrorist groups, communal and fundamental groups, Muslim Bengali settlers and land grabbers, and 1, 933 Jumma people were victims of human rights violations, 64 villages were raided by the army and 84 houses and family members were searched by the army in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT).

This frightening report was explored by Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) in an annual report on the human rights situation in the CHT Tracts in 2023.

Today (Tuesday, January 2), a press release signed by Sajib Chakma, Assistant Information and Publicity Secretary of the PCJSS said that due to non-implementation of the CHT Accord signed between the government and the PCJSS in 1997, the overall human rights situation in the CHT has turned into very explosive and alarming. Suppression and oppression, arrest, imprisonment, murder, disappearance, entangling in fabricated cases, land grabbing, eviction, and expansion of settler cluster villages by government, infiltration, minorisation of Jumma people, communal attack, cultural aggression, violence against women have become a common phenomenon.

It is worth mentioning that the CHT Accord, signed between Bangladesh Government and the PCJSS in 1997 to solve the CHT issue in a political and peaceful manner, has not been precisely implemented even after 26 years have elapsed. The Awami League government, signed the Accord, has been in power for 15 years since 2009. But even after long period in office, the ruling government has not come forward to implement the basic issues of the Accord. It is not only that, the government has not taken any effective steps to implement the Accord, but carrying out anti-Accord and anti-Jumma interest activities.

One of the glaring examples is- the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs (MoCHTA) has formed ‘an Inter-Ministerial Committee on evaluation, progress and monitoring status of the CHT Accord’ for the recommendation of review, evaluation and action plan of the Accord on September 28, 2022, keeping aside one of the signatories the PCJSS and the CHT Accord Implementation and Monitoring Committee. And through this anti-Accord entity, propaganda is being spreading that 65 sections out of 72 were implemented. In fact, only 25 of the 72 articles of the Accord have been implemented. The remaining 47 have either been totally unimplemented or partially implemented leaving them in limbo.

In 2023, the 7th and 8th meetings of the CHT Accord Implementation and Monitoring Committee were held on March 9 at Kuakata and August 20 at Jatiya Sangsad Bhavan, but there was no progress in implementing the resolutions taken in the previous meetings including these two ones. As a result, due to the non-cooperation and laxity of the government, the Committee has become a defunct body.

To cover up its failure to implement the Accord, the government is criminalizing Jumma people including workers and leaders of PCJSS who are demanding implementation of CHT Accord labelling them as ‘terrorist’, ‘separatist’, ‘armed miscreants’ and ‘extortionist’ to thwart the process of implementation of the Accord and movement through the security forces. As a part of that, fascist and anti-human rights activities have been intensified encountering right activists and the masses agitating for the implementation of the Accord with illegal arrest, extra-judicial killing, planting arms and arrest, sending to jail on false cases, and house search and vandalism without warrant, physical torture and harassment.

a) Persecution by administrations and security forces

135 incidents were committed by security forces and law enforcement forces, and 643 people were subjected to human right violations. Among them, 31 people were arrested or temporarily detained, 245 people beaten, injured and harassed, 53 people were entangled in false cases, conduction of military operations in 64 villages, army search of 84 houses, 31 families were evicted or threatened with eviction, initiatives of setting up 5 new camps were taken place in 2023.

(b) Ill-motivated activities of army backed armed terrorist groups

In 2023, 57 incidents were committed by the army-backed armed terrorist groups. In the incidents 1,055 persons along with residents of 30 villages were faced with human rights violations. Among them, 19 people were killed, 17 people beaten, 21 people kidnapped, 22 people detained, 6 people handed over to the police after being detained, about 1000 evicted from their villages of Bawm community, and the incidents of harassment and eviction of 25 villagers happened.

(c) Attack and land grabbing by settlers

In 2023, 24 incidents were committed by communal and fundamentalist groups, Muslim Bengali settlers and land grabbers, and 19 families and 210 Jummas were victims of human right violations. Among them, 6 people were killed and 18 houses were set on fire.

(d) Sexual harassment, violence, rape and murder

In 2023, there were 24 incidents of violence against Jumma women and children by state and non-state actors, and 25 women were subjected to human rights violations. Among them, one person was killed, 12 women and children were raped, 7 were attempted to be raped and 2 women and children were attempted to abduct and traffic.