UNPO calls for stopping militarization in CHT

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Hill Voice, 12 May 2024, International Desk, from Munich: The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) has called on the government of Bangladesh to stop militarization in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and find a political and peaceful solution to the CHT problem by implementing the CHT Accord.

This call has been made to the Bangladesh government at the UNPO’s 18th General Assembly conference held in Munich, Germany on Sunday (May 12). Priti Bindu Chakma of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) attended the 18th General Assembly Conference of UNPO held for two days on 11th and 12th May 2024 on behalf of Chittagong Hill Tracts. The resolution on the CHT was presented by Priti Bindu Chakma, representative of the PCJSS, in the General Assembly meeting.

The resolution states that, although the Awami League government, which signed the CHT Accord, has been in power for 15 years, it has not come forward to implement the Accord with sincerity and goodwill. Instead, the present government has adopted a policy of solving the CHT problem through massive militarization and fascist-style repression like the former dictators. The government has converted the CHT into a large cantonment by setting up more than four hundred camps.

The military raid on indigenous Jumma villages, arrest and beat the innocent people, send them to jail on false charges, house searches, shooting and killing in the name of crossfire, illegal detention and torture in camps have become a daily occurrence in CHT today. Not only that, the army as well as the government are carrying out communal attacks on Jumma people by inciting settlers, expropriation of Jumma people’s land, eviction in the name of tourism and various development projects, violence against women etc. are some examples of Jumma rights violations they carry out.

The army are creating armed terrorist groups one after another with Indigenous peoples with their “Divide and Rule” colonial policy and engaging them in terrorist activities like murder, kidnapping, extortion etc. to thwart PCJSS-led movement of indigenous Jumma people for implementation of the Accord. For example, in April 2023, the army’s created groups shot dead 7 Bawm community’s villagers in Bandarban district under military’s instigation. On the other hand, the army continue to criminalize the individuals and organizations engaged in the movement for implementation of the CHT Accord including members and supporters of the PCJSS entangling them with the terrorist activities.

In 2023, there were 240 human rights violations committed by militaries and law enforcement forces, army-backed armed terrorist groups, settlers and 1,933 Jumma people were victims of these human rights violations, 64 villages were raided and valuables of 84 houses were ransacked by the militaries.

In this situation, for the political and peaceful solution of the CHT problem and for the sake of lasting peace and sustainable development in the CHT, the UNPO’s XVIII General Assembly urged the government of Bangladesh-

1. Take the initiative to implement the CHT Accord without further delay in accordance with the decision of the CHT Accord Implementation and Monitoring Committee.
2. Stop militarization in the CHT and ensure political and peaceful solution to the problem through the implementation of the Accord.
3. Stop military operations and human rights violations against Jumma people in CHT and bring to justice the army personnel/persons involved in human rights violations.

Besides, the General Assembly adopted workplan to take the initiative for strengthening the international campaign by the UNPO and UNPO members for the implementation of the CHT Accord, with the aim of building a strong international public opinion, especially with the support of the European Union and the United Nations; and to organize an international conference on the implementation of the CHT Accord in collaboration with other human rights organizations at the initiative of UNPO.

It is to be noted that the UNPO, established on February 11, 1991 in The Hague, Netherlands, is a foundation and an international platform of solidarity established to promote the voices of unrepresented peoples worldwide and protect their fundamental rights. At present, the membership of UNPO is 37 territories/regions.

On the last day of the conference, Sunday (May 12), the 11-member Presidency Committee of the UNPO was elected. In the election, Rubina Greenwood was elected as president, and Elisenda Paluzie of Catalan and Tammy Bredt of Afrikaaner were elected as vice presidents.