Hill Voice, 10 September 2020, Chittagong Hill Tracts: In August 2020, the army detained at least 30 Jumma people including students and the elderly personsin Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Among them,8 persons were sent to jail entangling in various cases and rest 22 detainees were released after harassing and torturing in the camps, says monthly report of August published by ParbatyaChattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) on 10 August 2020.
The report titled “August 2020: Monthly Report on Human Rights Situation in the CHT” says, the whole world including Bangladesh is not yet free from the pandemic of COVID-19 virus. Although it is known that vaccines have been invented by different countries to cure the corona virus, the use of those vaccines or any medicine has not started yet. As a result, the risk and panic of corona virus infection has not yet been eliminated or the chances of getting rid of it soon are poor. But still people have to go to work, to various production activities and to the market in order to earn a living. Especially the marginalized Jumma people in the hills have no chance to stay at home. On the other hand, due to the difficult political situation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) and the anti-Accord and the anti-Jumma activities of the government and the state, the indigenous Jumma people are in a difficult situation where they cannot stay at home or cannot go outside the CHT.The normal life of the Jumma people seems to have become suffocating due to various political, economic, social, cultural and governmental and non-governmental developmental activities in the CHT andthe constant interference of the government and state forces in the general lifestyle of the Jumma people.
Although the CHT Accord was signed in 1997 to resolve the CHT problem through political and peaceful means, the government has now completely stopped the implementation process of the Accord and continues to play the opposite role. For the past 23 years, the government has not implemented the basic provisions of the Accord, and what the government has implemented that has been used against the spirits of the Accord and against the interests of the Jumma people. The government has been completely disregarding and ignoring the CHT Regional Council, the apex body in the special administration system of CHT introduced as per the Accord, and has been conspiring to destroy the ParbatyaChattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS), one of the signatory parties of the Accord, in a fascist manner. In fact, instead of resolving the CHT problem politically and peacefully, the government has resorted to so-called solution by using force and mobilizing state forces, including the army, and using military repression and suppression. As a result, conspiracies against the Accord of the government and state forces, violation of human rights of the Jumma people and turning the CHT into a Muslim inhabited region have become much more horrible and violent to the Jumma people of the CHT than the COVID-19 pandemic.
Compared to the previous month, the activities, torture and oppression of the army have increased in August 2020. In fact, the gravity of military rule in the CHT is increasing day by day. At the same time, the control, authority and vigilance of the military and various intelligence agencies over the various media outlets and the freedom of speech and expression of the people have increased alarmingly. As a result, the news of the brutality and repression of the military rule in the CHT did not come up in any media.
In August 2020, the army detained at least 30 Jumma people including students and the elderly personsin CHT,and8 persons out of 30 detainees were sent to jail entangling in various cases and rest 22 persons were released after harassing and torturing in the camps. In addition, the surrounding of Buddhist monasteries during religious ceremonies, torture and intimidation of 9 people in various ways, army operations in villages, support and shelterto Reformists and UPDF (Democratic)armed terrorists by the army including searching of 16 houses, including military activities have increased greatly. In addition, harassment of ordinary Jumma people in the name of search atthe existing checkposts has increased and new checkposts are being set up.
Not only that, in August 2020 the army and BGB authorities in Baghaichhari stopped UNDP’s rice distribution program among the poor as incentives of corona pandemic in Baghaichhari on the pretext of giving more relief to the Jumma people than the Bengali settlers. Besides, there were incidents of closure of a shop belonging to Jumma people in Sajek of Baghaichhari by the army and demolition of 20 shops of temporary market inPanchhariupazila of Khagrachhari and obstruction of selling and purchasing the commodities at temporary markerin Logangby the BGB.
On the other hand, 2 people were killed, 01 was injured and 2 were abducted and ransomed, 2 were threatened and 1 motorcycle was snatched in the attacks of the army-backed Reformist and UPDF (Democratic) terrorists and in the gunfight among them. As in the past, people have to pay a large amount of money on any pretext at any timeincluding paying a certain amount of money from the people every monthto army-backed groups. The army and the DGFI are not only harboring and aiding these Reformist and UPDF (Democratic) terrorists, but at various times the army is openly using them in raids on Jumma villages and houses.
At the end of August 2020, a Tripura widow (25) was allegedly gang-raped by 6 Bengali settlers in Lama ofBandarban and an 8th gradeMarma girl (14) was gang-raped by 4 settler youths in Mahalchhari ofKhagrachhari district.
Even in the 23 years of the CHT Accord, the non-implementation of the CHT Land Commission Act and the non-resolution of land disputes in CHT have led to an increase in attempts by outsiderMuslim settler to occupy the landof Jumma people afresh. In addition, in the recent past, in the three hill districts, indiscriminate deforestation, hill cutting, extraction of natural sand and stones, etc., have been intensified by various government and non-government companies and individuals. In August 2020, Bengali settlerserected a house forcibly occupying the land of a Jumma villager atBhushanchhara in Barkal and tried to occupy the Jumma people’s recorded land at Bagachatar areain Longadu of Rangamati.
On the other hand, threatening to burn down houses of threeMrovillages for eviction them from their ancestral villages by various rubber companies including Lama Rubber Industries and Meridian Company in Sorai Union of Lama Upazila of Bandarban;grabbing of Para Bon (Village Common Forest) of remote Mro villages of Daluchari of Gajalia union of Lama upazila and taking away of Gorjan trees of the VCF etc. have been reported. Besides, a Jumma person named BimungMarma (50) was killed in Baishari union of Naikhyongchhariupazila of Bandarban. Locals alleged that the killings were carried out by outsider land grabbers.