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Monday, April 9, 2012

Memorandum on the state of Peace Accord of CHTs Region 1997, Bangladesh

Following is the memorandum on the state of "CHT Peace Accord of 1997", sent by CAJPA to U.S Ambassador to Bangladesh

April 6, 2012

 Honorable Dan W. Mozena
 United States Ambassador to Bangladesh
Embassy of the United States, Dhaka
Madani Avenue, Baridhara
Dhaka – 1212, Bangladesh

 Subject: Memorandum on the state of Peace Accord of CHTs Region 1997, Bangladesh

Dear Hon. Dan W. Mozena,

 We are highly delighted and grateful to you for your recent visit to our ancestral land –the land of Indigenous people known as Jumma of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs) Region of Bangladesh. We are also highly impressed on your precise and justified remarks on the state of Peace Accord of CHTs Region 1997 urging fulfillment of the Pact.

One and a half decade passed this Peace Accord was signed by the same Political Party with the same renowned Honorable Lady in power, not only as the Head of the Party but also as the Head of the Government - the Prime Minister.

The Party of Indigenous People of CHTs signed this Peace Accord with a good faith and high expectation of peaceful existence in this region preserving our identity, culture, traditions, society, and above all the individual and collective Land Rights where Indigenous peoples have been living for a lot of centuries according to available historical evidence.

In 1777, this Region was invaded by the British East India Company followed by direct British administrative control in 1860.

Considering the specific identity, culture, and social traditions of the people of this region from the then Bengal, the British Ruler of that colonial time declared the CHTs Region as EXCLUDED AREA on January 6, 1900. For the safeguard of the rational existence and entity of the ethnic peoples, the then British Government strictly followed the provisions of Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation 1, 1900 where non-ethnic peoples could not get settlement in this region according to one of the clauses to conserve the individual and collective Land Rights.

Most of the populous, developed and habitable land including fertile agricultural field of CHTs region went under water due to Kaptai Dam in 1960s driving away the Jumma population from their ancestral land where they were living for centuries together.

Again the rest of the land is being under mass grabbing through influx of Bangalee settlers from plane land under the sponsorship of the Government directly and indirectly since mid 70’s. Because of such settlement and deadly atrocities from time to time, Indigenous peoples are losing their lands, property, dwelling houses, sanctity and life. Even these Jumma people had to become refugees in India several times to save their life from such violent incidents.

Moreover, lands are being taken away continuously from the grip of indigenous people in the name of building camps for Army, BDR, Armed Police Battalion, Police, offices for government agencies, and various projects for NGOs and private companies letting more indigenous families to become destitute incessantly.

Where there was only 2.5 percent non-indigenous population in whole CHTs region in late 40’s during independence period of Indian sub-continent from British rule, now it stands up to 50 percent making the Indigenous population marginal in their own land with a portion living nearly in inhuman conditions.

 It was greatly expected that the grave situation that created severe problems and disparity in the life of indigenous peoples of this region would be solved with CHT Peace Accord signed by the Top Ministry in presence of the Prime Minister, Hon. Sheikh Hasina in 1997 who is also the Prime Minister at this time.

More than a decade passed, no light of hope is in sight yet rather going to be darker day by day.

 In these circumstances, your valuable and rightful remarks on CHTs Peace Accord might change the attitude of the Top Policy Makers and the Hon. Prime Minister of the Government of Bangladesh into humanitarian and lawful perspectives in order to execute the total implementation of the Peace Accord to bring peace, happiness and development in the region.
With high regards and best gratefulness,

Maung Thowai Nu Ching                                    Debashis Chakma
President                                                                             General Secretary

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