July 20, 2017

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Jumma Activists Unlawfully Detained and Tortured

Photo courtesy of Survival International

In several recent and consecutive episodes, Jumma villagers and members of the political organisation of the multilingual indigenous Jumma people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti, PCJSS) have been kept under unlawful detention by the Bangladeshi intelligence agency and army. The detainees have endured physical and psychological torture and the recurrence of these illegal imprisonments has been causing panic among the Jumma people. Between January 2016 and June 2017, 50 members and supporters of the PCJSS have been arrested. UNPO stands with the PCJSS and calls on Bangladeshi authorities to unconditionally release the detainees and to take the necessary measures to halt oppression and violence against the indigenous Jumma people. 

The statement below was released by the PCJSS:

In recent days, the Jumma villagers and members of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) who were released on bail are being illegally held without warrant and taken to the Army zone by the intelligence agency and army wherein they are tortured and having them freshly entangled in other on-going past cases, they are being sent to jail and this kind of event has been taking place one after another. Thus how panic is being created among the Jumma people by causing such happenings again and again. The followings are the latest illustrations of the kind:

1. On 14 July 2017 early in the morning at 3:30 am, Shwehla Prue Marma (50), member of PCJSS Ruma Thana Committee and elected member of Ruma Union Parishad was arrested from his house of Edenpara of Ruma bazar in Ruma upazila in bandarban district by army and police led by Lt. Col. Atikur Rahman and Major Mehedi of 29 Bengaliof Ruma garrision putting arm with his house.

2. On 3 July 2017, Rango Lal Tanchangya (47), Organizing Secretary of PCJSS Rowangchari Union branch in Rowangchari Upazila under Bandarban Hill District, while on his way back home from his usual attendance in the Court of District Chief Judicial Magistrate during trial of a fabricated case in which he had been shown as an accused on falsehood basis, a group of 3 intelligence personnel in civil attire appearing from the western side of the Deputy Commissioner’s Office, forcibly held Ranga Lal Tanchangya and took away him on a motor cycle at around 12:30 pm. Besides, the security forces in civil dress held Ripon Tanchangya (25), member of Parbatya Chattagram Juba Samiti around 11 am that day and took him to the Bandarban Army Zone from where they handed him over to the Bandarban Police Station at 5:00 pm after meting out heavy torture and entangling in a got-up case.

3. Anil Tanchangya (35), Students & Youth Affairs Secretary of PCJSS Rowangchari Upazila Sadar Branch and an inhabitant of Rowangchari Upazila under Bandarban Hill District was picked up by 3 personnel of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) and Forces Intelligence Unit (FIU) of security forces right from the corridor of Bandarban Magistrate Judge Court as he arrived there to enroll his regular attendance in the court at 1:30 pm on 12 June 2017 and he was soon taken to Bandarban Army Zone. The army personnel meted out inhuman torture upon him there and handed him over to the Bandarban Police Station in critically injured condition at 5:00 pm. The police sent Anil Tanchangya to the jail showing him on 15 June 2017, as one of the un-named accused in the fabricated abduction case.

4. A group of army from Sualok-Amtali army camp of Bandarban Sadar held Biplab Chakma (33), PCJSS member of Tankaboti Union Committee and an inhabitant of Tankaboti Chakma Rehabilitation village and Amar Chakma (32), member of Parbatya Chattagram Juba Samiti Tankaboti Union Committee and take them away around 6:30 am on 18 March 2017. The persons held by the army were on their way to work in their respective lands. No case or arrest warrant was filed against or issued in their names.

Holding and taking away the persons released on bail and common people in this manner and meting out extrajudicial physical torture and sending them to the jail, is direct violation of fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution of the country. Events of this kind can never bear the symbol of rule of law and of democratic rights.

It is to be noted that in recent days, the atrocities upon the members and supporters of PCJSS and its associate organizations by the Army-BGB forces and the local leadership of rulings, have gotten increased to boundless degree. Especially, the enhancing atrocities at the whims and wishes of the army-BGB-police forces include arrest and filing up falsehood cases against the members and supporters of PCJSS, searching their houses and offices causing damage, creating terror through collecting information and enlisting names, etc. Since January 2016 to June 2017, fabricated cases have been filed up against 150 persons including the innocent villagers, 50 members and supporters of PCJSS have been arrested, more than 200 persons have been meted out brutal torture and more than 150 members of the organization have been compelled to flee from their respective areas. Of them, the public representatives and leaders of traditional institutions who have been compelled to flee from their areas since June 2016 are two members of CHT Regional Council namely Sadhuram Tripura and K S Mong Marma, Chairman of Rowangchhari Upazila Parishad Kyawba Mong Marma, acting and former Chairman of Noapatang Union Parishad Aung Thowai Ching Marma and Shambhu Kumar Tanchangya respectively, Headman of 347 Murukhyong mouza Mong Prue Marma et al.

In this circumstance, the PCJSS demands for immediate end to such arbitrary arrest, detention and physical torture upon the Jumma people and sending them to jail; immediate and unconditional release of the detainees; stop mass atrocities upon innocent people by the army-BGB-police forces misusing the law on plea of measures against extortion and terrorist activities – in the interest of maintaining peace and stability in CHT including the Bandarban hill district; withdrawal of all the temporary camps and de facto military rule ‘Operation Uttoran’ as per the Accord; and speedy, proper and full implementation of unimplemented issues of the Accord with immediate effect.