Nov 25, 2011

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Positive Steps Taken Towards Peace Accords

Dialogue between Bangalees and Hill people over lingering issues, including land rights, has demonstrated potential for future peace agreements.

Below is an article by The Daily Star:

Both Bangalees and hill people want an end to longstanding problems in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) to create an environment of peaceful coexistence in the region, Sultana Kamal, co-chair of CHT Commission said yesterday [24 November 2011].

She was talking to local journalists at a press briefing after a meeting with CHT Regional Council Chairman Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, popularly known as Santu Larma, at the conference room of the council office at Rangamati.

A six-member team of the commission led by Sultana Kamal has been on a visit to Khagrachhari, Rangamati and Bandarban hill districts in CHT from last Tuesday [22 November 2011].

"Problem of CHT is a political one and so, political goodwill is needed for its solution. The process for full implementation of the CHT peace deal is getting delayed due to changes in national political situation, especially when the government is changed," she said.

"Our commission aimed to establish lasting peace in hills for all people through resolving problems. Our main task is to find out barriers and place recommendations to the government to pave the way for proper implementation of the peace deal," said Sultana Kamal, also a noted rights activist.

Santu Larma, chairman of CHT Regional Council, lamented that the CHT peace accord is yet to see full implementation despite high talks by the head of the government and other ministers.

Land dispute is the main problem in hills and it needs to be resolved early, said Swapan Adnan, member of CHT Commission.

The team, also comprising Elsa Stamatopoulou, co-chair, barrister Sara Hossain, member, Jenneke Arens, advisor, and Hana Shams Ahmed, coordinator, team arrived in Rangamati from Khagrachhari yesterday noon [24 November 2011] and met with Santu Larma.

They also held talks on different CHT related issues, mainly peace accord, separately with Nikhil Kumar Chakma, chairman of Rangamati Hill District Council, deputy commissioner, leaders of different political parties including Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS).

Earlier, the team held talks with leaders of different political parties in Khagrachhari, including PCJSS and United People's Democratic Front (UPDF) and government's high officials on CHT issues. UPDF made a 14-point recommendation to the commission including return of land right to the jummo people and full autonomy in CHT.

The team will visit Bandarban today and hold talks with local leaders of different political parties and women rights activists.