Petition to Implement the CHT Peace Accords – Support the Jumma peoples in Bangladesh!
Following continuous human rights violations in the region of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) urges all its supporters to sign a petition calling for the implementation of the 1997 CHT Peace Accords, which is essential for the well-being of the Jumma peoples of Bangladesh. This petition is addressed to Ms. Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, who is asked to implement the resolutions of the 1997 Peace Accord and to end the serious violations of the Jumma’s fundamental rights.
Please click on the image above or here to sign the petition and advocate for Jumma’s human rights! You can also read more about the indigenous communities of the Chittagong Hill Tracts by checking our member page.
Find bellow an explanatory note on the reasons underlying this petition, as provided by its organizers:
The Jummas, indigenous peoples from Bangladesh
The Jummas, collective noun given to the eleven indigenous peoples of the region of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in southeastern Bangladesh, are ethnically, culturally and linguistically different from the majority of the Bangladeshi population. The nearly 1 million Jumma peoples live on their traditional lands in the CHT.
Between 1979 and 1984, the government, that considered the territory of the Jummas as a virgin territory, settled 350,000 to 450,000 poor or landless Bengalis in the region. The Bengali population increased by 150% between 1979 and 1991. Along with colonization, indigenous peoples suffered evictions, arson and acts of violence . Sexual assaults on Jumma women and girls were used as a way to terrorize communities and force them to leave their homes. Deprived of their means of subsistence, communities have still not received compensation for the loss of their lands.
The war and the Peace Accord of 1997
The Jummas’ resistance to colonization unleashed a war against the Bangladeshi army (1970s-1997) that resulted in more than 10,000 deaths. The Peace Accord, signed in 1997 under the leadership of the current Prime Minister, Ms. Sheikh Hasina, provided, among other provisions, for:
1. the withdrawal of non-permanent military camps in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the ending of the excessive militarization of the region;
2. the restitution of lands confiscated by the army and the settlers to Jumma peoples and the immediate ending of the colonization process;
3. the delegation of power to regional and district-level councils so that Jumma peoples can enjoy greater political autonomy.
Non-enforcement of the Peace Accord
Unfortunately, this accord has not been enforced.
The Jummas, who are a minority in Bangladesh, are still suffering violations of their rights and have few or no access to justice to have them respected. The Special Rapporteur of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Lars-Anders Baer, observed the existence of "arbitrary arrests, torture, killings, harassment of activists and sexual violence" against Jumma peoples.
The Jummas particularly suffer from violence because of an excessive militarization of their territory. According to a UN report, one third of the Bangladesh army is deployed in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, an area which represents only a tenth of the country and 1% of its population. In 2012, the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) estimated that there was one soldier out of 40 citizens in the Chittagong Hill Tracts whereas there was one out of 1,750 citizens in the rest of the country.
Moreover, the Jummas are still being evicted from their lands. Today, they constitute a majority in the region but have become minorities within Bandarban district and in every urban municipality. Deprived of their own territories and natural resources, their traditional activities such as harvesting, pasture, hunting, herding and gathering are affected.