Chittagong Hill Tracts: Series of Arbitrary Arrests and Torture of Activists Continues
Photo courtesy of Christian Enri/Flickr
In a press release published on 1 April 2017, the Publicity Secretary of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Smahati Samiti (PCJSS) condemns the arbitrary arrest and torture of two members of PCJSS and Pahari Chatra Parishad (PCP, or Hill Student’s Forum) in the Rangamati district of Kaptai. On 31 March 2017, paramilitary forces connected to Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) surrounded the victims’ houses and demanded their surrender after having planted explosives. A few hours after the arrest, the BGB handed over the victims to the Chandraghona Police. The victims showed severe injuries resulting from brutal and “inhumane treatment” by the BGB. Tragically, this most recent incident is but one of many cases of human rights violations committed by the Bangladeshi government against the indigenous Jumma people.
Below is a press release by Parbatya Chattagram Jana Smahati Samiti (PCJSS):
In a press release signed by information and Publicity Secretary of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Smahati Samiti (PCJSS) dated 1 April 2017, PCJSS condemns arbitrary arrest and brutal torture of two members of PCJSS and PCP in Kaptai under Rangamati district and demands their immediate and unconditional release.
PCJSS says, early hours of 31 March 2017 Thowai Shoinu Marma (47), president of Raikhali Union Committee of Parbatya Chattagram Jana Smahati Samiti (PCJSS) and member of No.4 Ward of Raikhali Union Parishad and Kyahing Hla Marma (23), president of Kaptai Upazila Committee of Pahari Chatra Parishad (PCP) were arrested by 19 Battalion BGB personnel of Wagga BGB zone under Kaptai upazila in Rangamati district.
It is learnt that on that day at around 1:00 am the BGB personnel surrounded the house of Thowai Shoinu Marma of Narangiri Mukh village under Raikhali Union in Kaptai upazila. The searching party took Thowai Shoinu Marma and his son Kyahing Hla Marma out of their houses and arrested them after planting explosive materials. After arrest, firstly they were taken to Wagga BGB Zone Headquarters and then to Dongchari BGB camp. The victims sustained fatal injuries resulting out of having been treated inhumanly with middle-age brutality. Lastly at 10:00 pm, the BGB party handed the victims over to the Chandraghona Police Station under Kaptai upazila in serious condition.
Besides, the BGB personnel surrounded the house of Ranjit Tanchangya, land and agriculture affairs secretary of Raikhali Union Committee of PCJSS and member of No. 7 Ward of Raikhali Union Parishad at around 1:00 pm on that day. Getting into the house, the BGB party broke the wardrobe lock and conducted search and made the household articles disarrayed here and there. Apart from this, the BGB personnel also surrounded the house of Samiran Tanchangya, member of Kaptai Thana Committee of PCJSS.
PCJSS strongly protests against arbitrary arrest and brutal torture of Thowai Shoinu Marma and Kyahing Hla Marma who were arrested by way of planting explosive materials and demands for their immediate and unconditional release.
It is worthy to be mentioned that in recent times, conducting unwarranted search anywhere and anytime, filing up fabricated cases against the Jumma people including the PCJSS members engaged in the movement, arbitrary arrest and putting into the jail, meting out brutal torture, harassment, etc. have been strengthened at the initiative of army, BGB and police forces in collaboration with the administration and ruling party. PCJSS has the ground to consider this suppressive measure is directed to label the justified movement for implementation of the CHT Accord as to be terrorist activities, to destroy the PCJSS leadership and above all, to foil implementation process of the CHT Accord. Consequent to such suppression and oppression, the situation in CHT is undoubtedly moving towards restlessness, which can never be good to the greater interest of the country. Therefore, PCJSS sets forth strong demand for putting an end to the genre of fascist suppression and oppression upon the Jumma people including PCJSS leadership with immediate effect.
Military atrocity on Jumma villagers at Morichyabil in Rangamati
A group of army led by Lt. Shahriar of 21 Bengal from Rajmuni Para Camp under Jurachari Army Zone conducted a searching operation in Morichyabil Dokanghat area of Rangamati Sadar Upazila under Rangamati district on 24-26 February 2017. On 24 February at around 4:00 pm army apprehended 7 villagers while they were loading and unloading their goods. The following villagers who had been held-up were released at 11:00 pm-
1. Joy RamTanchangya (28), Father: BhubanTanchangya;
2. Sadhan Kumar Tanchangya;
3. RuparamTanchangya and
Rest of other 3 persons were tortured by Lt. Shariar at Morichyabil Dokanghat. On 25 February, army held another one villager named Puspa Kumar Tanchangya who was also severely beaten up. The victims are:
1. Jadi Kumar Tanchangya(22) Father UjenTanchangya
2. Tara Kumar Tanchangya(24) Father JalaMoniTanchangya
3. Ashish Tripura(25) Father: Sara Mohan Tripura
4. Puspa Kumar Tanchangya(24) Father: Late PottoMoniTanchangya
Lt. Shahriar bared the victims of shirts and banyans and soaked them in the water; and made them stay with drenched clothes for the whole night. In the morning on 25 February, he made them crawl on the ground for 35 times in bared bodies. He made them crawl and speak to him while lying on chest under his feet. While the Morichyabil village head, Ranjit Tanchangya went to the camp, the Lieutenant freed Puspa Kumar Tanchangya and handed over to the village head. It was learnt that the 3 other villagers were set free at 11:30 am and handed them over to Biplab Tripura, member of No.2 ward of Balukhali Union Council.
On the other side, the army conducted another searching operation in the Koilyatali village of Kilyamura area under Balukhali union of Rangamati Sadar Upazila on 25 February. The army collected the liquor-preparing accessories from house to house and after having snaps, threatened them of handing them over to the police.
Lt. Shahriar, once again led another operation in the Morichyabil village on 26 February 2017. He opened up a check point where the villagers going to and coming from market had to undergo checking. All the market and home-bound boats were made stop at Dokanghat of Morichyabil area and the boats were made stay for hours together in the name of checking. Checking included National Identity Card, Voter Card, Blood Group, etc. and the army personnel continued to search whereabouts of the PCJSS members. The searching party unclothed the villagers and examined their bodies while querying them if they had received training and where they had received training. The army searched the houses of Nayan Tanchangya, Kulamoni Chakma, Priyotam Chakma and Chandra Chakma at Morichyabil village.
A group of army from Basanta Moun Pangkho Para camp led by Subedar Alamgir, took position at Badalchari government primary school on 24 February and after halting for 3 days returned to their camp on 26 February.
Update: Surrender of kidnapers and release them by army in Rowangchari
It is learnt that 3 persons who had kidnapped Mong Shwe Thui Karbari, the Village Head of Bagmara Bhitar Para surrendered to Betchari army camp at 10:00 pm on 20 February 2017. Of the 3 surrendered persons have been identified as Unu Mong Marma (37) s/o Mongni Marma from village Latahhiri of Taracha Union; Anumong Marma from Latajhira villager and Mong Me Marma from Naya Para of Taracha Union under Rowangchari Upazila. It is worthy to be mentioned that Mong Shwe Thui Karbari could escape from custody of the kidnappers through wriggling with them. It is learnt that the injury mark is left in Unu Mong Marma’s head. It is learnt that Unu Mong Marma is a member of Awami League.
Before making surrender, the said kidnappers had a contact with Hla Thowai Hri Marma, Assistant General Secretary of Awami League District Committee and also former Upazila Chairman of Rowangchari Upazila Parishad and Chaihla U Marma, ex-member of Taracha Union Council and accordingly, the kidnappers came to Lemujhiri to meet them on 20 February at 11:00 am, following which, they were taken to the Betchari army camp at 10:00 pm. Then they were then taken to Bandarban district headquarters from where they were released on 26 February 2017.
It is to be noted that the surrendered persons, confessed themselves, of their involvement in the kidnapping of Mong Shwe Thui Karbari. Besides, it was learnt from a reliable source that Mong Shwe Thui Karbari, who could inflict casualty to the kidnappers and after freeing himself on 5 February 2017, he took shelter at Betchara camp, mentioned the names of kidnappers. Despite being so, the army authority and Awami League leadership, instead of arresting, set the kidnappers free. At this, it can safely be said that the kidnapping Mong Shwe Thui Karbari had been a pre-planned plot and the kidnapping drama was the dishonest play was staged with a view to harass the PCJSS members and supporters. Furthermore to be mentioned here that the cases filed against the PCJSS members centering the kidnapping have not yet been withdrawn and the members held behind the bar also have not been released.
It is to be mentioned that some unknown elements kidnapped Mong Shwe Thui Karbari, village head of Bagmara Bhitor Para under Noapatang Union at around 9:00 pm on 3 February 2016. Following this incident, the army conducted several searching operations that involved arrest of four persons, beaten up 6 innocent persons and meting out physical torture upon 10 innocent persons in the camp.