Aug 02, 2018

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Violence Against Women Continues While Government Looks Away

Sexual violence against indigenous women and children in the Chittagong Hills Tracts remains a worrying trend, as another victim was found last week after an attack supposedly committed by Bengalis. Tensions in the CHT have particularly spiked during the last few months, due to the increase of violence against indigenous women by Bengali settlers and the Bangladeshi military. The passivity of the authorities in the face of these attacks has made indigenous communities rise in protest against what they regard as government-sponsored violence aiming at marginalising these communities in their own region. Indigenous communities in the Chittagong Hills Tracts represent not only an ethnic minority, but also a religious minority in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, something that has been the source of a long-standing conflict in the region.

The following press release was published by the Kapaeeng Foundation:

On 28 July 2018, a minor indigenous Tripura girl (10) was brutally killed after rape at Noimile area under Dighinala upazila in Khagrachari Hill District. Police recovered the dead body of the victim from Noimile area around 11 pm on Saturday 28 July. The deceased girl, 10-year-old Kirttika Tripura Purna, daughter of late Narottam Tripura was a fifth-grade student of Noimile Tripura Para Government Primary School. On the day of incident, Kirtika Tripura Purna left her school to go home during the launch break of the school. At that time, all her family members were in jhum field and it is believed that the unfortunate event has occurred in-between. However, when the daughter did not return home from school after the evening her mother, Onumoti Tripura started looking for her daughter. Moreover, the school authorities informed her mother that Kirttika Tripura never returned school after the afternoon break. Later, with the help of Dighinala Police, Kirttika’s dead body was found dumped in a bush within 150-feet of the victim’s residence at Tapan Karbari Para. 

According to local sources, a truck was parked in front of her house, with 3/4 Bengali men glancing piercingly at her. The victim’s mother went to jhum cultivation and no one was at home during that time. The victim’s mother found her daughter missing after returning home from work in the evening. Then she started searching for her daughter. Later she spotted some bloods in the bushes near their house. Later the victim’s dead body found lying on the grass, with her clothes ripped and body all battered. The perpetrators raped her, slit her throat and vagina, stabbed in her arms, face and all over her body with knife and penetrated her anus with sticks. 

On 29 July 2018, Onumoti Tripura, mother of the deceased lodged a complainant with Dighinala Police Station against some suspect people (accused of rape and murder) under the Women and Child Repression Prevention Act. The filing case number is 4. Dighinala Police have been arrested 3 suspects in connection with the rape and killing of Kirttika Tripura on 30 July 2018 from Boalkhali area of Dighinala. The detainees are 1) Shah Alam (33), son of late Md. Mobarak; 2) Nazrul Islam Bandari (32) son of Md. Jalal Uddin and 3) Monir Hossain (38) son of Fazar Ali.  However, the remaining perpetrators are still at large.

After discovering the dead body of the victim, the police sent it to the Khagrachari Sadar Hospital for postmortem. The dead body was handed over to family members on 29 July Sunday morning after an autopsy at Khagrachhari Sadar Hospital. The hospital’s Resident Physician Dr. Noyonmoy Tripura said they had found sharp weapon wounds on different parts of Kirttika’s body.

On 29 July 2018 Md. Rashedul Islam, Deputy Commissioner of Khagrachari district; Md. Ali Ahmed Khan, Superintendent of Police of Khagrachari district; Lt. Cornel Ferdous Zia Uddin Ahmed, Captain of Dighinala Army Zone; Md. Aftab Uddin, Additional Superintendent of Police of Khagrachari district; Md. Sheik Shahidul Islam, Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Dighinala upazila; Naba Kamal Chakma, Dighinala Upazila Parishad Chairman; Md. Shahadat Hossain Tito, Officer-in-Charge of Dighinala Police Station visited the incident area and victim family. Mr. Kujendra Lal Tripura, Member of Parliament of Khagrachari constituency and Chairman of Taskforce also visited the victim family and demanded to arrest the perpetrators and bring the justice. 

On 29 July 2018 local people of Dighinala protested by blocking the road and demanded justice. Later they also submitted a memorandum to the Home Minister of Bangladesh through Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Dighinala upazila.  

On 30 July 2018, student of Khagrachari Government College boycotted their classes and took out a procession that gathered in front of the main gate of the Khagrachari District Judge Court. Members of different student organisations participated in the procession including Bangladesh Marma Students Council and Tripura Students Forum and Youth Front including Hill Students Council, Hill Women’s Federation, the Socialist Student, Bangladesh Tripura Kalyan Sangsad, Noimile Gucchogram and Bangladesh Primary Teachers Association. Later, Bangladesh Tripura Kalyan Sangsad also submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister through Khagrachari Deputy Commissioner’s Office regarding the incident. 

On 30 July 2018, Chittagong Hill Tracts International Commission (CHTC) strongly condemned the rape and murder of a schoolgirl in Khagrachhari and demanded exemplary punishment for the criminals. Manusher Jonno Foundation (MJF) also expressed deep shock and concern over the incident and demanded punishment for the perpetrators.

Kongjari Chowdhury, Chairman of Khagrachari Hill District Council paid his visit and donated BDT 50,000 to the victim family on 31 July 2018. Nalendra Lal Tripura, President of Khagrachari Tripura Kalyan Sangsad, Shatarupa Chakma and Juwel Tripura, Member of Khagrachari Hill District Council and Teko Chakma, President of Khagrachari Chatro League also present along with Kongjari Chowdhury. 

On 31 July 2018, students, political activists and different organisations demonstrated in 9 upazilas protesting the vicious murder and rape of the Tripura girl. Primary School Teachers Association of Dighinala organized a human chain in Dighinala Upazila headquarters and protested against the hilarious acts of the perpetrators.

Indigenous Student Organisations of Jahanghirnagar University organized a protest rally at TSC in Jahanghirnagar University and demanded punishment of the rapists on 31 July 2018. Bangladesh Chattro Union, Somajtantrik Chattro Front and Members of Jahanghirnagar University Parliament also present in the gathering and procession.

On 31 July 2018, Hill Students Council of Chittagong University and Pahari Shramik Kalyan Forum organized a protest rally against the rape and killing of Kirttika at Cheragi Pahar More in Chittagong city demanding arrest and punishment of the perpetrators.  

Hill Students Council, Hill Women’s Federation, Bangladesh Adivashi Chatra Sangram Parishad and Tripura Student Forum organized a protest rally and gathering at Raju Memorial Sculpture of Dhaka University on 31 July 2018. Different organisations, including Bangladesh Student Union, Bangladesh Student Federation, Bangladesh Garo Student Organisation, Bangladesh Garo Student Federation, Bangladesh Marma Student Council and Leaders of Revolutionary Student Alliance also participated in the procession.

On the other hand, the Security Forces of Khagrachari obstructed the rally of the indigenous students relating to the rape and killing of Kirttika Tripura Purna and stopped them from continuing it on 31 July 2018 at Guimara upazila in Khagrachari district.  

On 1 August 2018 the Security Forces of Bandarban impeded the peaceful rally of Sochetan Chatro Somaj relating to the incident of the killing of the Tripura girl at Noimile area under Khagrachari. 

In recent months, from January-June 2018, at least 18 human rights violations incident on indigenous women both in plain and CHT have been observed. A total of 23 indigenous women were subjected to the victims including killing, gang rape, rape, torture, sexual harassment in which, 2 were killed after rape and more 4 were killed, 2 was gang raped, 7 were raped, 5 were attempted to rape and 3 were sexually harassed and assaulted in Bandarban, Chittagong, Khagrachari, Mymensingh, Rangamati and Dhaka. In the month of May alone, two indigenous Tripura girls were brutally killed after rape in Sitakunda upazila of Chittagong district. Besides, two teenage Tripura girls in two separate incidents were also gang raped in Bandarban and Khagrachari in April and June respectively. The very heart-breaking incident – rape and sexual harassment of two Marma sisters from Bilaichari, Rangamati - was reported in January. They, along with their parents, are still kept confined with police security at Vedvedi area in Rangamati municipality since January 2018.

Picture courtesy of wikimediacommons