May 03, 2004

Report on the Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord

Seven years after the agreement Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti publish a report on the Implementation of the CHT Accord

The Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord 1997 signed between the Government of Bangladesh and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) recognises the reestablishment of the rights of the Jumma indigenous peoples over the CHT region, southeastern part of Bangladesh with the formation of four local councils as controlling and supervisory bodies over land & land management, law & order, civil administration, police (local), development, primary & secondary education, forest & environment, and many more. Unfortunately, after the elapse of six and a half years under three successive governments the Accord could not bring any exemplary development of the situation except the halting of regular fighting between the Bangladesh security forces and the Shanti Bahini (Peace Force) of the PCJSS.

Though the Accord got acclamation from world community including the UN through awarding UNESCO Houpet-Felix Boigny Peace Award in 1999 the CHT Jumma people still live under duress because of continuous pressure from the civil administration manned by non-indigenous and non-local officials and communal attacks by the Bengali settlers with direct backing from many camps of the Bangladesh security forces. The Mahalchari communal attack, the fifth of its nature after signing the Accord carried out jointly by Bengali settlers and Bangladesh Army personnel on 26th August, 2003 affected 14 villages. The local army authority had tried best to gag the voice of the people and a visiting team of civil society personalities, human rights activists and journalists from Dhaka. There was also a move to steralise the devastation caused by the marauders through arson and looting. But both went in vain. The civil society, media and the world conscience came forward against this act. Finally, the government had opened up nine seriously affected villages to world community led by the UNDP for humanitarian aid and rehabilitation programme which is still continuing.

The non-implementation and in some cases violation of vital clauses of the Accord by the government in one hand and help extreme Bengali fanatic fronts float against the Jumma people on the other has seriously deteriorated the CHT situation in recent months. Unfortunately, the government’s initiative to help develop the situation is not encouraging at all. It is also found that the government does not give exact picture of the latest status of the Accord to the countrymen and the world community as well. With a view to articulating the concerned quarters and individuals on the present state of the Accord the initiative for bringing out this publication has been undertaken by the secretariat of the Information and Publicity Department of the PCJSS. It is expected that the initiative would help build idea of the readers on the extent of the implementation of the Accord and it would help raise concern in support of the implementation of the Accord so that the whole issue could not go out of control both of the Government and the PCJSS.

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