Apr 28, 2008

Chittagong Hill Tracts: Settlers Raze Jumma Settlements

Sample ImageSettlement and military repression are wrecking the lives of local Jumma people as the Bangladesh government continues its short-sided policies.

Below is an article published by Agence France Presse:

Rampaging Bengali settlers have razed seven tribal villages to the ground in Bangladesh's Chittagong Hill Tracts region, the rights group Survival International said.

The group said the villages belonged to the Jumma tribal people who were attacked after the Bangladesh army began a new settlement programme for non-tribal people in the Sajek area.

"Jumma villagers, including women and children, were beaten in the attack and their belongings looted," Survival said in a statement.

"One hundred houses were destroyed and the Jumma villagers have fled into the surrounding forests. Bengali setters were also injured," it said.

The incident was under investigation, the chairman of the Rangamati hill district council, Jagatjoyti Chakma, told AFP, adding that some settlers' homes were also burned.

Survival director Stephen Corry said the attacks were a "criminal human rights violation."

"Bangladesh continues to want the land but not the people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Only international pressure can end this."

Abuses had escalated since the army-backed emergency government came to power in January 2007, Survival added.

The Bangladesh government in 1997 signed a peace accord with tribal people.

However, unrest in the area has continued with the Parbattya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity tribal group demanding implementation of the December 1997 treaty which ended a two-decade uprising for autonomy.

In the peace pact, the government promised regional councils and a withdrawal of troops. Although councils were set up, the Samity is unhappy troops have not left the region.

While 70 military camps have been removed, hundreds more remain, security sources say.