Friday, March 5, 2010

Mizoram Chakmas protest Bangladesh atrocities

By Paritosh Chakma

On 4 March 2010, the Chakmas of Mizoram joined the worldwide movement denouncing the ongoing human rights violations against the minority Jummas (tribals) in Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. Thousands of Chakmas held a protest rally at Chawngte (also called Kamalanagar), the headquarters of Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) in Mizoram to protest against the recent attacks on the religious minorities namely Buddhists and Christians in CHT by the Bangladesh army and illegal Muslim settlers. The residents of Kamalanagar, and from neighbouring villages participated in the protest rally.

During attacks from 19-23 February 2010, at least eight Chakma tribals have been killed, over 400 houses burnt down and over 2000 tribals displaced. The Bengali plain settlers also burnt down a Buddhist temple and a church beside a UNDP-run health centre.

The attacks are still on. On the night of 4 March 2010 the settlers launched fresh attacks on the indigenous tribals (also called Jummas) burning down half a dozen more houses and one UNICEF-run community school at Daney Baibachara village in Rangamati district. The houses that were burnt down were located just a few hundred yards away from a police station but the police personnel stayed mute spectators.

The Bangladesh government has failed to bring the culprits to justice. It has also refused to investigate the alleged roles of army officials in the attacks. All it has done is to transfer two army officials from the riots affected areas.

The Chakmas have held protests across the world, including in front of the UN Headquarters in New York, London, Seoul, Sydney and Adelaide in Australia, Tokyo, Colombo, and New Delhi, Kolkata, Agartala in India. Among others, two of the world’s largest human rights organizations Amnesty International and Survival International demanded action against the culprits responsible for attacks against the Jummas.

On 26 February 2010, the European Union strongly condemned the “shameful acts of violence” against the indigenous peoples in CHT and demanded an independent investigation. However, the other countries, notably giant neighbor India and the US have been mute spectators to the violence against religious minorities in Bangladesh. The UN too has expressed concern and stated it was “closely monitoring” the situation.

The protest rally in CADC, Mizoram was spearheaded by the most influential Chakma NGO, the Young Chakma Association (YCA) and supported by all the local NGOs and political parties. At the end of the rally, the protestors submitted a Memorandum to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh through the Chief Executive Member, CADC seeking his immediate intervention with the Bangladesh government to end the sufferings of the Jummas (indigenous peoples) in CHT.

Observers feel that the support the CADC protest rally received from across the political spectrum is a testimony to the rising unity and political awareness of the Chakmas in Mizoram about the issues that concern the community.

Also read:
  • Mizoram Chakmas protest atrocities on Jummas,, 5 March 2010,

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