Region of Peace Call
A joint memorandum by four Indian Chakma organizations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh asks the leaders to declare the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs) as a “region of peace.”
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is currently on a four-day visit to India.
The four Indian Chakma organizations are Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI), Chakma National Council of India – Mizoram Chapter (CNCI-Mizoram), Tripura Rejyo Chakma Gabujyya Jodha and Chakma Hajong Rights Alliance (CHRA). They urged joint measures in both India and Bangladesh to fully implement the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord of Bangladesh.
Joint Reporting by Sushanta Roy & Shib Shankar Chatterjee
The Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord (CHTs), also known as Chittagong Hill Tracts Treaty, was signed on 2 December 1997. The signatories to that political agreement and peace treaty were the Bangladeshi Government and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti. Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti is the political organisation that was in control of the Shanti Bahini militia at that time.
“Though the CHTs Accord was signed on 2 December 1997, key provisions of the Accord especially handing over of law and order and supervision of the three Hill District Councils of Bandarban, Khagrachari and Rangamati to the CHTs Regional Council; withdrawal of the Bangladesh Army camps established during the armed conflicts into the cantonments within the CHTs; resolution of the land disputes through the functioning of the CHTs Land Commission; and rehabilitation and resettlement of the returnee Jumma refugees from India and internally displaced persons within the CHTs remain unimplemented 25 years after signing of the Accord.” – stated Mr Rashik Mohan Chakma, President of CNCI-Mizoram and former MLA of Mizoram.
“The importance of implementation of the CHTs Accord for regional peace and security, especially for Bangladesh, India and Myanmar cannot be stressed enough. In addition to civil unrest of indigenous peoples of CHTs collectively known as Jummas due to non-implementation of the Accord, the CHTs is often used by various insurgent groups.
“Further, the armed conflicts in the Arakan province of Myanmar bordering the CHTs, the expulsion of over 1.5 million Rohingyas to Bangladesh by Myanmar and the refusal of the military junta Government of Myanmar to repatriate any of these Rohingya refugees make the CHTs the source of regional instability and conflicts.
“In fact, peace in the region can be assured only through joint efforts of Bangladesh and India and meaningful participation of the indigenous Jumma people in these efforts by empowering them for self-governance through full implementation of the CHTs Accord.” – urged Mr Suhas Chakma, Founder of the CDFI.
“It is not in the interests of Bangladesh, India, indigenous Jumma peoples to have the active civil unrests in the CHTs region or allow the region to be used for various insurgency activities.” – stated Mr Pritimoy Chakma, Convenor of the CHRA.
Tripura Rejyo Chakma Gabujyya Jodha
“We have urged both Prime Ministers to take measures for full and effective implementation of the CHTs Accord, declare an economic package to assist the Government of Bangladesh for effective implementation of the CHTs Accord including for rehabilitation and resettlement of the returnee Jumma refugees from India and internally displaced persons within the CHTs in line with similar economic assistance provided by India to the Internally Displaced Persons of Sri Lanka following the end of the armed conflicts with the ethnic Tamils.
“And initiate processes with the Jana Samhati Samiti, the signatory to the CHTs Accord and all other stakeholders of indigenous Jumma peoples to end civil unrest in the CHTs region and facilitate establishment of the CHTs as a region of peace.” – Stated Mr Priya Ranjan Chakma, President of the Tripura Rejyo Chakma Gabujyya Jodha.
Region of Peace
Information about the Region of Peace can be found at the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord (CHT) website. The original provision, created in 1989 consisted of three clauses in the original Rangamati Hill District Council Act. It required no changes to existing legislation.
Then, in 1997 the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Accord added clause 4. This clause stipulated that only certified permanent residents of the CHT could vote in CHT elections. There have been many attempts to destabilize the region by changing eligible voters.
The Chakma organizations hope that now is a good time for the Region of Peace to come about, to end the civil unrest in the region.