Calling the region of peace
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 “area 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 action in both India and Bangladesh to fully implement Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord.
Joint report by Sushant Roy and Shiba Shankar Chatterjee
Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord.
The Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord (CHTs), also known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts Treaty, was signed on 2 December 1997. The signatories to this political agreement and peace treaty were the Government of Bangladesh and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti. The Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samiti is a political organization that was in control Shanti Bahini militia that time.
“Although the CHTs Agreement was signed on December 2, 1997, the key provisions of the Agreement, particularly the transfer of law and order and supervision of the three Hill District Councils of Bandarban, Khagrachari and Rangamati to the CHTs Regional Council; withdrawal of Bangladesh Army camps established during armed conflicts to cantonments within the CHT; resolution of land disputes through the functioning of the CHTs Land Commission; and the rehabilitation and resettlement of returnee Jumma refugees from India and IDPs within the CHT remain unimplemented 25 years after the signing of the agreement. – stated by Mr. Rashik Mohan Chakma, President CNCI-Mizoram and former MLA from Mizoram.
“The importance of the implementation of the CHTs Agreement for regional peace and security, particularly for Bangladesh, India and Myanmar, cannot be overemphasized. In addition to civil unrest by the indigenous people of the CHT collectively known as Jummas due to the non-implementation of the Agreement, the CHT is often used by various insurgent groups.
“Next, armed conflicts in Arakan province myanmar bordering the CHT, the expulsion of over 1.5 million The Rohingya to Bangladesh by Myanmar and the refusal of Myanmar’s military junta government to repatriate any of these Rohingya refugees makes the CHT a source of regional instability and conflict.
“Peace in the region can only be truly achieved through the joint efforts of Bangladesh and India and the meaningful participation of the indigenous Jumma people in these efforts by empowering them to self-govern through the full implementation of the CHT Agreement.” – urged Mr. Suhas Chakma, founder of CDFI.
“It is not in the interest of Bangladesh, India, the indigenous people of Jumma that there should be active civil unrest in the CHT region or that the region should be used for various insurgent activities.” – stated Mr. Pritimoy Chakma, Convener of CHRA.
Tripura Rejyo Chakma Gabujyya Jodha
“We have urged both Prime Ministers to take measures for the full and effective implementation of the CHT Agreement, announced an economic package to assist the Bangladesh government in the effective implementation of the CHT Agreement, including the rehabilitation and resettlement of Jumma refugee returnees from India and IDPs within the CHT in line with similar economic assistance provided by India to IDPs in Sri Lanka following the end of armed conflicts with ethnic Tamils.
“And initiate processes with the Jana Samhati Samiti, a signatory to the CHTs agreement and all other stakeholders of the indigenous Jumma peoples, to end the civil unrest in the CHTs region and facilitate the establishment of the CHTs as an area of peace.” – stated Mr. Priya Ranjan Chakma, Chairman of the Committee Tripura Rejyo Chakma Gabujyya Jodha.
Area of peace
Information about the Peace Region can be found at Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord (CHT) Website. The original provision made 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) Agreement added Clause 4. This clause stipulated that only certified CHT residents could vote in CHT elections. There have been many attempts to destabilize the region by changing eligible voters.
Chakma organizations hope that now is an opportune time for the Region of Peace to bring about civil unrest in the region.