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5 December, 2017 00:00 00 AM

Implementation of CHT Peace Accord

There is five per cent quota for the ethnic minorities’ higher education and government, semi-government and autonomous bodies’ jobs
Abbas Tarafder
Implementation of CHT Peace Accord


CHT tribal leaders and their sympathizers at home and abroad decided to capitalize UNDRIP and invented the new issue of ‘indigenous identity’. It is mention worthy that, UNDRIP has not defined who the indigenous people are, rather mentioned of their rights only! The so called European, to be specific, Danish NGO named ‘International CHT Commission’ started functioning since 1991 playing a negative role and ceased to function in 1999 after the signing of CHT Peace Accord. But it restarted functioning since 2008 making implementation of CHT Accord and indigenous issues their main agenda. The dream and design of achieving of independent Jummaland through indigenous identity and rights has been highly inspired by the independence of East Timor in 2002 and of South Sudan in 2011 and UNDRIP. In fact, core designers are the same European conspirators. Detrimental articles of UNDRIP are:
1) Indigenous Recognition.  UNDRIP mentions, whether an ethnic group would be called indigenous or not is the group’s own choice. If CHT tribes want to claim themselves indigenous contrary to historical and anthropological perspective, GoB will have has no say!
2) Land and Resources.  Article 25-29 mention about the indigenous peoples’ right to own, use, develops and control traditional land and resources. It will give away government’s right on lands and resources to the tribes. All government establishments even DC’s office can be ousted from CHT at the will of tribal.
3) Military Activities.   Article 30 mentions that, military activities will not take place on indigenous lands without indigenous peoples’ free, prior and informed consent, unless it is necessary for the well-being of all of society and it takes place through consultations with indigenous peoples’ representatives. It will give away GoB’s right to deploy military forces in CHT to the wills of tribal leaders. Certainly the tribes who waged fighting against Army for decades would not consent in Army’s stay in CHT opening the road to independence.
4) Identity, Membership and Citizenship.  Article 33 mentions that, they also have the right to decide who their members are. It will take away Bangali citizenship rights in CHT including voting right.
5) Implementation.  Part 8 mentions that, indigenous peoples have the right to have access to support from the international community in carried out activities that will lead to this reality. It will give the CHT tribes a free chit to call UN to deploy Peace Keeping forces in CHT without GoB’s consent and conduct a referendum for separation/independent Jummaland.
One common blame game issue is ‘rape incidences by Bangalis’; they often blame Army supporting such act. Let’s check the statistics first; in 2016 total 13 rape incidences took place in CHT. In that, allegations goes as,  Bengali raped tribal girl is 10, tribes raped Bengali girl is one and tribes man raped tribes girl is 2. Although the rape by Bangalis are more, there are three realities, firstly, not all alleged rape cases are true, many elope and prostitution cases are falsely claimed as rape for political gain. Secondly, tribal customs and practices do not recognise rape as a serious crime within themselves. Extra marital affairs are very common in Chakmas [Pg 207, ‘Chakma Jati’ by Sree Satish Chandra (Chakma Nation, 1st pub 1909, 2nd edition 2009)] and most rape cases are socially covered as such. Thirdly, almost one-third rape crimes (reported ones only) are done by the tribe men. Rape is a heinous issue just like any other part in Bangladesh. Rate of rape per one lakh population in CHT is only 10 (Same rate for Sweden is 63.5 – more than 6 times high! It is far below most EU countries and USA – Ref: Wikipedia). If the allegation would have any substance, the rate would be much higher and Army personnel would be involved in raping – not a single such case could the tribal folks mention. In 2016 total 12 eloping incidences in CHT were reported where tribal girls eloped with Bangali men/boys is 9, tribe girls eloped with tribes men/boys is 3 and Bangali girl eloped with tribal men/boy is one. Although the Bangali population is less than the tribes, eloping cases show a strong appeal of Bangali boys amongst tribe girls. This reveals two things, firstly, in their identification, Bangali boys are better husband/human beings and secondly, if rape cases as alleged and propagated would be true, tribal girls would have rejected the Bangali boys, not had eloped!
Christian Missionary activities spread to Chittagong and CHT areas since 1881. More than one-third the tribal population of the Bandarban district is now Christian. A Christian belt has been deliberately created along the Indian borders. Many western NGOs were assisting the separatist movement in the CHTs. Regarding the tribes in that area, McNee writes [McNee, Crucial Issues in Bangladesh. Pasadena, (CA: William Carey Library, 1976), pg 83]: ‘The greatest gift we can give to Bangladesh is a Christianized Hill Tracts population. The Tribals are under pressure from many directions… The necessity for this change is near bursting point. Christians now number 5 percent of the population. The Hill Tracts is a top priority for evangelistic effort’. The Christian missionaries are luring the tribal people living below the poverty line to Christianisation by giving them money and other worldly baits. The missionaries have thus destroyed the religion and culture of the tribes. It should be noted that the Bawm community in Bardarban district is 100% Christianized. However, hate propaganda by the tribal folk goes with ulterior liehood, fake blaming of Islamisation which is totally made-up; however, Bangali cultural aggression is only passively true whereas massive Christianisation is most vibrant truth in CHT. When the western community talks loud for retaining socio-cultural entity of the tribal folks, they never clarify if there can be anything more devastating to tribal culture, heritage and entity than Christianisation.
There are 5 percent quota for the tribes’ higher education and for government, semi-government and autonomous bodies’ job. Bangalis in CHT face same, if not more, hardship but is deprived of the quota facility. In fact, most of the quotas are devoured by the Chakmas out of proportion; some tribes are derived next to nothing from the quota facilities. Again, tribes of CHT are exempted from any tax paying.
For the benefit of CHT tribes, the Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts (MoCHTA) was formed to especially focusing the development of the area. The minister is essentially a tribesman of CHT. Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council (CHTRC) is chaired by a tribal person with tribal dominance in the Council which is vested with responsibility to oversee and co-ordinate the administration, law and order and development activities. It is also to grant license for NGO activities and setting up of heavy industries. Three CHT District Councils formed with the mission of development of socio-economic and preservation of fundamental rights that is to uphold the political, social, cultural, educational and economic right and to expedite the process of socio-economic development of all citizens of Hill Districts. The Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute Resolution Commission (Amendment) Act, 2016 is passed as mentioned in at the beginning. After CHT Peace Accord, GoB invested heavily in infrastructural development in CHT and invited UNDP, international aid organizations and NGOs to carry out development activities. Beside huge GoB budget, UNDP pumped in approximately 500 million US dollar in CHT. This changed and developed the socio-economic dimensions greatly. However, UNDP and foreign funded NGOs are carrying out a biased development in CHT. For example, in CHT 153 NGOs are working, of them 47 NGOs work for tribes’ benefit while only 03 works for Bangalis; Beneficiaries of 44 NGOs are not known, however those are mostly tribes based. This is seriously affecting communal harmony.
There are some sore issues with land rights.  Whatever is in the existing laws, no khas land in the CHT region can be leased out, purchased, sold or transferred without the permission of the council where the Bangalis are deliberately not permitted. Citizenship and voting right of Bangalis are limited, often at the mercy of tribal headmen/rajas/councils. Persistent deprivation to Bangalis of equal rights is the most contentious issue from Bangali sides.
Bringing back insurgency era issues by tribal leaders and activists like independent Jummaland, autonomy, repatriation of Bangalis to plain land together with maintaining armed terrorist cadres and newly brought issue like false claim of indigenous identity reveals the their psyche – they are not for peace. Their goal is far beyond implementation of Peace Accord where conspiracy is looming large. Peace in CHT – indeed the ball is in tribal leaders’ court. Are they serious about it? Hope they are!

The writer is a security and political analyst. He can be reached at:



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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